I believe this was in a sci fi collection from 1975 or 1976 or somewhere around there. It was sci-fi ish, on a planet consisting of islands. In order to communicate between islands people have to put on wings, or wingsuits or something like that. Only certain people are allowed to have wings. The main character, a girl, is a skilled flier but for some reason has to give up her wings so that (I think) her brother can have them. She has concerns that her brother isn't a very good flier.

That's all I can remember, hopefully it's enough!

2 Answers 2


This is the novella "The Storms of Windhaven", by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle (later collected with other stories in the same setting as the novel it became part of, Windhaven).

The wings are a scarce resource, made from the solar sail film that brought humans to Windhaven long ago -- and once lost, they can't be replaced. Yet, every year, a pair or two is lost because fliers who shouldn't be flying have inherited the wings, instead of people who have a talent for flight, who are instead denied because they don't have the right parents.

The protagonist, as you recall, is a girl, and she is denied the wings she grew up with, not because she's a girl (there are many women fliers), but because she is a foster child, and the son of the flier whose wings she has used for years will inherit them -- and, she is sure, lose another pair to the stormy seas.

She sets out to do something about this -- and ends up changing the world.

  • The question is asking about the novella, since it's identified as a short story, and the time frame (1975-76) predates the novel (1981).
    – DavidW
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:18
  • 1
    I agree -- editing to reflect that it was collected with other Windhaven stories to create the novel some years later.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:19
  • ISFDb entry for "The Storms of Windhaven"; you can see there it was published in 2 years-best anthologies in 1976.
    – DavidW
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:24
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    I read it in Analog at first publication, along with most of the other stories that got collected as they came out.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:49

I immediately recognised this as from the fixup novel Windhaven by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle (previously identified in A novel about humans on a water planet who used iron-wings made from a ruined settler ship) but as DavidW points out in a comment the date range given would make it the novella The Storms of Windhaven published in 1975. The novella was subsequently incorporated into the novel in 1981.

The girl is Maris and her brother is Coll.

Until the night when the same father told her that Coll, baby Coll, must have her wings.

"I am a far better flyer than he will ever be," Maris told him now, on the beach, her voice trembling.

"I do not dispute that. It makes no difference. He is my own blood."

"It's not fair!" she cried, letting out the protest that had been lodged inside her since the day she had come of age. By then Coll had been strong, healthy; still too small to bear the wings, but they would be his on his coming-of-age day. Maris had no claim, no right at all. That was the law of the flyers, stretching back through generations to the star sailors themselves, the legendary wing-forgers. The first-born child of each of the flying families would inherit the wings of the parent. Skill counted for nothing; this was a law of inheritance, and Maris came from a fishing family who had nothing to leave her but the scattered wreckage of a wooden boat.

"Fair or no, it is the law, Maris. You've known it for a long time, even if you chose to ignore it. For years you've played at being a flyer, and I've let you, because you loved it, and because Coll needed a teacher, a skilled one, and because this island is too big to rely on only two flyers. But you knew all the while this day would come."

  • thewertzone.blogspot.com/2012/05/… nice review here
    – Valorum
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:10
  • Since the question is about a short story, this is probably "The Storms of Windhaven" which made it into both Carr's and Wollheim's year's best collections in 1976. (Whereas the novel is from 1981, after the time period in the question.)
    – DavidW
    Jun 3, 2021 at 17:17
  • @DavidW good point! Thanks :-) Jun 3, 2021 at 17:34
  • Thanks! I accepted the other answer because it was indeed the short story I was looking for. I actually didn't know that there was a whole novel about it. Jun 3, 2021 at 18:17
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    @MichaelStachowsky I'd suggest getting it -- you should be able to find a used paperback or possibly ebook form, even though I'm pretty sure it's been out of print for a while. My copy is mine...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 4, 2021 at 18:17

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