Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spotlight On: Aria: Left Luggage By Geoff Nelder

Title: Aria:  Left Luggage
Author:  Geoff  Nelder
Publisher:   LL Publications
Length:   305 pages
Sub-Genres:  Sci-Fi, Aleins
ARIA: Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder contains a shattering original premise. The concept of memory is examined as the part it plays in making us who we are. From space is brought a suitcase-size object that fundamentally affects memory with infectious amnesia. A few escape its invidious consequences and attempt to secure a future. Dangerous, yet sometimes humorous action takes us from orbit in the International Space Station to an apparent sanctuary in a remote valley in Wales. Frantic desperation in a US town rips at our sensitivities, but relief for a man when he finds his own refuge in Canada. In spite of or because of the danger, lustful romances drive the main characters as much as survival threatens their existence.
“Geoff Nelder's Left Luggage has the right stuff. He makes us ask the most important question in science fiction--the one about the true limits of personal responsibility”. - Brad Linaweaver.
Jon Courtenay Grimwood  - “Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.”
“ARIA has an intriguing premise, and is written in a very accessible style.” – Mike Resnick.
Wednesday 15 April 2015. Outside Dryden Space Laboratories, Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The desert heat penetrated Jack’s shirt, giving him a familiar unpleasant wet trickle down his back. Sunlight lasered through holes in the bus shelter’s roof, making him shuffle.
Climbing into the homeward-bound bus he helloed Greta, the driver, then winked at familiar travellers.
An unseasonable heat wave made the PVC seat sticky. At least the journey was short. The bus’s climate-control had failed so he had to share lungfuls of sweaty air.
Jack thought of his secret. None of the other passengers had handled an alien artefact today. The first in the world and yet, darn it, he wasn’t allowed to holler ‘it was me!’ at anyone.
Gazing out of the vibrating window at the passing ochre desert, he caught a childhood aroma, one that he’d thought he’d forgotten - butterscotch.
Jack massaged his forehead. Strange, he only grew fuzzy heads like this with hangovers but he’d not swallowed beer for days. It had to be dehydration.
The desert town of Rosamund slid into view so Jack queued, straphanging, in the swaying aisle.
A few seats back, he caught Ken’s eye.“Hey Jack, did something special happen at work to you today?”
A few passengers nearby looked up at Jack.
He distracted himself by looking through the windows at the white-walled tract houses decelerating by. He and his colleagues were not allowed to speak of work at the space lab, but that wasn’t it. He gazed up at the rectangle of blue sky in the roof. He couldn’t remember what he’d had for breakfast let alone the morning’s work schedule.
Ken persisted. “You okay, Jack?”
Hot though he was, Jack’s face heated more. A special day. He’d done something unique – a first, but darn it, he couldn’t remember what it was. His knees gave way and he flopped into a seat. His head buzzed so loudly it must have annoyed the other passengers. He remembered catching the bus to Edwards, but was that yesterday?
He muttered to himself. “Don’t be stupid. Come on, man, what was in today’s newspaper?” Damn, he was losing his memory… or his mind.
Then he caught a whiff of talcum powder and gardenia. His grandma used to reek of it. Smells alluded him these days. Something was messing with his brain.
Through wet eyes he noticed Greta looking back down the aisle at him. “Jack, your stop, buddy.”
He hadn’t noticed the usual lurched halt. He staggered up and patted Greta’s arm. Then he looked back at her as she rubbed her head. Other passengers rubbed theirs.
As he dismounted, he spotted a newspaper billboard announcing ‘Wednesday lottery results’. Hey, he thought it was Tuesday. Was amnesia his problem? Maybe it could explain why he couldn’t remember the morning’s events.
The heat from the sidewalk baked his feet through cheap shoes as the bus grumbled away. He gazed after the bus disappearing in its own dust cloud, and he thought of the bus driver, what’s-her-name.
Her face had looked sallow, green. Maybe he’d picked up a bug and infected her too. If her then maybe all her passengers would get it, and new passengers and their kinfolk. That’s one hell of a messed up world.
Interesting facts about ARIA: Left Luggage
1.       Infectious amnesia is an original concept in that it is an unknown medical condition and has not been used before in novels or films.
2.       Research help and support was emailed to Geoff from space! Astronaut Leroy Chiao answered Geoff’s questions about the nature of the struts on the International Space Station, and in 2012 wished him luck with the book.
3.       All the places on Earth used in the book are real geographical locations, including the ‘hidden’ valley – Anafon – in North Wales.
4.       The cover art is designed by award-winning artist, Andy Bigwood.
5.       The idea of infectious amnesia came to Geoff while he was riding a bicycle up a steep Welsh hill.
Publisher’s website with more details and formats.
Geoff Nelder has a wife, two grown-up kids, an increasing number of grandkids, and lives in rural England within an easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains. He taught Geography and Information Technology for years until writing took over his life. Geoff is a competition short-fiction judge, and a freelance editor.
Publications include several non-fiction books on climate reflecting his other persona as a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society; over 50 published short stories in various magazines and anthologies; thriller, humour, science fiction, and fantasy novels.
2005: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality. Republished 2012.
2008: Award-winning science fiction mystery with hot-blooded heroine, Exit, Pursued by a Bee.
2010: Another thriller received an Award d’Or from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands. Its third edition will be published in 2012, Hot Air.
2012: ARIA: Left Luggage science fiction apocalypse.
An urban and historical magic realism fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, is in the hands of a literary agency.
Geoff Nelder

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