Passage is a science fiction novel by Connie Willis, published in 2001. The novel won the Locus Award for Best Novel in 2002, was shortlisted for the Nebula Award in 2001, and received nominations for the Hugo, Campbell, and Clarke Awards in 2002.
Passage follows the efforts of Joanna Lander, a research psychologist, to understand the phenomenon of near-death experiences(or NDEs) by interviewing hospital patients after they are revived following clinical death. Her work with Dr. Richard Wright, a neurologist who has discovered a way to chemically induce an artificial NDE and conduct an “RIPT” brain scan during the experience, leads her to the discovery of the biological purpose of NDEs. Science fiction scholar Gary K. Wolfe writes, “Willis tries something truly astonishing: without resorting to supernaturalism on the one hand or clinical reportage on the other, without forgoing her central metaphor, she seeks to lift the veil on what actually happens inside a dying mind.” Through Lander’s work, Dr. Wright is able to develop a medicine that brings patients back from clinical death.
The novel contains enlightening discussions of various disasters, including the RMS Titanic, the Hartford circus fire, the Hindenburg disaster, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, the Boston Molasses Disaster, and, almost as prominently as the Titanic, the sinking of theUSS Yorktown. (Willis has written extensively in several novels about events in World War II.)