Techno skepticism in a dystopian world controlled by a few genetically-modified humans, the second of the Beggars trilogy brings to mind Philip Jose Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage” (Dangerous Visions, 1967) where a society lives in trashy decadence on government-provided salaries upon the advent of fully-automated manufacturing and agricultural industries. Both stories share a crude, unenlightened vision of “The Welfare State,” but Kress breaks from Farmer’s negative characterizations of the lower classes by embedding her aloof, self-centered protagonists into the fold of thoughtful, questioning citizens who are confounded by regular breakdowns in technology and a growing sense of isolation from outside affairs.
And finally! After the first volume of bickering between the moderate Sleepless Leisha and her reactionary Sleepless foes, we finally get to see the social decay that Beggars in Spain often fuzzed about.
But first, let’s just come out and say it: The titles for these books are awful. Continue reading