Rereading “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress

This is the fifth novella of this reading project

More than five years ago, I reviewed Nancy Kress’s posthumanism novella which was later on extended to a full novel. It is not often that I reread literature, but this one had five stars, and it fit to my reading project.

For what it’s worth, please go for the older review, I’ll have here only a few further remarks.

While reading it again, I had an eye to the two sister’s relationship – one is the main protagonist Leisha with altered genes, making her sleepless; and the other one her unalterted twin sister Alice who takes opposite turns in her way of living: no high school, early marriage, a child, separating from the family.
This sounds not very engaging, but there are a couple of plot twists which show a greater scope, and which I had forgotten over time.

Actually, the novella was all about the two sisters, while the extended novel (which includes the novella as its first part) goes on with the sleepless people, so that the twin’s relation is more or less only a minor sidekick.

The other thing I noticed this time was the cited newspaper article about the (generalized) disregarding by U.S. people of calm/logic/rational while admiring feeling/action/fight and “composers of the angry songs of rebellion that divide us”. There seems to be much truth in it, looking back at the last four disastrous years leading to a Divided States of America.

A last idea I noticed is the reference ot the U.S. constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..,” which is certainly NOT the case for the gene-altered babies who got an unfair advantage. Some U.S. states react by stripping them of certain constitutional rights. They are hated and hunted.
There will be some point in time where gene-modifications will be plain normal. But I never thought that constitutions of countries would need to be adapted. That we give them human rights.

As I said, there are further musings in the original review. I still think that this is the author’s best story, and highly recommend it to readers of near future SF.

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4 Responses to Rereading “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    I read Kress’ novel An Alien Light in 2019 — I was a big fan! A challenging and intense book for sure… I haven’t read this novella yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andreas says:

      Can’t compare, haven’t read that. Award wise (not that that means very much), Beggars had far more luck. It’s availability is also better, as it is still getting anthologized.
      I‘ve read a couple newer stories by her and liked all of them. The oldest that I know is „Trinity“ from 1984, 3.5 stars.


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