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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2001 by Connie Willis

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 6th April 2002.

Dr. Joanna Lander is a cognitive psychologist at Mercy Gernal Hospital. She's investigating Near Death Experiences (NDEs) trying to find the causes of the commonly described lighted-tunnel and other experiences associated with the return from Death's door. For Joanna, it's scientific research - she doesn't imagine NDEs are real indicators of any afterlife and believes them to be simply physiological consequences of the body's trauma. It's not always easy to get a clear description from her subjects who are, after all, hospital patients and, by definition, near death. Furthermore the patients interpret such experiences according to their own outlooks. However the Joanna's difficulties are compounded because her competitor, Maurice Mandrake, is chasing the same patients to include in his latest best-selling book on the subject.

But she's beginning to get some clues to the commonality of experiences, and working with Dr Richard Wright she's also starting to get a clearer understanding of the physiological effects that lead to the NDEs.

Of course, she still has no idea what NDEs really are. She'll find out soon and it will change her life forever.

Wow what a rush! "Flatliners" for thinking people. It's awesome writing. Connie Willis excels at describing manic and disordered environments.

The novel is a frenzied, frantic search for truth and you're riding right there along with Joanna as she tries desperately to understand near-death experiences. You feel increasing discomfort as Joanna becomes more obsessed with her search and you cross your fingers hoping that she's going to come through this OK. I didn't just have my fingers crossed, I was shouting at her "Stop! Don't go there! Take a break, think about what you're doing!" but it didn't help at all, the plot just careered along exactly as Willis planned.

The only problem is that it isn't SF, it's not even marketed as SF. But it's too late to pull this review now, it's going live.

Loaded on the 2nd June 2002.
Cover of Passage
Cover art by Royce M. Becker

Reviews of other works by Connie Willis:
Lincoln's Dreams
Doomsday Book
All Clear

Reviews of other works by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice:
Light Raid