… 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

Flights of Dark Imagination – Bibliostrumpet 29 September 2011

I love the title of this review – Flights of Dark Imagination.

I have to be honest and say this review has some criticisms of the book, saying there’s too much detail about flight (a criticism I’ve had a few times but also something many readers have told me they’ve loved). There’s some vivid thoughtful praise and the link’s below if you’d like to see the reviewer’s caveats:

“I confess that when I began reading this book, a tiny, scornful voice in my head kept repeating the words, ‘winged humans, this is ridiculous’. But Corbett renders her world in such thorough and vibrant detail that even I was convinced. With lucid, evocative prose, she weaves a wonderfully vivid sense of place, a world of rich colours, sharp contrasts, and soaring perspectives: when Peri flies, it’s ‘sheer giddy pleasure to skim through air, transparent blue and gold,’ and see ‘fields strict as tiles, squares of raw red earth ripped into furrows and laid next to rectangles of emerald pasture, the joins shocking as cuts.’ ….

But When We Have Wings is still a remarkably original and well-executed novel. What’s most striking is how Corbett uses a fantastical concept to reflect our own world so starkly back at us: human wings (or lack thereof) become a metaphor for the dangers of power and privilege, and the human cost of technological advancement. The dilemmas faced by the characters in Corbett’s novel are not, after all, so far removed from our own, although we may not be soaring through the skies for a while yet.”

Toowoomba Chronicle – 3 September 2011

Although a little baffled initially, this reader persisted with the novel and was rewarded for that persistence as Ms Corbett has written a compelling, even mesmerising and imaginative novel…

When We Have Wings is a captivating and unusual story about sacrifice, motherhood and betrayal. It is beautifully written and a great read.

– Terri Roser

AurealisXpress September 2011

From the review: “…truly exciting…a thoroughly convincing, immaculately researched account of a society in which those who can afford it can acquire wings…. There are breathtaking accounts of the skills and dangers of flying, using intimate knowledge of how the air behaves as a medium–updrafts, thermals, clouds, storms…


Best of all, though, is the gripping story….

This wonderful new author unerringly explores the social consequences, and the strains between fliers and non-fliers.” Crisetta MacLeod

Inkling Magazine – August 2011

When We Have Wings
Claire Corbett

A wonderfully imagined speculative fiction set in a world where human flight has become possible through surgically crafted wings and an ongoing drug regime. Only the rich and powerful can afford wings, leading to societal separation of ‘fliers’ and ‘non-fliers’….Poignant, beautiful and achingly human, this story is well worth the read.