“The Flying Woman” by Meghan McCarron
True to the love/relationships theme Strange Horizons seems to be running lately, “The Flying Woman” by Meghan McCarron is another such offering, and it is a very good story. A young girl has a bizarre religious experience and rises to the church ceiling in rapture. She comes back too soon and loses control, paralyzing herself in the fall. As a grown woman with an inexplicable gift, she embarks on an amazing odyssey, strapping a wheelchair to her back and flying to where she will. Then she encounters two kinds of love, and two kinds of pain.
“The Flying Woman” sits comfortably between slipstream and erotica, but McCarron has brought more to this than just a gratuitous girl-on-girl encounter. This is a story with depth and pathos, and the SF-nal elements are underplayed masterfully against a backdrop of struggle and confusion. The freedom the disabled protagonist discovers through her ability to fly is simply a joy to read.
In very little time, McCarron gives the reader a solid background for the protagonist and the narrator, and maintains this consistency. Whether speaking in allegories about an actual experience or simply a keen observer of life, McCarron has drawn on complete authenticity as far as her characters’ relationships go. The speculative element in this piece is hardly necessary, but whether an allegory or not, it somehow fits.
“The Flying Woman” is right up there in quality, a polished and professional offering in Strange Horizons. We can only hope to see more from the talented Meghan McCarron.