There are two kinds of people who can fly: the kind that are born with wings and the kind that gets a pair of wings and then learns to fly.
Although I like stories about both, isn’t it sort of cool to read a story where basically anyone might in theory learn to fly? You, for example, if you happened to walk through the correct portal.
And I don’t mean like in an airplane, even in a world like the one in the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn.
No fair if you need to become a test pilot in order to fly.
Wings, not airplanes.
Here are the SFF stories I can think of where people — basically ordinary people — learn to fly.
Windhaven by Lisa Tuttle and George RR Martin. I first read this ages ago, way before GRR Martin was famous, or at least way before I knew his name. I sort of liked it? Or to be more accurate, I liked the part about flying a lot and the part about gritty politics not so much.
Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I didn’t really care for the first book, Red Mars. I disliked most of the characters and reading about a failed rebellion, well, not really a lot of fun there. I liked Green Mars the best because I liked the main pov characters much better, the terraforming was all very fascinating, and a successful rebellion yields a far more appealing plot arc. But it’s Blue Mars where the technology for flight develops and is used. It’s not a major element of the book, don’t get me wrong, but it is one of my favorite bits. KSR is really good at description and I can close my eyes and visualize flight.
The Green Sky trilogy by Zipha Keatley Snyder. These were so lovely. Not flawless, but I really enjoyed them when I was a kid. Also, the cover on Goodreads is pretty bad, but the original cover no doubt led me to pick this book up in the first place, because it is also lovely.
Such beautiful images . . . giant trees, a gentle pastoral life, gliding . . . of course that isn’t quite flying, but close enough, close enough.
The computer game for the Commodor 64 that was based on this trilogy was also deeply charming. First computer game I ever spent a significant amount of time playing. Still the one I think of wistfully. Too bad there doesn’t seem to be a modern version.
Okay, here’s one I haven’t read that I hear is reminiscent of Snyder’s trilogy:
Updraft by Fran Wilde. From the cover, I guess this is a hang glider rather than wings?
Someday I will read this and enjoy the flight involved, even if people don’t actually have wings.
Okay, and of course one more:
I never really thought about what other stories involving flight might have helped inspire this book. But, yeah, I’m pretty sure Winghaven and The Green Sky trilogy were in there somewhere.
Stories where people can fly, or at least glide: got any I missed?