Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ursula K Le Guin's "The Flyers of Gy" (short story, fantasy, free): It's a hard life for the physically "different"!

Quote from short story titled The Flyers of Gy by Ursula K Le GuinI doubt it's intended that way, but it felt like the story of the third sex - neither male nor female, yet both - still shunned in many societies, or at least looked upon condescendingly. There have sometimes been demands in India to make the government forms give a choice other than male/female in sex column.

At a certain level, this is a highly fantasized version of it. As also of society's tendency to reward the normal, & often discourage the deviation from normal - even when the deviation ought to a desirable one.

Story sometimes uses "Gy", other times "Gyr", to refer to the world where the story is set. It uses the term "plane" where "planetary" might have been meant (but author tells us it's intentional - in this interview). "Man" & "woman" are used for bird-beings of this world who are otherwise very different from human beings; I recall an instance of "human beings" used to refer to them.

In answer to one of the questions in this interview (about 75% of the way through), author tells us this story is going to be part of a series; she also provides some contextual information on this story.

Story summary.

We don't know if narrator is one of the Gyr, or a tourist; this world is a popular tourist destination.

The normal intelligent beings on this world are non-flying birds - 6 limbed (legs & arms like us, plus useless wing appendages). But one in a thousand will develop his or her wings - during late teens. Because of their rarity, wings are considered a major deformity - entire society is organized for wingless beings.

In tribal societies, kids developing wings are killed. Urban societies are more tolerant, & merely consider them a handicap.

Even in urban areas, to conform, many of those who develop wings bind them & choose never to fly! But there are some who do, & love it once they overcome the initial fears ingrained by all the conditioning.

And yet there is a longing among the grounded - kind of envy towards those who fly.

Fact sheet.

First published: scifi.com, 8 November 2000.
Rating: B
Download full text.


ernalve said...

Hi, I'm doing a web research into literature engaging the topic of flying humans, it's for a performance, do you know of any other stories with this topic?

thanks a lot,


Tinkoo said...

ernalve: Try Hogbens series of stories by Henry Kuttner & C L Moore. About a half dozen stories, hilarious ones. Flying humans aren't primary, but are there.

Tinkoo said...

Also see Heinlein's "Menace from Earth". Has a large episode of humans flying by strapping on artificial wings in a large enclosed space on Moon.

I don't have URL handy, but I've a feeling I've seen it online.

ernalve said...

thanks, tinkoo