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Literature / Passage

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Passage is a 2002 novel by Connie Willis.

Joanna Lander is a psychologist studying what people experience when they have near death experiences and becomes frustrated when many show signs of giving inaccurate information (especially after having talked to Dr. Maurice Mandrake, whose methods are less scientific than Joanna's).

Then Dr. Richard Wright contacts her and tells her he has found a drug that can simulate an NDE and invites her to interview the patients after they take the drug. After finding there aren't enough volunteers, however, Joanna decides to give herself the drug...but when she does, she finds the experience much different than she imagines. She finds herself on what seems to be the RMS Titanic.

Unrelated to the 2007 freeware game of the same name. It is also unrelated to The Passage, a 2010 book by Justin Cronin, or to film The Passage, a 1979 adaptation of Perilous Passage novel.

Tropes present in this work:

  • Anyone Can Die: Even the main character.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Joanna dies, but Maisie Nellis is able to survive a heart transplant thanks to her research.
  • Doorstopper: 800 pages.
  • Dying Dream: Joanna's perspective in the last quarter of the book, though there's some YMMV: it's possible to read the last chapter as a hint of Joanna entering some kind of afterlife.
  • Hospital Hottie: Richard Wright, definitely. Multiple women comment on how cute he is.