Pilgrims 2.0: A Novel (Paperback)
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A novel following four passengers on a luxury cruise line that promises complete reinvention through plastic surgery.
PILGRIM, Canterbury Cruise Line’s flagship, promises its passengers not just a luxurious fortnight away but the opportunity for reinvention. This extraordinary journey is made possible by the captain and visionary plastic surgeon Dr. Walter Heston, by the vessel’s self-learning artificial intelligence called BECCA, and an all-male crew of room stewards, deck hands, technicians, and cosmetic practitioners.
Pilgrims 2.0 begins on the eve of Cruise #52 and follows four women eager for transformation. Meet Bianca, the aging athlete determined to resume the competitive tennis career that motherhood sidelined. Meet Nicole, whose mommy makeover will mean she can stop hiding herself, and her debt, from her husband. Meet Lyla, an infertile maternity-ward nurse desperate to experience pregnancy, and Annalie, who wants only to stop seeing her dead twin every time she looks in the mirror. At the center of the story is Dr. Heston himself, driven to do with bodies what his late wife, Rebecca, could do with computer code—make the impossible, possible.
But “excursions” like these aren’t always smooth sailing—especially on this voyage, where the hopes, histories, and obsessions of clients and crew members collide. When a disruptive crewman’s pranks turn dangerous, it becomes clear that some of those who embarked won’t return to the Port of Los Angeles—at least not fully, at least not as themselves, and maybe not with their lives.
About the Author
Lindsey Harding directs the Writing Intensive Program at the University of Georgia. Her recent flash fiction and stories have appeared in Lost Balloon, CRAFT, apt, Spry Literary Journal, and Prick of the Spindle. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and four children.
"Pilgrims 2.0 is satirically sharp, propulsive, and wickedly entertaining. In her marvelous debut, Lindsey Harding expertly manages a large cast of characters and dazzles with her powers of invention."
— Chris Bachelder
"Harding’s debut novel sets an unsettling mood from the start, with short chapters that propel the story along. The inclusion of multiple characters’ perspectives—from passengers to crewmen to doctors to the AI system itself—gives a full picture of good intentions, deep sadness, and even some less-than-noble motives. Book clubs may find much to discuss about the nature of our relationships with ourselves and others and the dissonance between improved physical appearance and contentment."
"In her genre-bending debut novel Pilgrims 2.0, Lindsey Harding traverses the sensitive topic with the confident, observant voice of a seasoned pro. . . Harding is a fresh voice well worth our attention."
— Chicago Review of Books
"This delightfully unhinged speculative work lays out a myriad of character traumas and cultural issues without ever feeling like a sermon. . . A cutting and satirical romp that brings both laughter and moments of real poignancy to the proverbial surgery table."
— Shelf Awareness