Leif in the Wind


  • First publication
    • Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, 2010.


Lief won't come in from his space-walk after a mission to explore a lifeless world. He says, "I'm full of birds."


  • The birds seem somewhat positive -- small when they are let close, big and threatening when feared and pushed away. It reminds me of spiritual experience.
  • Of the three couples who set out on the mission to a planet near Beta Andromedae, only three people have survived, leaving a love triangle. Depression and suicide may have killed the others -- there wasn't much obvious danger on the thirty-year mission, now half over. The remaining astronauts know they need a connection to survive. Ena may have found hers in the end with her bird. Brennan is likely not to make it, since he fears the birds the most and talks of killing them. Leif sacrificed himself for the others because of their fears (he had some of his own to begin with, but he comes to acceptance). If Ena comes back alone, she has her bird and the hope Walt may be unfrozen.
  • The reference to Emily Dickinson is very appropriate:

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune--without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I've heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.
  • The original couples were Leif/Alaia, Brennan/Barbara, and Walt/Ena. Only Ena, Brennan, and Leif remain at the start of this story.
  • The name Leif means "heir; loved". The most famous is Leif Ericson, Norse explorer and son of Erik the Red.
  • The name 'Alaia' means "joyful, happy" in Basque. In Arabic, it means "sublime".
  • The name 'Brennan' means "descendent of Braonán". Braonán is a name meaning "sorrow" or "teardrop".
  • The name 'Barbara' is derived from the Greek 'barbaros', meaning 'foreign'. There is a famous Saint Barbara that was murdered by her father. Could this Barbara have been murdered too?
  • The name 'Walt' is short for Walter, a Germanic name meaning "commander of the army".
  • The name Ena could be short for Irena (Greek goddess of peace) or for Eithne ("kernel" in Gaelic). The latter is more interesting with its plant seed reference, since Leif starts thinking of people as trees for birds. Eithne was the name of a 5th-century Irish saint who was a follower of Saint Patrick. Ena is also a girl's name in Hebrew, meaning "renewer".
  • Sources of quotes
  • References to other works
  • Theories about what happens under the surface, what the narrator isn't telling us, who the narrator is and when and why s/he is telling the story, what the whole thing "means," etc.
    If there are multiple or competing theories, each one should be given a name with a three-bang (!!!) header; if the page begins to get out-of-hand from the size of these, as could happen in a few cases, they should be shuffled off to their own page(s).
  • Etc.

Unresolved Questions

  • Was it A or was it B, or was it X or Z?
  • Was it he or was it she, or was it you or me?
  • Who dunnit?
  • Did the Star Child really start WWIII at the end of 2001?