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When We Have Wings

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The dream of being able to fly is now physical reality but only the rich and powerful can afford the surgery, drugs, and gene manipulation to become fliers. Peri, a poor girl from the regions, will sacrifice anything to get her wings and join this elite but the price is higher than she could have imagined. So why then does she throw it all away?
Paperback, 460 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Allen & Unwin (first published June 27th 2011)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  364 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Ann-Marie by: Elizabeth
I do hope she writes a sequel! Claire Corbett has created a world I hope to read more about. I put this novel in my SF-Fantasy shelf even though it´s much much more than that and I definitely don´t want to scare anyone from reading it. The story is set in a future were man has learnt to manipulate nature and shape himself into fliers among a lot of other developments.

In the society, the city, there is an increasing tension between fliers and non-fliers because the fliers see themselves as a sup
S.B. Wright
When We have Wings is Claire Corbett’s debut novel, though from page one the reader is in no doubt that Corbett is a practised and skilled writer.

It’s rare as a reviewer that I get surprised by a work, when you read a lot of quality fiction your expectations are high. When We have Wings enchanted me as I was reading it and had me deep in thought when I wasn’t.

The Tale

When We have Wings is set in a near future Australia[1] where sea levels have risen and our tampering with genetics has altered
Annabel Smith
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
When We Have Wings explores issues of money and class against the backdrop of a future society in which through surgery, drugs and gene manipulation, flight has become possible, but only for the rich.

Peri, a poor girl with a shadowy past, earns her wings when she becomes a nanny to the Chessyres, a rich and powerful flier family. But when her only friend dies under mysterious circumstances, Peri flees the world she worked so hard to become part of, taking baby Hugo with her.

The world of flight,
"They never gave up anything, they never risked anything, and the less they did for him, the less they loved him. I thought it was the other way round, that they did nothing for him because they didn't love him."

I am a little disappointed.
The book synopsis seemed very appealing, but in the end the word that occur me to describe the story is boring.
There are a few high moments, but in general, I didn't like it much.
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This debut novel by Australian author Claire Corbett is a fantasy set in a future where humans can fly thanks to surgery, gene manipulation and an ongoing drug regime. But such a process is extremely expensive and therefore only available to the rich, thus dividing society into fliers and non-fliers.

From the first page of When We Have Wings I was immediately dropped into the action of story - where people can fly - without any character or story background at all. At first this was a shock and I
Angela Meyer
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
*re-posted from my blog:

The main theme, and dilemma, for the two main characters in When We Have Wings is an old one: how do we deal with technological progress, the divides it can create (between classes, between generations), and the power it may provide to a privileged few? More specifically, how does someone raising a child in a rapidly changing environment make decisions about their future?

But the main reasons you should read this novel are:

1. people can fly
2. o
Karen Brooks
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This would have to be one of the most original and thought-provoking books I've read in a long time. Exquisitely written and populated by characters about whom you care, the novel is a wonderful melange of genres. Encompassing science-fiction, crime and fantasy it is also a considered tale that deals with fascinating and all too real philosophical issues including the timeless one of just what it means to be human. Adding a delicate frisson to this is the role of science and surgery and just how ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Part Mieville-like mystery, part Kress-like genetically modified future. Methinks we'll be seeing this book on some shortlists come Awards Season :)

Now. Time for honesty. Before I quit work, I was on my way to becoming a specialist Avian veterinarian. I expected to find holes in this.

Nope. No holes. Excellent research. I mean, there's a teensy bit of handwavey with the absence of a steering mechanism and the convenient super-strong flight muscles that don't require alteration of the existin
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When We Have Wings is an wonderfully ambitious debut set in a truelly unique world. In this world Mankind has made the ability to fly with wings by humans a reality. That reality though is expensive with only the rich able to afford the operation to have wings attached. The story centres on young flier nanny Perri who has alegedly taken the child of rich couple Peter and Avis Chesshyre. the Chesshyres Hire investigator Zeke to try to find Perri and Hugo.

Early on their is suspicion about how Perr
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When We Have Wings is an ambitious debut novel set in a world where the dream of human flight has become a reality, thanks to science, genetic manipulation and money, lots of money. The world is divided into fliers and non-fliers and this ever-widening gap continues to grow as the fliers seek to set themselves apart in every respect, from those without wings.
Peri is a young girl who has escaped a deprived upbringing and has come to the city determined to raise herself above her past, literally,
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gems
Brilliant and evocative, When We Have Wings is an extraordinary tale set in a future in which eugenics has given humanity wings and Flight, and capitalism has turned this into a defining social class structure.

Peri Almond is a young nanny for a flier couple, who have given her everything a girl from a poor background could possibly want - a life in a luxurious home, security, and most amazingly of all, wings. So when the novel begins with Peri inexplicably fleeing her employers, with their baby
Like others, I hope Corbett writes a sequel. I have become thoroughly engaged with the world she's imagined and the characters she's made. You can read the blurb for yourself, so I won't go much into plot here.
What made this great was the complete cohesion with which the science-fiction elements were formed into a relatable world and then woven into a story. The idea of being technologically advanced enough in genetic manipulation for humans (some at least) to become fliers is fantastic enough t
Alison Quigley
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Circumstances tore me away from partaking in one of Claire’s workshops at Varuna Writers Centre this year. Now I’ve had time to read her first novel and I am astonished at its level of craftsmanship and beauty. Here is a plot that forces us to question the values we hold dear as we progress towards the kind of science that will allow us to genetically alter our offspring. The plot is as compelling as its visual descriptions of flight and of architecture. Whilst I strongly recommend this book to ...more
Jamie Bridle
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book 5 stars because it is extremely well written with great sci-fi. However it was not exactly my cup of tea. The story is thorough and satisfying with good characterisation. The book had been marked as 'staff pick' (I borrowed it from the library), and I guess I can see why.

For my tastes, there was too much concentration on the social relationships of the characters, and that these had little bearing on the overall story. It was like the story went on pause while the characters had
Richard D.
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
When We Have Wings is simply the best novel I have read in many years. Beauty is everywhere in the Wings world: a sophisticated, satisfying beauty, free from vulgar displays. Social commentary sweeps across a good fraction of the issues facing us today without ever needing to take the headlines. The world is simply presented as it is, with the logical consequences of the past quietly written in. There is great strength and human weakness to be seen here, aching passion and burning hatred. And, a ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I did prepare for an easy read when I rented this book at the local library. The first half was quite okay, not amazing, but a relaxing read. At some point, half way through the book, the author tries to explain the mechanism of flying. She does this by mentioning random technical terms, in a totally unreadable manner. I basically skipped the whole chapter. Unfortunately, after this chapter, the book doesn't get much better anymore. I did finish the book, because the story was just interes ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took me a little while to get into this, but once I did it was a great read and I couldn't put it down. Whilst the writing style did take me a while to get used to, once I got lost in it, the descriptions of flight could be incredibly immersive. I enjoyed the characters and the plot, although I found the ending a little disappointing - it didn't quite wrap everything up from me. I would love to pick up a sequel if there ever is one! ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent fantasy/speculative fiction. Corbett creates a vivid and detailed future world in which genetic engineering allows us to have wings, provided we can afford them. Good social commentary, philosophy, well-fleshed out characters. My only critique is that there was a tad too much detail on lift and drag and all the other elements of flight.

Highly recommended if you like this genre. I look forward to her next book!
Veronica Strachan
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Thorough and thriller all in one. Complex grasp of world building, ethics, societal decay and culture. All in a fabulous speculative fiction skin - with wings. The characters were deftly written and made you feel for them.
There was a little too much technical prose on the mechanics of flight which, for me, bumped me out of the story of the people and the world and reduced the urgency of the action.
A great story, cleverly composed.
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is my first review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012, and can also be viewed at along with my other Challenge reviews.

What would life be like, how would our cities look, what would our values be, and who would we be when we have wings?

Claire Corbett masterfully addresses these questions and more in her debut novel 'When We Have Wings', published by Allen and Unwin in 2011.

The story is set sometime in the future, when bioengineering has made it possible for h
Bernard Campbell
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
good read, a future where we can assignment our bodies to have wings. only the elite can afford them, what kind of world would we create with a divide between those that have and those that don't when those that have can fly?
mixed in with a mystery an old retired detective searches for more than he needs to to find the answers.
Cathleen Ross
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fearful and haunting. A great commentary on class structure and how much should we tamper with the human genome. Really enjoyed the dilemma of the main protagonists, Peri and the Chessyres. Those who don't have money versus those who do. Complex, involving. A great read as always from Claire Corbett. ...more
This book leaves me wanting more. The world is fascinating, the ideas complex and challenging. I loved it.
Dr Jen
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Compelling, lyrical, eloquent, evocative, vivid: just some of the reasons why once you start to read Claire Corbett's When We Have Wings you won't be able to put it down. Sure, there are issues to ponder - what it means to be human (in mind and body), what are the manifestations of power and inequity in our society, political and theological implications of technological advancements - but it is the finely crafted and complex depictions of characters and their dilemmas in this world where flight ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fantasy, science-fiction, adult and young adult readers
Right from the first few pages I was intensely interested in When We Have Wings Claire Corbett’s first science-fiction novel.

The protagonist, Peri, is flying, carrying baby Hugo and searching for her missing friend Luisa. The scene is frightening and real and somehow I know that this isn’t a caricature world but something much closer to home. It’s clear that Peri is in mortal danger and has brought Hugo into that danger with her. A baby who doesn’t belong to her; a baby recklessly exposed to th
Tsana Dolichva
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett is set in a vaguely near future Sydney where the rich can fly thanks to having wings implanted on their backs.

Before I get into talking about the story, I want to point out that, from a physics point of view, Corbett has described a very plausible situation. The wings people get are quite large (the impression I got was comparable to the height of the person) and they also get treatments to change the physiology to make their bones lighter (carbon fibre was i
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
* May contain spoilers for the book in this review - Also my first review.*

I finished 'When We Have Wings' at 4AM in the morning after some marathon reading. It had me going with such a drive to keep reading. There is so much I loved about this book. The characters were amazing, they were so vivid and real. Each were so human, with their issues, the factors that made them who they were and that there was still good parts to them (Obviously a few exceptions for certain characters. Yet maybe as a
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of YA fiction and speculative fiction
Shelves: favorites
This is a stunning novel – beautifully written and gorgeous with its imagery, the novel is more than just words on a page. The implication of technological advancement and how it will influence class (and even generation to generation) is represented through the ‘haves’ (wealthy fliers) and the ‘have nots’ (everyone else). The cost of wings, however, is more than just monetary – as Zeke finds out. What makes this story compelling is the narrative, split between two voices. It begins with a third ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Peri is a poor girl from the sticks who has paid a huge price to get wings. Now she's disappeared. Zeke is the struggling, flightless private investigator hired to find her. This is a world where having money means being able to fly, and where those without wings are rapidly becoming second class - even obsolete - citizens.
It was great to read a novel which looked at the issue of how the rich get ahead not just by having more things, but by being more 'perfect'. This is really well told through
Lauren K
3.5 stars

This story took me a little while to really get into. It almost reads like two stories from two separate genres. There’s the crime fiction story told from the perspective of Zeke, a private investigator hired by a family whose baby has been kidnapped by their nanny. Then there is the speculative scifi/ fantasy story written from the perspective of Peri, the nanny with wings. In the beginning I wasn’t entirely sure the meshing of the genres really worked, but it eventually all came toget
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Claire Corbett is a writer. She was born in Canada and has worked in film and government policy. Her first novel, WHEN WE HAVE WINGS, was published in 2011 by Allen & Unwin and shortlisted for the 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award and the 2012 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction and published overseas.

Recent fiction and essays have been published in a range of journals, including Best Australian Sto

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