Book Review: Beggars in Spain

Only a few hours into my time off and I accomplished my first goal.   I finished reading Beggars in Spain today.   Clearly a great book that really imagemade me think.   It has the basic scifi stuff I like such as a view of the future, genetic engineering, a new form of cheap energy and its effect on the economy.   

The book starts by proposing an interesting question:  are we wasting time sleeping.   Personally, I love to sleep, but it does feel like a waste of almost 1/3 of our lives sometimes.  

But Beggars in Spain is not about the scifi nor this “sleeper” question.  The books heart is about how the strong relate to the weak.  Do the weak have any claims on the strong?  Does a poor beggar in Spain have any right to ask for money or help from a the rich?    Oddly enough, I found my free-market economy, The Wealth of Nations, roots agreeing with one of the main characters that “the weak have no claims on the strong”.  But as they find out, this is a shallow argument.  My personal view is while the weak may have no claims on the strong, the strong DO have an obligation on the weak.  Not only because the weak may one day be strong (as the book argues) but because we are all created by God and of certain inalienable value. 


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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Beggars in Spain

  1. Ben

    ‘Beggars is one of my favorite books, and Nancy Kress (the author) is, in my humble opinion, the uncrowded queen of speculative science fiction. Oh, and she just moved to Seattle, so if you want to go see her in person she tends to be all over the Seattle area these days.

    I follow her blog, she’s a great writer:

  2. Jeff Handley

    So does this mean that you’re leaving Microsoft so that you can just read books and post links to them and get referral fees from Amazon? That’s not a bad gig, really.

    Now I just need to write a book and have you review it. :-)

  3. R. Lawson

    Glad your first post was sci-fi in nature with a bit of ethics added on top. You could have written about RIA or some other technology but you chose science fiction and big picture ideas. Good choice.

    IMHO technology, Internet, globalization, and all of the massive changes the human race has seen since Adam Smith penned “Wealth of Nations” have untold consequences (both good and bad) on our society. Adam Smith would probably not recognize the world as it is today and (unless he was a fan of science fiction or had a big imagination).

    Globalization during the time of Smith was shipping nails across the English Channel, in exchange for wine and cheese. Could he have imagined information workers across the world doing our jobs while we sleep?

    In my opinion what separates the strong from the weak, more so than money, is knowledge. This is why we see people in India growing stronger – forging a new middle class. And the same reason we see other people in India falling into even deeper poverty.

    The Internet is a great equalizer as well as a great divider for those without because of the access to knowledge it provides. More than our biggest competitor in software services, India is the greatest social experiment man-kind has seen since the Bible and Koran.

    I am interested in knowing how cheap energy would change our lives even more than they have already been changed. I am going to read the book when I have time but probably not as quickly as you did. Too busy trying to grok RIA and SL4. LOL.

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. Just as man needs access to knowledge – we need one more ingredient: Inspiration. That is why just about every great person I know has been a fan of science fiction for at least part of their life. Live long and prosper. :-)

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