Tunnel Vision

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday June 2, 2011

Boston-based author Gary braver has tackled eternal youth and its discontents in "Elixir," IQ-boosting weird science in "Gray Matter," the darker side of Alzheimer's research in "Flashback," and the beastly impulses the lay beneath an urge to gain, maintain, and behold beauty in "Skin Deep."

And now he pulls out the big guns: With "Tunnel Vision," Braver peeks behind the veil that separates this mortal coil from the great beyond. The vision he brings back is chilling--and provocative.

As usual, Braver stocks his novel with Bostonians of Armenian descent. Grad student Zack Kashian is a young man with problems--he's broke, addicted to gambling, and, after a crash on his bicycle, left in a coma. When footage of Zack, unconscious and yet speaking in tongues, leaks onto the Internet, the young man becomes a beacon of hope to the faithful and the afflicted. The only problem is that Zack himself is an atheist, and when he awakes from his coma he's appalled to discover that he's now regarded as a living miracle.

But Zack's murmurings haven't just caught the ears of true believers. He's also come to the attention of professional skeptics--a team of scientists using the very latest in technology to investigate the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs) in order to determine whether the lore surrounding such experiences (flying through a tunnel, a white light, a comforting presence, glimpses of loved ones who have died) point to an afterlife, or whether they are the result of the dying brain's final frenzy of electrical activity.

When the scientists recruit Zack to be a research subject, the bait is large payments that can help him pay off his debts--but the true cost may be higher than the young man is willing to pay, when he starts having visions of murders. Is Zack tapping into the thoughts of a killer? Is he discovering memories of his own forgotten deeds? Or could a supernatural entity be exploiting his forays to the Other Side by possessing his body and wreaking bloody violence?

Braver keeps you guessing throughout this ingenious thriller, pulling off his most frightening excursion yet into the dark recesses of biomedical horror. This is summer reading at its best--guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine no matter how hot the weather.

Publisher: Tor Forge. Publication Date: June 21, 2011. Pages: 384. Price: $25.99. Format: Hardcover Original. ISBN: 978-0-765-309-761

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.