Our next book club book will be The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling! Colleen and I had the tremendous pleasure of reading this book in July of 2020, followed by the slightly-less-great-pleasure of a socially distanced discussion on a spotty Zoom connection. (Sometimes making book club work requires some suffering.)
The Luminous Dead is a delightfully claustrophobic novel, limited to just two characters and one setting. Typically, I would fear such a set-up becoming stagnant and repetitive—but Starling uses revelations of information and progressive shifts in the dynamic between her two main characters to keep things fresh. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for an example of sci-fi horror or if you want something I’d describe as “sci-fi lite.”
Discussion questions will post on June 16th!
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.
Instead, she got Em.
Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .
As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.
But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?
Highlight white text for content warnings: gaslighting, assault, death or dying, mental illness, bathophobia (fear of depths), claustrophobia
For those of you looking for hosting ideas, here are some easy snacks and beverages you and your book club compatriots can enjoy while discussing The Luminous Dead. And for those of you who are looking for something more beyond the book itself, here are some books and other media which either tie into Starling’s novel or expand upon its themes and content.Continue reading