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Nine Layers of Sky (2003)

af Liz Williams

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216392,094 (3.45)3
In such novels asThe Poison MasterandEmpire of Bones, Liz Williams sparked readers’ imaginations by creating worlds at once strange and familiar. Now this bold new writer delivers a profound and provocative look at human nature in a timely novel of a nation--and a world--torn asunder, and of a hope that refuses to die. Nine Layers of Sky A former Soviet rocket scientist, Elena Irinovna now cleans office buildings--until she crosses paths with Ilya Muromyets. A remnant of Russia’s glorious and fabled past, Ilya is an eight-hundred-year-old hero turned heroin addict, dreaming of a death that never comes. They are brought together by a strange artifact Elena has found, which offers a glimpse into another dimension, creating a dangerous breach in a world Elena only thought she knew... Ilya is no stranger to the unexplained. He’s been hired by a mysterious organization to track down the artifact. But nothing prepares him for what it offers--or for a woman like Elena. Fighting their own inner demons as well as those from across the breach, Ilya and Elena embark on a harrowing trip between nations and worlds. And for the first time the man of myth and the woman of science discover that they have a dream to defend--and even die for...… (mere)

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I tend to really like Liz Williams' writing, and this is no exception. The plotting and the characters are wonderfully well-done, and the world is fascinating- it's a sort of multiverse but based on Russian (mostly) antecedents.

I have to give an especial amount of praise to the pacing- it was just perfect, and involved the plotting and characterizations wonderfully well.

As is often the case with Williams' novels- I have never before read anything quite like them. I love that! I've been a passionate reader for at least 45 years now, and it's such a joy to read something for which I cannot cite ALL the influences, because it's unique.

I'd say this is urban fantasy, but not the kind with vamps and weres. It's got it's own take on the "supernatural", and a well-thought-out and fascinating take it is.

Recommended for sf/f fans; it sort of bridges the space between science fiction and fantasy. ( )
  cissa | Apr 24, 2014 |
Having been recommended Liz Williams books because I was interested in both science fiction and philosophy, I had already read Empire of Bones and felt that I never quite 'got' that book. Nine Layers of Sky I enjoyed much more, I thought the whole premise was very exciting and enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on until it was revealed, and I liked the characters of both Elena and Ilya, although felt there was more to explore with Ilya. The descriptions were great and it didn't matter that I wasn't that familiar with central asia before reading this. The ending did feel a little rushed. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys scifi with a twist. ( )
  purplepixie | Jun 12, 2008 |
I continue to waver over Liz Williams. Following on my optimism over her writing from her last book, Nine Layers of Sky has left me feeling fairly non-plussed by it again.
In a near future, Elena Irinovna, once a Russian rocket scientist, now an impoverished office cleaner yearning for a Soviet past that is long gone, and dreaming of escape to a better life in Canada, comes into possession of a mysterious object. The object, which bridges from our reality to a world besides ours, where in the past Soviets have escaped and created a parallel utopian Soviet state, is sought after by many people, sticking Elena in danger. One of the people after it is Ilya Muromyets, an ancient but still young Russian folk hero, eking out his own meagre existence, forgotten by the people who once idolised him, hooked on heroin.
The book has some strong points – Williams certainly seems to know Central Asia well, and goes a decent way to getting over just how alien different societies on Earth can seem to us without having to go to a different planet; and the thematic element of failed dreams resonates nicely on several levels at least some of the time. However, the strong points are definitely in the minority. The central plot is dull, and Williams meanders her way around it and yet again fails to reach any sort of definitive conclusion; she only seems to be able to write one ending to stories, which is a serious flaw. The unfolding love story between Elena and Ilya is weak, as is Williams’ tendency to bang the drum a bit too much to flag up An Important Thematic Moment.
I’m starting to think that I’m definitely not the ideal audience for Williams’ books. It’s a shame, as she has some good ideas, and some writing that is genuinely exciting, but too much of it is getting swamped by the pedestrian and the tedious. ( )
  MikeFarquhar | May 27, 2007 |
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In such novels asThe Poison MasterandEmpire of Bones, Liz Williams sparked readers’ imaginations by creating worlds at once strange and familiar. Now this bold new writer delivers a profound and provocative look at human nature in a timely novel of a nation--and a world--torn asunder, and of a hope that refuses to die. Nine Layers of Sky A former Soviet rocket scientist, Elena Irinovna now cleans office buildings--until she crosses paths with Ilya Muromyets. A remnant of Russia’s glorious and fabled past, Ilya is an eight-hundred-year-old hero turned heroin addict, dreaming of a death that never comes. They are brought together by a strange artifact Elena has found, which offers a glimpse into another dimension, creating a dangerous breach in a world Elena only thought she knew... Ilya is no stranger to the unexplained. He’s been hired by a mysterious organization to track down the artifact. But nothing prepares him for what it offers--or for a woman like Elena. Fighting their own inner demons as well as those from across the breach, Ilya and Elena embark on a harrowing trip between nations and worlds. And for the first time the man of myth and the woman of science discover that they have a dream to defend--and even die for...

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