Reviewed by Jay Eales
I’m not what you would call well-travelled, having been abroad precisely six times in forty-something years. That’s one of the reasons why I value the works of writers like Liz Williams. In these nineteen tales is a veritable gazetteer of lands (and indeed worlds) beyond my ken. With stories set in the worlds of her novels the Winterstrike and Detective Inspector Chen series, there’s plenty for the devoted Williams fan, and many more for the newcomers. I get to experience exotic locales such asVenice,SingaporeThree,Kazakhstan and the icy wilderness of Mars from the comfort of my sofa. No jacket or compass required.
Williams is adept at blending the everyday with the otherworldly, ably demonstrated in stories such as ‘The Water Cure’ and ‘Indicating the Awakening of Persons Buried Alive’. In ‘All Fish and Dracula’, Williams captures the flavour of a place that I have visited: Whitby, filled with jet jewellery, Goths and gollywogs. LikeGlastonbury, where the author calls home,Whitbyis a mystical focal point, torn between loving and hating the tourist trade that keeps their hearts pumping.
In ‘Who Pays’, we see a futuristic extrapolation of some of our older world myths without evoking the spirit of Stargate. Eastern asceticism infuses the otherwise alien landscape of ‘Ikyryoh’, possibly my favourite of the collection today. Ask me tomorrow, and I may pick another, as Williams has spoilt me for choice.