Beggars in Spain has a really interesting premise: genetically engineered humans who never need sleep. It makes them fantastically productive, most being extremely bright. A few of them were just anomalies, but as their numbers increased, they became targets of bigotry and hatred. The Sleepness community is not perfectly united in their goals, however. Nancy Kress explores genetic manipulation, racial attitudes (are the Sleepless another race?), hatred toward minorities, among other ideas. A great book, but somehow I ended up with three copies!
This is the first of a trilogy about genetic engineering & how it affected society in the US. The books definitely should be read in order. Alot happens in each book. Interesting if one likes detailed characters.
In addition to being one of the most interesting people on the planet, Nan Kress is a fine writer. If you're an insomniac, watch out. The future may not look quite so bright.
This trilogy basically centers around "What if there was a group of people who didn't need to sleep?" From there, she explores what's good about being different, and what's really bad about being different. I found all three books to be fascinating and very entertaining.
The premise of this sci-fi novel is that, in 2008, a scientific breakthrough allows for genetic engineering that creates people with no need to sleep. Together with other genetic advantages available to the rich, soon this creates a small but growing group of privileged and brilliant young people - the Sleepless. However, jealous and resentful, "ordinary people" rather than appreciating the super-talented Sleepless, are soon viciously prejudiced against them.
I found the first half of this book to be interesting and refreshing, because, although I didn't find the supposed benefits that Kress pairs with sleeplessness to be medically convincing, it was nice to see (for once) a scientific advance that has the ability to change humanity shown in a positive light, rather than as a Scary Mutation of Terror that makes us Inhuman.
However, the second half of the book spoiled all that, when it posits that a large percentage of the Sleepless, sick of the bigotry aimed at them, secede into a gated compound, and proceed to do more genetic research and create Inhuman Mutations and commit Terrible Acts. By taking the idea further, I felt that the novel, conversely, got more ordinary.
This was an interesting read. The characters were well developed and sympathetic. An exceptional story about prejudice and community.
Leisha Camden was born in 2008. She was genetically modified to never need sleep. At first she was considered an interesting test. But she and "her kind" (the sleepless) are outcasts. They become victims of hatred and are being driven from Earth. But Leisha won't go. She chooses to stay behind in a world that is afraid of her sleeplessness.
Present day genetic engineering has made it possible to tweak in utero babies so they will never need to sleep. In addition, they have greatly enhanced intelligence, creativity and physical prowess, not to mention having the edge of eight additional work hours per day. At first, only the very wealthy could afford this procedure and few waves were created. Soon, there were 20,000 of the 'sleepless' and growing. Envy and subsequent persecution grew until the gulf between these two types of humans was nearly complete. Animosity leads to drastic measures and horrific plans. Nancy Kress has created a believable scenario with realistic characters, often, deeply flawed and multi-layered. This novel is the first of a trilogy created by this master writer. It is highly recommended.
After reading this book, I added it to my "favorites" bookshelf. It was good reading, interesting, thought provoking, and well written. I would suggest it to anyone who general reads sci-fi or fantasy.
Again, one of my all-time favorites.