“On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus,” is a stunning satirical debut novel by Brett M. Wiens.
The story begins with the protagonist, Cygnus, finding himself stranded on an island after he is in a plane crash. This island is ruled by horses with a high level of sentience. They are the masters of feral humans. After he escapes this place, he repeatedly finds himself ending up on different islands. Each place has something interesting for him to observe about the ways of the people. None of these lands are recorded on our maps. Cygnus must overcome obstacles in each place in order to find his way home. His observations of the people and their treatment of him makes for a very interesting story.
“On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus,” is written as a modern-day Gulliver’s Travels. The author does an exceptional job of rewriting the political satire through the eyes of Cygnus, a man who finds himself following in similar steps of Gulliver. Set almost three hundred years in the future, the islands that Cygnus travels are like those of Gulliver. Even more so in that the places he journeys to are set in about the same time frame as those of Gulliver. The creative difference is that Cygnus is used to living with modern technology and the islands that he travels to have none. Despite this, the people and the politics are very similar. This indicates that we have not evolved very much since the 1700s!
Cygnus observes and is often forced to react to the limited minds that he encounters. Whether they be feral horses, little people, or giants, each group of characters has flaws. Most of the limitations are brought about by an unwillingness and lack of interest in looking at the world outside their narrow worlds. This results in assumptions being made, and people being stuck in mediocrity or even a failing system because they fear change. His journey makes for a compelling read. Readers will see that this is a multilayered tale. They can just sit back and enjoy this adventurous journey, or they can delve deeper and observe the issues presented that relate to politics, economics, sociology and philosophy. I enjoyed being able to do both. The author does a fantastic job of using descriptive detail to bring the characters and places to life.
I think that “On Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus,” by Brett M. Wiens would be a great selection for readers’ groups and even required reading for a class. Interesting discussions are guaranteed to follow. I look forward to reading future works by this talented author.