Volume 15, Number 01, Winter, 1997

Beggars In Spain

By Nancy Kress

Tor Books, 1993
Reviewed by Victoria Varga
March 1997

Beggars and Choosers

By Nancy Kress
Tor Books, 1994
Reviewed by Victoria Varga
March 1997

Beggars Ride

By Nancy Kress
Tor Books, 1996
Reviewed by Victoria Varga
March 1997

Nancy Kress’ Beggars trilogy is that rare thing in fiction: a near-future tale with a sense of adventure, morality, and high purpose. The author crafts a world transformed by genetic manipulation. Plants, animals, and even humans are made to order, and the richer you are, the more intelligent and beautiful your children are made.

By the second volume, society is stratified into three levels: the “Sleepless”—brilliant hyperproductive post-humans who accomplish so much because they are able to produce 24 hours a day; “Donkeys,” mentally enhanced and physically perfect specimens who do most of the world’s work; and “Livers,” unenhanced humans who are supported by a bread and circus welfare system—and when that collapses live outside protected Donkey enclaves on what ever scraps of civilization they can find.

The cultural ramifications of such medical technology are made real by the depth of characterization of individuals in all levels of society, and a wealth of carefully thought-out science that manages to be both realistic and revolutionary.

Although Kress turns out not to be as libertarian as the first volume seemed to indicate (she believes, when asked, that government is necessary to civilization, tsk!) she at least supports an ideal that every libertarian requires in good fiction. Kress’ revolutions are not revolutions of the masses. No, in the face of an overwhelmingly dysfunctional and unjust culture, the actions of single individuals determined to fight for truth, justice and freedom, matter more than anything else.

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