NINE LAYERS OF SKY

Liz Williams, Author . Bantam Spectra $5.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-553-58499-8

A scientist and a mythological hero who is alive and well in the 21st century find new love and help alter two worlds in this character-driven, romantic sci-fi adventure. Elena, who was once in the Soviet space program and is now a janitor, lives in fallen Russia, a country that "runs on... dreams and air." She herself dreams of the future and of being an astrophysicist. In contrast, Ilya, an 800-year-old fallen hero, dreams only of the past and of heroin and death. The two are brought together by a strange object that, unbeknownst to them, operates a gateway to a world shaped by Russian dreams. Creatures from that realm track Elena and Ilya, who's experiencing withdrawal for much of the book, through the satellite states of Russia as they try to discern the nature of the artifact is and find their place in the world. The story's tone is appropriately dreamlike as hero and heroine calmly evade pursuers they aren't sure are following and just as quietly fall in love. The book's primary attraction lies in its portrayal of Russia's multifaceted soul. Williams (The Poison Master) does a wonderful job of describing the character of a place through the people who inhabit it and through the manifestations of their dreams. A difficult book to describe, this work will nonetheless satisfy readers with its rich settings and mythological power. (Sept. 2)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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