Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress uses speculative fiction to explore two fundamental questions – What happens if you genetically engineer a group of people so that they are radically different from the rest of the humans – in this case by eliminating the need to sleep in a group of children (potentially accompanied by other intelligence enhancing modifications)? What do the strong/wealthy/more intelligent owe to those they deem lesser?
I don’t remember if I read the Hugo and Nebula winning novella that forms the first section of the book, but I did read Beggars in Spain in print when it was new. Somehow I missed that Ms. Kress had written two sequels. So I picked up the audiobook of Beggars in Spain 23 years after the original publication of the full length novel. Some books hold up to time and to re-reading and others quickly become dated. Beggars in Spain belongs in the first category.
I enjoyed my reread, though it’s been a bit surreal reading this story of xenophobia with its extended musings on what society owes to those deemed non-productive at this specific moment in US History.