The Captain’s Log- beggars in spain (Nancy Kress)

Ahoy me mateys!  I recently reviewed the Yesterday’s Kin trilogy in me 3 Bells segment and very much enjoyed it.  The First Mate and I were discussing her writing and he told me about beggars in spain, a Hugo and Nebula winning novella back in 1991.  I was very intrigued by the idea of people who didn’t sleep and so I thought I would give it a try.  This is actually the novel that expanded on the ideas of the novella.What this book seemed to suggest is that the author has a theme of genetic testing/research being a method for changing the fundamentals of human society.  Those themes were lightly present in the other trilogy I read as well.

In this novel, it starts with following Leisha Camden whose father decides to genetic modify his daughter in vitro in order to make her have a longer lifespan, excellent health, and the ability to not need sleep.  Unbeknownst to him, his wife also decides to keep an unmodified child as well.  While the twin girls share a birthday, their fundamental differences make them lead completely different lives.  The juxtaposition of the two is fascinating.

But the author doesn’t stop there.  She also explores the questions of how the Sleepless population changes society.  Except it doesn’t go the way ye think.  Sleepless end up being a marginalized population while also being fundamental to Earth’s functioning on many levels.  I would have thought that people would fight to have such advantages for their children.  I enjoyed that the author kept me guessing in terms of ramifications of the genetic switches.

The novel does follow subsequent decades of Leisha’s life and reflects most of the commentary through her eyes.  That said, the world does branch out with the use of different perspectives as the time progresses.  It is broken up into four parts in over eighty years.  This is where part of the flaw of the book came for me.  I just didn’t like where the story diverged.

The Sleepless are bound in a philosophical war with one sect being a faction that wants to remove itself from regular society and found its own nation-state.  I found a lot of this part of the plot to be rather lackluster and boring.  The bad girl, Jennifer Sharifi, is too cliche and stereotypical and was frankly annoying.  This conflict ends up being the majority of the second half of the book and I just didn’t care.

In fact most of the characterizations of this novel were starkly in the black or white categories.  I would have liked more shades of grey and nuances.  I absolutely hated the entire “dreaming” subplot with Drew.  I didn’t like the plot points around that topic and despised the his character.  I did like the Sleepless’ continued foray into genetic testing and especially the introduction of the next phase of humanity.  Miri, a Super, and her compatriots were lovely.

I think that overall the ideas were better than the execution.  While I did enjoy it, I do not see meself picking up the rest of this trilogy.  I think readers interested in these ideas could just pick up the novella and have a potential better reading experience with none of the drawbacks of this novel.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In this future, some people need no sleep at all. Leisha Camden was genetically modified at birth to require no sleep, and her normal twin Alice is the control. Problems and envy between the sisters mirror those in the larger world, as society struggles to adjust to a growing pool of people who not only have 30 percent more time to work and study than normal humans, but are also highly intelligent and in perfect health.

The Sleepless gradually outgrow their welcome on Earth, and their children escape to an orbiting space station to set up their own society. But Leisha and a few others remain behind, preaching acceptance for all humans, Sleepless and Sleeper alike. With the conspiracy and revenge that unwinds, the world needs a little preaching on tolerance.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Nancy Kress – Author

To buy the book go to:

beggars in spain – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

tomorrow’s kin – book 1 (3 Bells – Sci-Fi)

if tomorrow comes – book 2 (3 Bells – Sci-Fi)

terran tomorrow – book 3 (3 Bells – Sci-Fi)

11 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log- beggars in spain (Nancy Kress)

  1. In my experience, most science fiction explores ideas better than they execute the story. I’ve come to expect this. But, that is one reason why I joined a science fiction/fantasy book club! This allows me to explore the ideas with other people, so I don’t need to enjoy the story as much. Is this stand alone? I might recommend it for our next book… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of me wants to join an in-person book club so I can discuss ideas and issues with people who are smarter than me. Plus I am not good at analyzing structure of the writing or themes in comparison with other books. I like readin’ about such things but don’t make the connections on me own. But I tend to hate groups of people and so am not sure. It is one of the areas I am going to ponder in the upcoming year. I do think I am going to eventually join an in person group. I just have to find the right one. What sci-fi/fantasy group did ye join?
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Despite not enjoying groups of people, I highly recommend at least trying an in-person book club. If you are struggling to find one, I recommend or asking your local librarians. But, just like when seeking therapists, not all book groups will be a good fit for you. Be willing to try a few visits before walking away, but also let yourself walk away.

        My sci-fi/fantasy book club is one a few friends started with me. I crashed a dinner party and ended up talking fantasy books for 2 hours with them, so I recommended we start a book club. They actually agreed! These people are SO smart. We have two PhDs with Physics, one in Astrophysics, one in Organic Chemistry, and two in Computer Science. I have 2 bachelors in music. O_o One of these things is not like the other…

        But I bring passion. And good book suggestions. Which I mostly steal from sweet book blogs. Present company in particular. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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