The superb Liz Williams has another winner with her dreamy, impressionistic, but exciting "Banner of Souls." Set in a far future where Earth is mostly water and Mars is where the action is (the worlds are connected by a never fully explained piece of tech called "the Chain"), the tale revolves around Lunae, a young girl who can shift time; the Martian warrior "Dreams of War" (equipped with semi-sentient armor), who is sent to Earth as her protector; and, from "Nightshade," at the edge of the Solar System, comes Yskatarina Iye (equipped with a vast supply of prosthetic limbs along with her arachnid-like animus--ironically, pretty much all that's left of the male half of the human species). She is sent to Earth to remove Lunae from the scene.
The baroque characters are amazingly well drawn (even the minor ones) as they bash about, none quite knowing exactly what's going on (with the possible exception of Yskatarina), among creatures real and not real, alive and dead, human and mechanical.
In a previous book the author has acknowledged the influence of Jack Vance, and that influence certainly appears in this tale, too, with its vivid portrayals of strange worlds, strange creatures, and dry dialog. But this isn't a tribute by any means. It's a fine piece of work in its own right.
There's a banner on the front cover in which readers are advised that Liz Williams is "an author to watch." Just so. More important, she is an author to read. And read again.