Beggars In Spain

Nancy Kress
Beggars In Spain Cover

Beggars In Spain


At the beginning of the 21st Century genetic modification allows children to be born without the need to sleep. The initial benefit of a more productive life is found to be even greater since it confers greater intelligence and emotional stability on the modified. Finally it is discovered that the Sleepless are near immortal.

The novel follows the birth and life of Leisha Camden whose billionaire father insists on her being modified. Leisha and her father are Yagaists (a fictionalized version of Ayn Rand's neo-Darwinist economic philosophy). This philosophy in slightly modified form is adopted by the majority of Sleepless who refer to unproductive normals as beggars. Subject to prejudice the majority of Sleepless flle to a compound in upstate New York and eventually to an orbital.

Leisha stays behind and rejects the values of the Sleepless in part by ger interaction with Alice, her normal sister, and Drew, a white trash ten year old she adopts.

More a novel of economic and philosophical ideas than one of science, it has well drawn characters and a satisfying plot. Some of the science and sociology has huge holes in it. For example when the Sleepless flee to space, normal society degenerates into a majority of Jerry Springer watchers and technological advancement grinds to a halt.

4/5 for readability. If you care about plausability you could knock off half a point.