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Beggars and Choosers (Beggars Trilogy (also known as Sleepless Trilogy)) Hardcover – September 15, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
This welcome sequel to Kress's acclaimed Beggars in Spain (which itself was based on a novella that in 1993 won both a Hugo and a Nebula) picks up 13 years after the events of the earlier book. The genetically engineered SuperSleepless-who need no sleep and have vastly increased cognitive powers-have established a protected island enclave where they can work on their beneficent plans for humanity away from the prying eyes of the genetic-purity police. Meanwhile, in the States, sharply divided into the "Livers" (who subsist on the dole but consider themselves aristocrats) and the "donkeys" (genetically enhanced, highly educated public servants who sneer at the Livers even as they support them), society's infrastructure is breaking down because the machines that feed, clothe and care for the Livers have stopped functioning. As conditions worsen, so do tensions between the donkeys and the Livers. Events are viewed through several characters who must confront the collapse of their society and (perhaps) the birth of another. Kress takes an admirably complex look at controversial issues-genetic engineering, the distribution of wealth and power, racism and political hatred-while offering no easy answers. Based on the real possibilities of genetic modification, nanotechnology and current social and economic trends, her latest novel isn't merely an excellent and thoughtful work of science fiction but is also an important commentary on some of the key issues we'll be facing in the next century.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA?A futuristic fantasy that is frighteningly close to life as we know it. What is the morality of empowerment? In this thought-provoking novel, the genetically enhanced may have the ability to choose for all of us?by giving us all the ability to choose?but do they have that right? Using a variety of viewpoints, Kress simultaneously develops characters and theme while maintaining a plot that hums like a high-tension cable. The miracle is that this excitement is generated by readers' own moral confusion. Is Drew right to feel manipulated by his super-intelligent lover, whose thought processes he can never truly understand? Which of Vicki's various moral stands is justifiable? Is there a workable future for Lizzie? For Miri? For Billy? The plot makes concrete the dilemmas inherent in a society where "equality" is no longer a possibility. Although this book is a sequel of sorts to Beggars in Spain (Morrow, 1993), it stands on its own and explores a new ethical swamp. Kress is unique in her daring charting of these moral morasses, and given YAs' fascination with morality, she is of particular interest to them. Beggars and Choosers will terrify, delight, enrage, and engage.?Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress is a stand along sequel to Beggars in Spain; the books have a classic sci-fi feel with multiple view points and heavy amounts of scientifically inspired plot developments in a futuristic world
After reading Beggars in Spain I had to get my hands on the second book because the first was so awesome. It took me a little bit longer to get to it than I'd hoped since I was trying to finish other books, and it took a bit longer to get through than Beggars in Spain, but over all I'm very glad I continued with Beggars and Choosers and will likely pick up the last in the trilogy soon!
Title: Beggars and Choosers
Author: Nancy Kress
Pages: 316 (hardcover)
Genre-ish: Classic Sci-fi, apocalyptic
Rating: ★★★★☆ - Compelling plot, just not quite as awesome as the first book
Setting: Beggars and Choosers is set in the 2100′s after the first book. Gene modification of everything from appearance to intelligence to unnatural limbs etc has created multiple classes of people, including Livers (the majority who live on very generous welfare and have no gene modifications), donkeys (the gene modified higher class who run everything) and Sleepless and SuperSleepless.
Premise: America has been relying on cheap energy patents to dominate the foreign energy market for decades, but as those patents run out, so does the money to support over half the population. At the same time a rebellion is stirring with violent tendency that is causing a break down of all American society. The only people smart enough (and caring enough) to save America from itself are the 27 SuperSleepless, who have had their intelligence so modified that most don't consider them even close to human anymore.
Beggars and Choosers has a very interesting premise, especially in this time of economic uncertainty in the modern day. Thankfully we don't have quite the problems they do ;-)
Kress has a very compelling writing style. In Beggars and Choosers there are several main characters who's perspective the story is written from, and Kress conveys their dialects very well.
Wonderful character development along with the plot.
The story is just not quite as driving as it was in Beggars in Spain, even though the premise seems much more pressing when I think about it. For some reason I just didn't feel quite as compelled to keep reading this time.
I didn't connect very well with any of the characters :(. This might be a partial explanation for the previous point: if I don't care about the characters, I care less about what happens to them.
I just really wish the plot had focused more on different characters, but maybe those characters (Miranda :D) will come back into the focus in the third book!
Beggars and Choosers is an interesting and entertaining continuation of the Sleepless books, but it falls into the problem many sequels do: it just couldn't rock out as much as the first ;-). If you loved Beggars in Spain as much as I did, you should definitely continue with Beggars and Choosers, just understand it struggles a little bit. Here's hoping the third book (Beggars Ride) rocks out to a five star level again!
None of the main characters measure up to the Leisha Camden, who ends up with a minor role before being written out of the novel. For me, Leisha Camden carried the first novel, and having the direct sequel with her not as main character disappointed me. Of the characters in the new novel, none of them approached the joy or gentle reflectiveness of Leisha.
The philosophical questions raised by first novel, of all the beggars in Spain, are neatly sidestepped and ignored in the second novel. Miranda ends up making the same mistakes her grandmother made, but in a different way. It just struck me a super-genius might learn something from the past? Kress really didn't write the level of super-genius intelligence well, unlike the first novel where she managed to do so by perfectly capturing emotional issues that would grip you regardless of intelligence. I found her super-genius behavior to be emotionally stupid in this book, and it just turned the whole thing to trash for me.
No complaints with the setting, though the dramatic pace was slow, especially in Oleinta, New York. Maybe I'm over-reacting a bit at giving this two stars, but compared with the first novel (which I read on the same day as this one) this book is short-sighted and mediocre.
Kress also alters the dialects that the plebian welfare class uses to frequently use the pronouns me, them, and you. Either as pronouns or punctuations in speaking. For some reason this reminds me of the people who use the N word in place of all pronouns such as "he, she, them, me, I, them, that, they, we, you, etc", and as punctuations at the end of their phrases or sentences.