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Inkspot Fancy

Comics and fantasy and sci-fi, oh my!

Currently reading

The House on the Borderland
William Hope Hodgson
Dust and Light: A Sanctuary Novel
Carol Berg
The Dead
Jen Hickman, Robert James Maddox
Deadlands: Dead Man's Hand
David Gallaher, Jeff Mariotte, Jimmy Palmiotti
Ghost Hunt 2
Shiho Inada, Fuyumi Ono
Devil Survivor 1
Satoru Matsuba
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress Let's start with something that doesn't sound like much a compliment, but actually is - I didn't skim the final quarter of this book.Which under normal circumstances is a given. I like books, and I like reading books. But one thing I hate about reading is leaving off before the end. So, if by the middle a book hasn't grabbed me, I start to skim. Pick up the high points, figure out the overall resolution, and then forget all about it.I fully expected to be doing so with this book. There were points while reading this that I alternated between boredom and an almost frustrated rage, because there were so many good ideas, so many worthwhile things this book could have been, and it kept eschewing all of them in favor of long, talky scenes that for the most part consist of people standing around and discussing something that already happened, instead of showing us the thing actually *happening.*The parts of the book where we were actually in the moment - the first and last bits - were for this reason a lot more engaging story-wise. I understand the first bit was originally a stand-alone novella, and while I still would have had problems with it, that section is clearly the most developed, the most *human* part of this book, and was the most enjoyable. The last part, while not as engaging to me, still followed the Beggars (A particular subgroup of a particular faction) as they're actively working toward a specific end and dealing with their own morals and ethics and feelings in the process.But the part in the middle? Tedious, frustrating and, for me at least, seemingly endless. characters with limited to no real effect. Questionable themes. Which I'm going to now put behind a spoiler cut in case you're not interested in reading them ahead of time.There's two basic philosophies in the world of Beggars in Spain. One is the Yagaiism subscribed to by the Sleepless and a few other successful people and which bears striking similarities to Ayn Rand's Objectivism. The other is an increasingly communist-styled republic in the United States. I... think? the point was that neither of these is a good as a sole philosophy. But the problem is, she took the very worst of both of these. On the Communist side, we see that the Rand-ish idea that most people just want to be taken care of and will not be productive if you let them is utterly true in this reality. And as the needs of the many increase, then the society simply puts more and more pressure on the best rather than encouraging and celebrating the idea of honest work for a larger percent of its populace (about 20% of Americans in this world work). And then there's the extremely troubling idea that most of the people working are genetically enhanced. Regular people are, it seems, utterly incapable of self-motivation or achievement. We actually get one non-enhanced person who seems to have some motivation, but he's unable to get anywhere, gain any traction, make any real strides until he's "improved" genetically. The only thing normal people are shown to actually do positively is support the sleepless, which is pretty insulting to humanity as a whole.On the other side, you have the Yagaiists, but they (with the exception of the little conclave Leisha builds around herself) manage to somehow take objectivism and make it *worse.* Most objectivists I've met tend to believe that willful charity is fine - if you wish to help those who can't support themselves its your business, the government and society just shouldn't force you to do so. But Sanctuary doesn't even believe you should have the option of charity. If your child is born with a problem that would impact its productivity? Kill it. If a person is injured and no longer able to work as they could previously? Kill it. And then there's the idea that an objectivist society will inevitably define productivity in terms of what they themselves want and need. So the result of having these two absolutely absurd caricatures presented straight-faced is that everyone comes off as extreme, reactionary, often paranoid, and deeply ignorant about some very basic things. The biggest surprise to me was that they didn't engage in mutually assured destruction made reality. Those who don't, like Leisha, seem to be sort of floating and lost.I think I can probably recommend that if you're curious, you should read the novella. I've not read it, and at this point I doubt I will, but if it's essentially the first bit of this book, then its a worthwhile read even if you don't care much for the themes. But I can't in good faith recommend this full version.