on 20 May 2005
Elena Irinova was a scientist and 'would be' cosmonaut with the Soviet space programme. Since the fall of Communism in the U.S.S.R. she is reduced to cleaning office floors and dreaming of building a new life in Canada. Ilya Muromyets is a drug addict who wishes only for death. Unfortunately for him he is immortal, one of the Russian 'Heroes' of folk tales, and he cannot die except at the hands of another immortal but he's the only one of his kind left.
Elena finds a strange object, a small ball that seems to absorb light, the scientist in her wonders what its purpose is. Ilya is approached by the representative of a mysterious organisation and is asked to find this artefact. Eventually Elena and Ilya come together and learn just what this object and its purpose are.
Nine Layers of Sky is one of those rare books in the sci-fi genre in that it is actually 'different'. Liz Williams has proven, with this latest novel, that she is not a 'one trick pony' and can write an original story that is fast paced and absorbing. Her style can be a little dark and oppressive at times but that suits her stories and in no way detracts from them. It's not a style that will please everyone but for anyone looking for something different, they would go a long way to find better than this.
on 4 July 2013
Reading a more recent novel by another writer involving Russian legends I was reminded of this one, my favourite of the many Liz Williams books I've read. It's set in the depressed post-Soviet Russian empire and intriguingly mixes high tech science fiction with mysterious figures from Russia's legendary past, in particular the immortal hero, Ilya Muromyets, who has become a drug-addicted waster with a death wish. The other central character is Elena, a redundant Soviet scientist now working as a cleaner in Kazakhstan. The two meet and solve a mystery that brings redemption and a new life to both.
For some reason this book didn't prove as popular as the Chen novels or her Martian stories but I loved it and wish she'd written a sequel. Read it as I must again, soon!
This novel by Liz Williams has quite a bit to offer to readers, the central characters have a believability that many of the readers will hook into. Whilst strong in some areas, they do have weaknesses which are bolstered by the other characters strengths and as such make the duo a pair to reckon with.
The plot moves along at quite a pace which rarely gives the reader a chance to put this novel down, not that you'd want to as the many twists throughout will keep you guessing as to what event will unfold next right to the end of the novel. If your looking for something a little different then this is the novel to take home, although a holiday may be ruined as you wont stop until the last page turns.