The concept of removing the need for sleep in humans is likely most well known from the novella “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress. Here we follow someone who volunteers for a military testing program that is trying to achieve that with some experimental drug.

The story is told from the point of view of a young American who volunteered mostly to get out of being drafted to fight forest fires. The others are mostly Mexicans who basically need the money. They all sign a contract prohibiting them from quitting the experiment and they live locked up in a facility as they get the experimental treatment. Our protagonist gets increasingly worried as others start to get life-threateningly ill from the drugs.

The narrative is straight forward and doesn’t have a big dramatic payoff, but the quality lies with its well written characters and the background world building.

Read in Analog March/April 2024
Rating: 3