Goodreads ratings
3.6 / 5

"Air" Characters Analysis

By Geoff Ryman

science fiction | 400 pages | Published in 2004

Chung Mae is the only connection her small farming village has to culture of a wider world beyond the fields and simple houses of her village. A new communications technology is sweeping the world and promises to connect everyone, everywhere without power lines, computers, or machines. This technology is Air. An initial testing of Air goes disastrously wrong and people are killed from the shock. Not to be stopped Air is arriving with or without the blessing of Mae's village. Mae is the only one who knows how to harness Air and ready her people for it's arrival, but will they listen before it's too late?


Estimated read time: 7 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Chung MaeProtagonist
AirSupporting Character
Mae's FamilySupporting Characters
Other VillagersSupporting Characters

Role Identification

In the novel "Air" by Geoff Ryman, the characters play various roles that contribute to the overall narrative. The protagonist, Chung Mae, is a central figure who experiences personal growth and transformation throughout the story. The antagonist, Kite, poses a threat to Mae's village and challenges her beliefs. The supporting character, Air, serves as a supernatural force that affects the lives of the villagers. Mae's family and the other villagers add depth to the story and provide a sense of community.

Character Descriptions

  1. Chung Mae: Mae is a hardworking and resilient woman who lives in a small village called Karzistan. She works as a food inspector and takes great pride in her job. Mae is portrayed as compassionate and caring towards her family and neighbors. She is determined to protect her village from external threats.
  2. Kite: Kite is a mysterious and enigmatic figure who arrives in Karzistan and disrupts the lives of the villagers. He has a charismatic personality and manipulates others to serve his own interests. Kite represents an external force that challenges the status quo and forces Mae to question her beliefs.
  3. Air: Air is a supernatural entity that can transmit information and experiences directly into people's minds. It has the ability to influence emotions and behaviors, causing both positive and negative effects on the villagers. Air is depicted as a powerful and unpredictable force that impacts the characters' lives in profound ways.
  4. Mae's Family: Mae's family members, including her husband, children, and extended relatives, are supportive and loving. They provide Mae with a sense of stability and serve as a source of motivation for her actions throughout the story.
  5. Other Villagers: The other villagers in Karzistan represent a diverse community with their own hopes, dreams, and struggles. They interact with Mae and are influenced by the events unfolding in the village. Each villager contributes to the collective experience and adds depth to the narrative.

Character Traits

  1. Chung Mae: Mae is determined, compassionate, resilient, and hardworking. She is driven by her love for her family and her desire to protect her community. Mae's strong sense of justice and loyalty are evident in her actions throughout the story.
  2. Kite: Kite is manipulative, charismatic, and cunning. He uses his charm and persuasion to manipulate others for his own gain. Kite's actions and motives are often shrouded in mystery, adding a sense of tension and suspense to the narrative.
  3. Air: Air is powerful, unpredictable, and ethereal. It has the ability to influence the emotions and behaviors of the villagers, causing both positive and negative effects. Air's role in the story highlights the impact of external forces on individual lives and communities.
  4. Mae's Family: Mae's family members are supportive, loving, and resilient. They provide a sense of stability and serve as a source of motivation for Mae. Their presence highlights the importance of family and community in the face of adversity.
  5. Other Villagers: The other villagers in Karzistan exhibit a range of traits, including perseverance, fear, curiosity, and resilience. Each character represents a unique perspective and contributes to the overall narrative.

Character Background

  1. Chung Mae: Mae grew up in Karzistan and has lived there her entire life. She comes from a humble background and values hard work and community. Mae's background shapes her strong connection to her village and her determination to protect it.
  2. Kite: Kite's background remains largely mysterious throughout the novel. He arrives in Karzistan with a hidden agenda, and his true motives are slowly revealed as the story progresses. Kite's background adds an element of suspense and intrigue to the narrative.
  3. Air: Air's origin and background are not explicitly defined in the novel. It is presented as a supernatural force that exists beyond human comprehension. Air's lack of a clear background adds to its mystique and reinforces its role as a powerful and enigmatic entity.
  4. Mae's Family: Mae's family members have their own unique backgrounds and experiences. They have lived in Karzistan for generations, and their connection to the village is deeply rooted. Their backgrounds contribute to their strong sense of community and their desire to protect their way of life.
  5. Other Villagers: The other villagers in Karzistan come from diverse backgrounds and have their own personal histories. Their backgrounds shape their individual perspectives and experiences, highlighting the richness and complexity of the community.

Character Arcs

  1. Chung Mae: Mae's character arc in "Air" is one of personal growth and self-discovery. Initially focused on her role as a food inspector, Mae's encounters with Kite and the influence of Air challenge her beliefs and force her to question the status quo. Throughout the story, Mae becomes more aware of the larger issues affecting her village and takes on a leadership role in protecting her community.
  2. Kite: Kite's character arc revolves around his manipulation and exploitation of the villagers. As the story progresses, his true motives and background are gradually revealed. Kite's character arc serves as a catalyst for Mae's own journey and highlights the dangers of unchecked power.
  3. Air: As a supernatural entity, Air does not undergo a traditional character arc. However, its interactions with the villagers, including Mae, result in significant changes in their lives and perspectives. Air's influence on the characters reflects the transformative power of external forces.
  4. Mae's Family: While Mae's family members do not undergo individual character arcs, their unwavering support for Mae and their resilience in the face of challenges contribute to the overall narrative. Their presence reinforces the importance of familial bonds and community support.
  5. Other Villagers: Some villagers experience their own character arcs as they are influenced by the events unfolding in Karzistan. Their perspectives and actions evolve throughout the story, reflecting the impact of external forces on individual growth and change.


  1. Chung Mae and Kite: Chung Mae's relationship with Kite is complex and fraught with tension. Initially, Mae is intrigued by Kite's charm and charisma, but as she uncovers his true intentions, their relationship becomes adversarial. Kite's presence challenges Mae's beliefs and forces her to confront her own vulnerabilities.
  2. Chung Mae and Air: Chung Mae's relationship with Air is one of symbiosis and conflict. Air's influence on Mae and the villagers is both positive and negative, leading to emotional and behavioral changes. Mae's struggle to understand and navigate this relationship drives the narrative forward.
  3. Chung Mae and her Family: Chung Mae shares a close and loving relationship with her family. They provide emotional support and serve as a source of motivation for her actions. Mae's family's unwavering belief in her strengthens her resolve to protect her village.
  4. Other Villagers: The relationships between the other villagers contribute to the sense of community in Karzistan. They rely on one another for support, and their interactions reflect the collective experience of the community. These relationships highlight the resilience and strength of the villagers in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, "Air" by Geoff Ryman features a diverse cast of characters who play distinct roles in the narrative. Chung Mae's personal growth, Kite's disruptive presence, Air's supernatural influence, the importance of Mae's family, and the interconnectedness of the villagers contribute to a rich and complex story. The character analysis provides insight into the traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships of these characters, shedding light on their significance within the novel.