The Horror Zine Review
ARIA: Left Luggage
by Geoff Nelder
|Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Logical-Lust (August 1, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
ARIA: Left Luggage
by Geoff Nelder
Review by Dr. Kevin Hillman
It’s no spoiler to reveal that ARIA is an acronym for ‘Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia’ because the back cover of the book reveals this. The opening pages are very effective in showing how this infection works. A man gets on a bus and greets the driver by name. By the time he gets off he doesn’t even recognise that driver. All in a one and a half page prologue. It happens so naturally, so smoothly, this deletion of memories, that you simply have to continue reading. For me, it was a very effective hook.
This is an alien attack on Earth of a kind nobody has seen before. There are no tripods blasting death rays, no flying saucers scooping up hapless victims. All that arrives is a suitcase. That’s all. One harmless-looking suitcase.
It doesn’t explode. No hordes of tiny aliens emerge from it. In fact, the contents appear completely harmless. Until people start to forget. They can’t fight what’s come from the case if they don’t even remember the case exists, and the forgetfulness is extremely contagious.
Not everyone is affected. Some manage to isolate themselves and remain free of the disease. A few pockets of survivors communicate using what remains of the internet and satellites, and wonder if there can ever be a cure while their world falls apart. Then another case arrives...
This isn’t an end-of-the-world story. The world doesn’t end. The aliens kill nobody—although you could argue that when people regress to the point where they can no longer feed themselves, then they will die anyway. It’s a complex story with many well-defined protagonists in small groups scattered all over the planet, and one group above it.
The author handles the many characters with ease and makes every one of them distinct and real. The story clips along at a good pace, the gradual dissolution of humanity is terrifying in its credibility and the effects of the second case add a whole new layer to the mysterious aliens.
The book is complete in itself but is only half the story. It continues in a second book ARIA: Returning Left Luggage and, having read the first, I will certainly be getting the second.
It’s really sci-fi, but the quiet assassination of the minds of almost the entire population of the world surely gives it the right to cross into the horror genre. There’s no silver-suited alien to fight here. The enemy is silent, invisible and everywhere. You can’t fight what you can’t remember exists.
I found ‘ARIA: Left Luggage’ to be an engrossing and entertaining story with its blend of science fiction and an invisible, unbeatable horror. Definitely worth a read.
You can buy the book HERE
About the author
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, humor, science fiction, and fantasy novels.
His published works include:
2005: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality. Republished 2012.
About the reviewer
Dr. Kevin Hillman
Dr. Kevin Hillman is a rogue scientist and writer who normally appears online as anyone but himself. His multiple personalities include the sensible and restrained Gutbugs and the sensible but volatile Romulus Crowe, as well as the militant Leg-iron and the utterly deranged Phineas Dume. That last incarnation wrote articles for the greatly missed AlienSkin magazine and takes the credit for most of the stories.
Kevin's short stories have appeared in From The Asylum, AlienSkin, and other online venues. His novel Jessica's Trap has been released by Damnation Books. Fame beckons, although fortune remains sadly elusive.
Dr. Dume was once under the control of the AlienSkin mother, but now he is loose upon the world. You can visit Dr. Dume HERE.