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Philip K. Dick Award: Best Novel nominee (2002).
From Liz Williams comes a bold and provocative novel of the future in which the vast Indian subcontinent, home to thousands of gods, is visited by all-powerful alien beings from a distant world of controlled, sterile perfection. But what is their purpose: to free humanity – or to enslave it?
EMPIRE OF BONES
Millions of years ago alien beings seeded Earth with their genetic strands to create a new outpost of intelligent life. Now their descendants have returned to Earth's skies, drawn by their detection of a Receiver, a human with the genetic ability to tap into alien communications. It is the signal that Earth is ready to be absorbed into a vast galactic empire.
Jaya Nihalani has been a prophet, a crusader, and a terrorist, fighting for the rights of her despised Untouchable caste. Now she lies in an Indian hospital, dying of a hideous disease. Her head is filled with voices and visions; her body is aging rapidly, inexplicably. But the voices and visions are no disease. Jaya is the Receiver whom the aliens intend to heal, enlighten... and use.
Soon the subcontinent erupts in riots and chaos as powerful forces attempt to co-opt the enigmatic alien emissaries, and a shocked world awaits its fate. Jaya must somehow discover the plans of her perfect and powerful "friends." Have they come to end human suffering, or to make it worse? Should she help them – or lead the impossible fight against them?