XX Hard SF ‘If depth of background research is what sells the book as hard SF, its exploration of sociological and political ideas is probably what will cause it to linger in the reader’s mind’

Simon Petrie’s review of When We Have Wings for his XX Hard SF project, reviewing hard SF by women writers. ‘The writing is resonant and elegant, and lies towards the literary end of the SF spectrum, in the company of authors such as Ursula K Le Guin and M John Harrison. But one of the things that sets the book apart from other lit/SF novels is its hard SF worldbuilding…’


… the advancement of technology, and how that impacts on society as a whole, was spot on, an extrapolation to a not-too-distant future rooting exactly where we are today. And the writing itself is almost entirely wonderful – Corbett has a beautiful style and I would definitely read more from her.

In all, I would recommend When We Have Wings to lovers of science fiction, to literary fiction fans, and to readers looking to stretch their boundaries. It’s not a short book, but it’s worth the effort. – Tehani Wessely, ASIF – Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus

Sisters in Crime Australia

A review from the Sisters in Crime Australia website:


Despite the dead body found on the first page, and one of the narrators being a hard-bitten PI, ‘When we have wings’ is not your classic crime novel. It could have many labels: speculative fiction, urban fantasy, futuristic thriller, but I suggest you put the labels aside, and just go along for the ride.

… the pace is fast, the story exciting, and I just found it really interesting. The descriptions of flight are beautifully lyrical, and I learned a lot about the physics and psychology of flying. I liked that every chapter raised another meaty issue to think about, from climate change, superweeds eating farmland, gene manipulation creating a different species, to working parents and child care, drug abuse, ‘othering’ of those who are different, wealth disparity, abuse of power and so on. It’s a complex world, and like in all worlds, past, present, or future, things are rarely black and white. One of my criteria for a good book is whether I’m still pondering it days after finishing it, and that is certainly the case here. Highly recommended. – Sue Nankervis

From the Barbara Jefferis Award Judges’ Report

From the BJA judges’ report:

Claire Corbett: When We Have Wings (Allen & Unwin)
This unusual and original novel evokes a futuristic world as seen by ‘fliers’, people who find ways to acquire wings and explore the skies. Corbett contrasts a glamorous world of towering cityscapes and floating islands in the sky with an underclass of the flightless: the powerless, the poor and the weak. Crossing several genres – fantasy, thriller, detective story – this novel addresses numerous questions of class, of genetics, of gender, and of what it means to be human. This is a story of great imaginative power in which women’s maternal rights are exploited and ultimately asserted.

LiteraryMinded – Angela Meyer April 26

When We Have Wings is hence densely layered. It’s smart and political, raising the kind of questions the best science fiction should raise (about ethics, about progress, about how future generations will make meaning), but it’s also just damn entertaining. The characters are well-rounded, the story is genuinely exciting, and best of all, Corbett does not pander to her readers. She does not tie everything into a neat little bow. The future is possibly bleak and strange, it may also be exhilarating. Either way, we will have to deal with many of the same issues we deal with now. – Angela Meyer


Read the rest of Angela Meyer’s review here:

Review on NSW Writers’ Centre Blog 366 Days of Writing

Women writers are often accused of dealing with the domestic but Corbett takes to the sky and shows us the panorama of human relationships, deceits and the meaning of love. I am not a devotee of speculative fiction but Corbett has realized a rich and complex society, and for that alone this book is a must-read.

– Meredith Jaffe

Shearer’s Books Blog

‘This unmissable book from a strong new talent should be put at the top of your to-read list…

I was totally immersed in this book, and the world that was created. When We Have Wings works as crime fiction, speculative fiction and literary fiction.’ Mark Harding, Shearer’s Books Blog