Short Story #84: The Wind People by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Title:  The Wind People

Author:  Marion Zimmer Bradley

Summary

Damon Knight - A Century of Science Fiction
After eight months on a habitable planet, the crew are ready to go home but Helen, a doctor, has given birth one month premature to her baby boy, Robin.  The method of space travel is enough that it would kill the baby and so Helen refuses to go and stays on the planet while the others leave, knowing that there were be no one to return for decades.  The story jumps a few years and there, showing Robin, the child growing up as a solitary child with Helen.  However, slowly it is revealed that Helen was not impregnated by one of the crewmates but by someone on the planet (that they presumed is without intelligent life forms).  Helen refuses to believe that these people actually exist but Robin continues to hear and see them.  The strain of believe and disbelief builds between them and eventually, Eventually, Robin flees into the woods to meet the wind people and Helen pursues and gives in to the idea that they are real.  In the woods, she encounters the man she had met so many years ago and believes that this is actually Robin in some future state of existence.  In her hysterics, she believes she's committed incest and flings herself from the cliff.    

Reflection

I got a bit lost at the end of this as I wasn't sure how we got from wind people to incest.  It can make some reasonable sense but I guess it didn't seem as clear on the initial read.  It's also possible to just claim that the years of solitude had done its number on Helen and this was her slipping into insanity.  There's also the parallel of her suicide with a man on the ship that leaves her behind (the man who believed he was the father of the newborn Robin).  There is some symmetry with having Robin be both child and father on the strange planet but I think more could have been done to establish that if that were the case.

Short Story #84 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  3/21/2004
Source:  A Century of Science Fiction, edited by Damon Knight. Simon & Schuster, 1962.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



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