Bantam, April 2002, 5.99, 336 pp.
In 2030 India, Hindu Fundamentalists take control of the government and reinstate the caste system. Riots erupt as the Untouchables try to reverse the political and social systems, but their caste and only their caste, are struck down by a deadly plague. This disease gives credence to the belief that the Untouchables are beneath the notice of the other, higher castes.
Jaya Nihalani, an Untouchable, has fought against the government for much of her life and is regarded as a terrorist. When a mutated form of the plague strikes she is turned into a Receiver, able to communicate with a ship manned by those who seeded our planet millennium ago. Now Earth has evolved enough to be absorbed into the Rasatran Empire and Jaya must make sure that the assimilation goes well or Earth will be destroyed.
EMPIRE OF BONES is a fast-paced science fiction thriller that shows what could happen when First Contact occurs. The homeworld of Rasatra's politics, culture and social structure is crafted in such intricate detail it feels as if Liz Williams is a native social anthropologist. Yet the talented writer never slows down the action while providing characters, both human and alien, that are believable and understandable inside the strong plot. All this makes for a great novel and easy conversion into an excellent movie.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner