Bantam, Sept 2003, 5.99, 448 pp.
The collapse of the Soviet Union meant the end of hope for people like Elena. She had earned her degree in astrophysics and worked on earth on the construction of the MIR space station, hoping one day to go into space. Now she works at a cleaning woman in Uzbekistan selling black market goods across the border in Akazahstsn hoping to earn enough money so that she, her sister and mother can purchase visas that will allow them to settle in Canada.
One day while crossing the border, she picks up a sphere that an ambulance driver dropped and takes it home with her. This action brings Ilya Muromyets into her life, an eight hundred year old man who is seeking death, but is always brought back to life by the Rusalka, beings from another dimension. Ilya was hired to find the sphere and bring it to the men who want it but once he meets Elena his plans change because the Rusalka are after her and he cares enough about her to want to keep her alive. In time, they learn that the sphere is a gateway to alternate Russia, one where dreams become reality and creatures of myth roam the forests. Many people are searching for this device and if they find them, they will kill Ilya and Elena and permanently seal the breaks between the worlds.
Liz Williams is one of the bright new stars in the science fiction galaxy and one of her strengths is she never writes the same book twice. NINE LAYERS OF SKY is an action thriller with elements of fantasy and alternate history added to create an urban noir science fiction work that is fascinating to read. This work has cross-genre appeal and will add more readers to the author's growing fan base.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner