Enjoying a breakdown – Primordial

July 30, 2014

Primordial An Abstraction by D. Harlan Wilson
Anti-Oedipus Press • September 2014
Paperback: 167 pages • 5×8 • $13.95 • ISBN 978-0-9892391-5-8
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

D.Harlan Wilson - Primordial

D.Harlan Wilson – Primordial

Reviewed by Geoff Nelder

I was tempted to write this review in the style and sense of the novel’s narrative but I tried that with Zombie Acopalypse! Fightback created by Stephen Jones for which I became the unholy revenant. I wrote it as one of the zombies featured in the anthology, full of bile with a hunger for the blood of its author. My cool review bombed. This one is different.
Primordial is a bizarre campus novel in which a professor has his doctorate revoked and he returns as a student to regain it. Others are in a similar situation. He fights to understand the rationality behind it even though it’s probably a scam. In some ways it is more a stream of nightmarish consciousness than a novel. The plot is almost irrelevant although not the university setting. Characterization is so strong it hurts. The prof is mostly acerbic, especially in his relationships with fellow students and his lecturers but his rollercoastering sanity is a joy to witness.
Putting it in the kind of terms the author uses, the main character is in an existential crisis although if that means one is compelled to make love with one’s eschatological professor – the one with a swell bust – in every bathroom in campus then the crisis could be worse.
In keeping with the subject of his thesis: the violence of rhetoric, much of the narrative shocks in a compelling way. Truisms shock too – eg ‘Most of adult life is spent discovering the mystery of how very little you matter.’ Most of mine is spent in denial of that but I have to bend to its truth. The words the author chooses (very carefully, which makes a refreshing change from most novels thrown my way) deserve revisiting with an eye for another interpretation. It could be that my reaction is wrong but as with all novels once it is published it no longer belongs to the author, but the reader. Hence, take this sentence: ‘The academic ideological apparatus interpellates all of us.’ I have cartographical and mathematical training so my brain initially read that as interpolates all of us. Hah. I like that concept of the bureaucracy taking us not for what we are but as a statistical average, fitting us in between fixed points of reference, like contours being estimated on a map between the few known spot heights. However, Wilson doesn’t actually say that because the rarer word interpellate is about making a point of order in the business of government – or similar. This might be one of those instances where the author has no objection to the reader making up their own interpretation.
As an editor of thousands of short stories and dozens of novels, one aspect of pleonastic writing I am compelled to correct is echoing. Not just a repeated word word by slippage of hand but when a phrase is used twice in a paragraph. It’s an amateur-alert red flag to an editor when used twice in a paragraph. However, it can be a masterstroke when crafted by an expert. Consider when our ex-professor is road-raged on page 90: ‘I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat. I hit the truck again with the bat.’ Brilliant.
He is wallowing in the repetition and it reinforces our mental image so much more than saying he hit the truck with the bat 16 times. As the prof says much later in the novel, ‘repetition is just as good as karma.’ We could quote himself back with ‘That’s not altogether true. Nothing ever is.’ There are many such self-referential pieces and another is, ‘Something happens here.’ In fact that is a whole chapter – number 66. I echo – Something happens here. He could have said, ‘Nothing happens here.’ However, that wouldn’t be true unless the page was blank like page 164, but the words 66 for the chapter heading is already on p132 so it cannot be nothing, hence ‘Something happens here.’ Of course it is a link, too from the previous to the next chapter. I love this book.
I’ve read and reviewed other D. Harlan Wilson works, Codename Prague, and They had Goat Heads. All enjoyable, but this I’ve savoured the most. It took longer than any other short novel to read because of that savouring. There are few book extracts I read out loud to my wife, but I did from this book. Not that she listened. This book will remain in my thoughts for ever, or as the unnamed prof says, ‘Once you engage a singularity you are doomed to fondle the ticklish parts of its shadow for eternity.’
This is one of those rare novels you can treat like a poetry book and take off the shelf for a random dip when you need your complacency stirred. Completely recommended for all aficionados of the bizarro genre or if you are willing to have your brain tickled.

Nelder Notes:

I’m utterly proud to announce the release of the final and third book in my ARIA TRILOGY

ARIA is the thrilling, award-winning, scifi medical mystery and apocalyptic drama that everybody should be talking about and would be if they hadn’t forgotten it through the infectious amnesia at its heart.

All formats.

http://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Abandoned-Luggage-Three-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00LMNE9JW/

And for UK readers http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Abandoned-Luggage-Three-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00LMNE9JW/

So many of you have asked when the final book is out and here it is. Enjoy.

http://www.ll-publications.com/aria3.html

In case you are inspired to read the first book in the trilogy, the price of the ebook has been slashed to less than the price of a coffee as you’ll see on these pages: #kindle now http://amzn.to/1daTUUn UK – http://amzn.to/1gn3iHI

Highlights:

  1. ARIA is the first and so far only book to use the concept of infectious amnesia.
  2. Although character-led, the novel has breakthrough plot threads, making us think of what is the most important and crucial aspects of our lives. Research help and support was emailed from space! Astronaut Leroy Chiao answered my questions about the nature of the struts on the International Space Station, and wished me 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 while I was riding a bicycle up a steep Welsh hill.

You tube video trailer http://youtu.be/oh0AAXIe8VU

Facebook page for you to ‘like’ if you will http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy

A typical review of book one:

http://www.brewingpassion.com/2014/06/across-beer-bar-withumi-forgot.html

A wikia page about me and the ARIA Trilogy is http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

Peepshow tour of authors

July 25, 2014

through_the_key_hole_by_jesidangerouslyWith Catherine Edmunds and Mark Iles but as with theirs this is a kind of peepshow into how I spend my day when I’m not being rushed to hospital or wrestling grandchildren.

The ding of my inbox disrupted a well-deserved snooze. It was that mistress of the arts, Cathy Edmunds, with an invitation, a beseeching, to engage with her in a blog tour. Does she think I have nothing better to do? She’s right. I am a link. I will be strong.
Cathy’s blog is at http://catherineedmunds.blogspot.co.uk/ do visit it, leave comments, buy her books. The next in the link after me is Mark Iles. Like me he writes science fiction but quite unlike my style. Just this week the characters in the first book in my ARIA: Left Luggage were accused of being too funny for such a horrific situation. The reviewer had not heard of graveyard humour or those situations where we use humour to overcome adversity. I don’t believe I overdo the humour. Indeed other reviewers say that infectious amnesia is more terrifying than zombies and vampires. You can’t win them all.
I am reminded of a quote by Isaac Asimov about his reactions to thoughtless reviewers: “From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.”

If you enjoy military science fiction you’ll definitely enjoy Mark Iles work and his blog is at http://markiles.co.uk/the-blog

Cathy Edmunds tells me all I have to do now is be a well-behaved pupil and answer the following four questions
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does my writing process go?

1. What am I working on?
Mostly kid’s stuff. Why? Because my infant grandchildren have heard that I’m an author and have asked to know about my books. Well, you know they have too many naughty bits so I’ve been busy writing new books. Three in the last month, all in the Scoot and Red series where Scoot is a 5-year-old boy and Red is his dog. The Blue Ball, String Theory and Time Travel have been drafted, roughly illustrated and tested on Oliver, my grandson in Manchester. Then I go home and make edits before testing them on my granddaughters in Nottingham. In many ways it is like doing a reading from my novel to a literary gathering. There I was reading Time Travel with Scoot, Red and Penny when I’m rudely interrupted by the cook, who brandishes a pan under my nose and says, “Are these enough spuds for mashing?” My grandson tuts, but then asks me to start again. Yeah.
I’ve also been writing shorts for the Chester Library Fantasy Writing Group. The August topic is to write a fantasy with at least one scene under water. I’ve been waiting to make time to write this story for a few years. A colleague of my wife sailed his catamaran from Anglesey to the Isle of Man one night and hit an object floating just under the surface. It was a large container that had fallen off a cargo ship. Usually they sink but this one hadn’t. My imagination went berserk. Suppose it was full of people being smuggled? Dead or alive? Spooky and ripe for telling. On a holiday, I asked a member of the Manx Coastguard what they’d do if a semi-submerged container was reported to them. “Nowt lad, unless it was reported as still not sank 24 hours later in which case we’d go out and put some holes in it.” How unimaginative. My story is called “Voyage of the Silents” and it’s set in the warmer Mediterranean and is a short sequel to my Hot Air thriller – see blog post.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
There are too many answers to this awful question. a) I don’t know because I don’t read enough of others in the various genre I write in; b) of those I read and admire I slip into, stylewise, and so risk not being different, except in an inferior way – probably. Eg for my thrillers I admire the humour of Tibor Fischer, the bizarreness of D Harlan Wilson and Ira Nayman, and the clever plotting of Michael Dibdin. For my science fiction I am probably more on my own, swimming or sinking in my own style of surviving an apocalyptic event. I admire but am not as black as for instance The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
3. Why Do I Write What I Do?
Who devised these hard questions? The answer for me is historical. As a pupil my teachers danced hysterically when I inserted adverbs and adjectives such as gnarled even though with contemporary fiction we rarely use them. My dad made me laugh and when I repeated his jokes at school, pupils and teachers chuckled. I found I could write jokes and wrote them for school review shows then when I left to go to Sheffield University I became one of the editors of the rag mag. Shamefully, I find many of my awful jokes still in existence. In spite of such shame I can’t help putting humour into even the most dire situations my characters find themselves in. I write science fiction because the world is too restricting for my wayward imagination. I write fantasy to escape reality and to explore alternative therapies to humdrumness.
4. How does my writing process go?
I didn’t think I possessed a pattern to my writing. When I held down a day job (teaching) I would rise early, bash out some words, save them to floppy disk (haha), print them at work and if the opportunity arose I’d edit the pages with the red pen I marked the kid’s work. Sometimes I cycled the long way home via a café, say in Farndon, have a cup of tea while editing. In the evening I’d have little time for writing because of marking and preparing school work until midnight. Once I became too deaf to control a class and was sent packing with an early-pension (yeay) I’d take on paid editing work, but it was easier as my own boss, to write when the mood struck. I don’t have a fixed time any more for writing. No need, because on my bike rides I’m often thinking of new ideas and can shuffle other editing work around. I’m often writing a short story, a novel, a non-fiction piece for a cycling magazine, blogs, and editing other people’s work. I’m also the house-husband and granddad. I don’t know if I work harder now than when I was in fulltime work but it feels like it.

Nelder links:
Links to buy ARIA and other of my books are on my Amazon author page
Geoff’s UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
Geoff ARIA facebook is at http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy and he tweets at @geoffnelder

ARIA on wikia is at http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

Is it #Hot enough for you?

July 23, 2014

It looks like my Hot Air thriller has won another award – this time by Noveltunity and its fancypants badge. winner-award-june14 (3)

There you are enjoying a birthday treat in a hot air balloon. You drift across rooftops that are the quintessence of Regency Bath in rural England. Why would someone want to shoot you down? How is a hot air balloon shot down?

This unusual beginning leads to a lethal hide-and-seek adventure in the Mediterranean. Underlying the scary events is a criminal family whose specialism grew from money laundering to people laundering. Seeing suspicious men behind every olive tree and distrusting the police, feisty Erica uses the methodology of the villains against them in order to survive and seek justice.

HotAir1UK Kindle http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Air-Geoff-Nelder-ebook/dp/B0084OZL9E/
And US

Hot Air

Hot Air

Buy from Amazon

Hot Air Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-5fEJ3mvBQ

How Not to Lose Friends

July 16, 2014

Or how to not lose all the friends on your email contacts list.friends

Once the final full stop in the ARIA Trilogy was hammered home, I knew there was work to do. Yes, the critique group, the publisher’s editor, who removed many commas, and their proofreader who put most of them and more back in again, but I’m referring to promo. Many writers refuse to become involved in the marketing of their art. Others become over-anxious and ill doing so. Mine is more the laid-back variety where I spend maybe an hour a day on forums, blogs, network media while attending conventions a little, and book readings and signing a bit.

Apart from the odd appeal for votes for the P&E Readers’ poll, and in encouraging writers to submit shorts to the now-departed Escape Velocity magazine, I’ve not tried a mass email plea to all my pals and acquaintances in my email contacts. For one thing over the last 12 years or so and with the way yahoo adds to contact lists, I now have over 1300 individual email addresses. To help sort them out I was able to export them as a csv file to Excel spreadsheet. I probably should have put them directly into a word processor but hey ho. Then I found I could delete hundreds – for example all those publishers starting with the word submission, editor, competition, and no-reply! I found many emails were from companies I’ve either bought from or argued with and again I could delete all those starting with support and all those from national and local government departments. I was down to 900 – yeay. I found many of my genuine friends were listed several times mainly because they keep changing their email addresses. Why would Karen need a yahoo, hotmail, gmail, googlemail, btinternet and msn.com email addresses? It must be a nightmare for her! Then how do I know which she doesn’t use anymore? Down to 850 addresses so that’s the list of unfortunate pals who are to receive news from me about ARIA. Yes, some already knew about the first book Left Luggage but I’ve left it until the trilogy is complete before bothering everyone.

ARIA Trilogy Box Set

ARIA Trilogy Box Set

I took inspiration from Sam Smith’s approach. He’s a marvellous poet, author and BeWrite editor who has on occasion to inform his contacts of his poetry and other publications. His posts are a delight to read. Instead of hammering a ‘you must buy’ in the first line, he apologises for taking up your time and computer electrons and invites you to delete even before reading the rest. I like his style and told him I was doing something similar. My first foray into writing was making up jokes and skits for stage comedians – not real ones, just other pupils at school. One of my jokes was told to a Christmas play audience including a Bishop of Gloucester. He must have used it to his colleagues because I heard it on Thought for the Day on Radio 4 a few years ago. I nearly fell of the toilet! So I use the gist of that joke in my mass email to my friends in the hope they don’t immediately put my post in their spam folder. Here it is:

Dear friends,
You might know my joke about a priest who on his first jittery sermon said that last night he took solace in the arms of a beautiful woman but that … he couldn’t remember who she was!
This note is rather like that. Many have told me to keep them informed when the final full stop of my infectious amnesia trilogy, ARIA has been punched. Ingratiating apologies if you are not interested. Just delete this post now, hopefully not with the spam button although worse has happened to me in the cardio suite in a Liverpool hospital last month so I’ll live, again.
If you are interested then all three books of the ARIA trilogy are now published as ebooks and paperbooks. Directly from the publisher or from Amazon and other online bookshops. Links are below.
Publisher’s site with purchase options http://www.ll-publications.com/aria3.html
Geoff’s UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

BOX SET ebook of The ARIA Trilogy for UK readers http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Trilogy-Box-set-ebook/dp/B00LQACNZS/ £7.20
for US readers http://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Trilogy-Box-set-ebook/dp/B00LQACNZS/ $12.35
If you occasionally stumble into facebook please consider viewing and liking http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy
Coffee & doughnuts,
Geoff
* the beautiful woman was, of course, his mother.

Well, what do you think? No matter because they’ve gone now. I remembered that when I sent masses of emails inviting people to submit stories to Escape Velocity mag yahoo mail often hiccupped with blocks because they don’t like us sending lots of posts at once. They might be spam! Really. No one knows how many you can send at once. Yahoo won’t say. Some forum users reckon as little as 15 at a time and no more frequently than every 30 minutes. I found no trouble in sending to 22 addresses every 20 minutes or so. It took a whole day. Not doing it again! I’ve only received two complaints – one was asking if we’d met. Well, in fact we’d met at FantasyCon and swapped business cards so she was all right but in future not to send her unsolicited posts again please. Fair enough. Another was from a publisher who didn’t like people trying to sell him books he didn’t publish – haha.
Luckily, I’ve received a bunch of warming emails from people on the list who say they’ve often wondered how I’ve been getting on – what’s all that about your cardio, and then tell me all their new. Wonderful.
If you know of a better way of not losing your friends please let me know but all in all it worked pretty well.

Note: Sam Smith’s web page, well worth a visit is here.

Rising #sciencefiction star – Mark Iles

July 10, 2014
The Cull of Lions by Mark Iles

The Cull of Lions by Mark Iles

It is my pleasure to make space on my blog for a rising star in the firmament of science fiction writers. I’ve known Mark Iles for years as a fellow critiquer in the Orbiters section of the British Science Fiction Association. His books such as THE CULL OF LIONS are a must read for any fan of military SF with elements of mystery, thriller and strong characterisation. In his own words:

My good friend Geoff’s advice and critiques over the years I’ve known him have always proved invaluable. It’s this guidance that’s helped to form The Darkening Stars series, so I’d like to say a very big thank you to him here, and wish Geoff all the best for the continuing success of his superb Aria series

Mark Iles

Mark Iles

Author Bio
Mark works for Southampton University, and also as a freelance writer in many fields including copywriting. His short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Auguries, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Right To Fight, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Monk Punk. With an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo he’s also written non-fiction for Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net.
His first full length work was Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo, and he also has a short story collection available entitled Distant Shores. His debut novel A Pride of Lions was published by Solstice in September 2013, followed shortly afterwards by 4 novellas: A Connoisseur of the Bizarre, Sally Jane, Nightshade and Santa Claws is Coming. The Cull of Lions is Book II in The Darkening Stars series.

Blurb:
Selena Dillon and her team return to Loreen after their attack on Mantis, only to find the myriad worlds of Mankind once again plunged into war. As the Penal Regiments are betrayed by the Federation of Man, and fighting spills throughout the galaxy, the dreaded Manta raise their heads once again.
Selena soon finds herself trying to track down her friends’ daughter, Hope, from the rabbit holes of Loreen and then fights to free her home planet from alien invaders.
While a general amnesty means previous sins are forgiven, the Queen has not forgotten Selena’s attempt on her life. Selena soon finds herself torn between obeying orders to protect the monarch, and her ravening thirst for revenge. But strange forces are stirring amidst the stars and Mankind finds itself with surprising new allies, while a terrifying enemy that’s manipulated events from behind the scenes finally reveals itself for the very first time.

In this excerpt Selena and her team have returned to Loreen, and are being debriefed by Admiral Van Pluy.

Excerpt
“We’ve kept our word. These colonists need us and we need them. We bring in supplies, employ them, buy their goods and so far everyone’s a winner. You did damn well here, Commander, when you got them to work with us, all of you did. I believe you’re aware that the aliens survived the destruction of Mantis and their system; a colony ship of some kind got away. They’ve set up a base somewhere, although God knows where, and they’ve begun rebuilding their own forces too. But the worst news, as you know, is they’ve landed on Capulet.”
“Yeah, we heard. I expect you know that’s my home world. What’s the situation there?”
Van Pluy picked up his cigar, stared at it for a moment before mashing it into the ashtray and selected another one from a wooden box on his desk. Then he returned to his chair, leant back and sucked on the cigar. It self-lit and as he puffed away and the aromatic smoke rose around him in purple clouds, which were instantly whipped away by the tiny air conditioner on his desk. He watched Selena carefully from behind hooded eyes. “Capulet’s not lost…yet. Ironically both ourselves and the Federation have sent in reinforcements. Rather than us fighting each other we have a temporary truce while we try to save the planet. Luckily the Manta are nowhere near as powerful as they once were, thanks to you guys.
“So far we’ve managed to keep their ships away from the planet. We’re bombing the hell out of their bases, not that we’re getting through their shields, and are landing more troops all the time but there’s been a high attrition rate. Thankfully we’ve abandoned the ‘poisoned earth policy’. Personally I believe that saving the planet is do-able. I know where we stand with the Manta. It’s the Federation I don’t trust.”
“I’d like to return to Capulet, Sir,” Selena said, “to fight for it. Trouble is that’s where I committed my crime and the rules state that I can’t return there.”
“Yes, I’m sure that you do want to go back, Commander. For your information those old rules don’t apply anymore. The limited pardon means you can return to any allied world, even where you committed your crimes. But before you return home we need to find Hope, that’s your priority at this moment in time. As the Colonist leaders here on Loreen, Franks and Amanda’s support are vitally important to us and we need to keep them on board. Now, they’ve personally asked for your assistance and I’m not going to let them down. Once all this is resolved, then you can go to Capulet.”

Buy Links:

The Cull of Lions (Darkening Stars Book 2)

The Cull of Lions (Darkening Stars Book 2)

Buy from Amazon

http://solsticepublishing.com/the-cull-of-lions/

Social Media Links:
Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I
Website: http://www.markiles.co.uk
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/welcometoearth
Facebook author’s page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Iles/279162705557698
Linkedin: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mark-iles/33/67a/822
Blog: http://markiles.co.uk/the-blog

End of infectious amnesia

July 3, 2014
Aria3-cover

Cover art by Andy Bigwood

Hey peeps, I’m utterly proud to announce the release of the final and third book in my ARIA TRILOGY
ARIA is the thrilling, award-winning, scifi medical mystery and apocalyptic drama that everybody should be talking about and would be if they hadn’t forgotten it through the infectious amnesia at its heart.

ARIA stands for Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia.

This is the publisher’s information and sales page. All formats. I’ll post Amazon links too in a while. So many of you have asked when the final book is out and here it is. Enjoy.

http://www.ll-publications.com/aria3.html

In case you are inspired to read the first book in the trilogy, the price of the ebook has been slashed to less than the price of a coffee as you’ll see on these pages: #kindle now http://amzn.to/1daTUUn UK – http://amzn.to/1gn3iHI

Highlights:
1. ARIA is the first and so far only book to use the concept of infectious amnesia.
2. Although character-led, the novel has breakthrough plot threads, making us think of what is the most important and crucial aspects of our lives. Research help and support was emailed from space! Astronaut Leroy Chiao answered my questions about the nature of the struts on the International Space Station, and wished me 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 while I was riding a bicycle up a steep Welsh hill.
You tube video trailer http://youtu.be/oh0AAXIe8VU
Facebook page for you to ‘like’ if you will http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy

A typical review of book one:

http://www.brewingpassion.com/2014/06/across-beer-bar-withumi-forgot.html

A wikia page about me and the ARIA Trilogy is http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

News on buying a box set of the ARIA Trilogy is coming soon.
Anyone wanting signed copies of any of the books please send me a message here in a comment or email geoffnelderATyahooDOTcom or message me on facebook.

Two stents heavier

June 26, 2014

patientSo, on Saturday my wife needed to pop into part of Chester hospital so while I waited I thought I’d pop into A&E just to see if there was a queue. All of them sports injuries. The ‘streaming’ nurse asked so I mentioned the chest pains and … whoa. I was fast-tracked past the bleeding queue and into the Acute Medical Unit. My stable angina had upgraded itself to unstable and I was in an ambulance joking with the paramedics to Liverpool’s Heart & Chest Hospital. So now I am home, heavier with two stents in my coronary artery and more meds than a Lloyds Pharmacy.
During my enforced rest I was able to edit my new book I wrote in one day at a writers’ retreat in Lanzarote last week. String Theory – for infants. Inspired by the fact that my grandkids have learnt I’m an orfer and want to read one of my books (gulp – those naughty bits!). Trying to do the illustrations myself and learnt that I’m ace at drawing string.
By coincidence I learn that my aunt Jo – sister to my dad – experienced angioplasty this week too. Come on Nelders, Live long and prosper – prosper in the health and literary sense.

Kim, at UKAuthors asked if I’d written a hospital story. Yes, back in 2005 this one won best short of the month on the BeWrite Community Forum flashes.

Impatient
By Geoff Nelder

They never get it right. Damn fracture clinic. Look at that queue – I’m early for my ten-twenty but they’ve got new bookings mixed with return patients. The fifteen minutes in this sweaty line will make me late – their fault.
They won’t admit it. They’ll pull a face as if I couldn’t be bothered to fall out of bed.
“Card?”
“How d’you expect me to find a pokey bit of card after three weeks? I have a bust arm you know. Get real.”
“Name?”
“Carter, John, nineteen-fifty.”
“What’s nineteen-fifty?”
“When I was born, what d’you think? The time? Though it might be – the rate you’re going.”
“I don’t need…there you are,” she says, fishing out a large card envelope, plastered with old labels – probably all deceased. My name is the current owner. She slings the file into a wire tray.
“Take a seat over there.”
My turn to be glared at by the dozen already sitting. They look away when they see they don’t know me, or want to with my exaggerated turned-down mouth. The trickiest bit is choosing a seat. You’re in it for a long time so you don’t want to pick up bugs from some festering neighbour. Not that fractures are infectious. On the other hand, they might be communicable judging by the barging about I’ve done with my cast and I saw a nurse go for a nose-dive when she tripped over the crutch wielded by sourpuss over there.
Best get a seat next to a table, even if it’s loaded with last year’s magazines – all women’s twaddle. You can stretch your elbow without starting a fight and get another read minus a stare repeat. Damn, the only vacant seat is between two tramps. I hate hospitals.
The two elderly women fidget to let me in. Everybody is ancient – might as well be an old folk’s home. I tell a lie; a kid’s come in with his left arm in a cast – like mine. I wouldn’t let anyone use their filthy pens all over mine like his – prat. I have one bit of red writing my Liz wrote when I was asleep. Silly old git. A graduate and all. I’ve tried to clean it off but the plaster started disintegrating – anyway the sling hides it.
“1,950 appointments not kept last year,” says a poster. I’m not surprised; most were probably dead or self-healed in the reception queue and went home.
“Are you carrying a donor card?” As if anyone would want my breaking-up bits.
Ah, the one just called was queued two in front of me in reception. I wonder if they’re seeing us in appointment order? What a name – Gervaise Happentrot – that’s what it sounded like. No secrets here. At least you’re not unusual wearing plaster: no kids point and laugh because they’re in the same fix.
The biddy next to me spots another victim.
“Hello, you’re Maureen from Cilcain, aren’t you? Couple of weeks back?”
“Yes, and you live in Chester. I turn round to my Harry and said lifelong friendships are made in these queues.”
“I remember, we swapped magazines.”
“Yours coming off today then?”
“Yes, and you?”
“Might be. My Harry said he hoped so. I turned round and said –“
I can’t help laughing. They glare.
Maureen shoots words at me: “You men expect us to slave all the time. This cast has been a Godsend.” They both nod at each other then at me.
“No love. It’s the image of you spinning every time you speak…”
They turn their backs in puzzlement and carry on. I can’t listen anymore even though there is nothing else to do except contemplate and employ unfocussed staring.
Could focus on the TV suspended from the ceiling. Not working – probably don’t want to excite us with hospital dramas where things happen.
Hey, that kid’s being seen before me. My word-oozing daughter would be going on about non-pre-emptive priority.
Damn. I can’t risk leaving my seat for the hospital shop. They might call me or some rat will take my seat.
Double damn, I can’t risk going for a slash either. I hate hospitals.
“John Carter!”
“That’s right. Where else does a little girl like you have the right to shout out our private first names to the public?”
“I’m sorry?”
“So you should be. In here?” I follow her pointing fingers as a mixture of sniggers and agreeing nods react to my rant.
“Bugger me. Another waiting room?”
“The consultant will only be a few minutes. Sit on the bed and slip off your jacket,” she says, for the zillionth time today and left me alone in the one-bed room.
More posters; one depicts the permutations of skeletal problems but more interesting is the directions over the sink for washing hands. Do I use soap or the non-soap detergent? If my hands are cold, do I use the latex gloves with or without talc? It’s all here. Decisions.
“John Carter?”
“Still the same,” I reply to the fourteen-year old consultant who comes in reading my file with one eye, the other scanning my X-ray. He taps my cast.
“Want to scratch your arm?” says pimply.
“What do you bloody think?”
“Nurse, take this man to the plaster room, he’s having it off today.”
“Yes, doctor. Now come on, John, it’s time we saw a smile.”
I can’t help but crack my face a little after weeks of inconvenience, and follow her out into the packed waiting room, down the corridor lined with more peopled chairs and into another alcove.
“Wait here, John.”
“Not another bloody waiting room?”
“You can watch your language and be patient.”
I grab a dog-eared Private Eye off a table just as a leg-plastered woman stares.
“Oh, hello,” she says.
“Sorry, I don’t know you: I live in the next county.”
The damn woman persists: “In Oswestry. You were my GP – Doctor John Carter!”

Nelder News:

Abandoned Luggage in the ARIA Trilogy is out on July 1st. Watch this space.

ARIA (winner of the P&E Readers’ Poll for best SF novel) on wikia http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

Another web database here http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/nelder_geoff

Geoff’s UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

You tube video trailer for ARIA http://youtu.be/oh0AAXIe8VU

Like if you will, the ARIA facebook page at http://on.fb.me/12vz7IW

http://geoffnelder.com

Weapons Sold Separately – free story

June 7, 2014

torchFor the June 28th meeting of the Chester Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers Group (everyone invited – 2pm meeting room upstairs), Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers is to be discussed. In 2005 Issue #5 a humorous story of mine was published in Jupiter magazine. Entitled Weapons Sold Separately, it was inspired by my reading of Roadside Picnic. Here is a tweaked version of my tale.

The title was inspired by a random words computer program used by a speculative fiction website called The Rumour Mill, which has sadly closed after its owners were sued by Publish America. Some Rumour Mill contributors concocted a spoof novel, Atlanta Nights, to demonstrate that Publish America was nothing more than a vanity press with no editing or checking in operation. Ironically, the plot-flawed, ridiculous-charactered Atlanta Nights became a best seller!

Weapons Sold Separately
By Geoff Nelder

Forcing himself to bear the Nevada desert heat, Jethro Zedwe’s spine shivered as behind him a roar thundered closer. His meditation in control, he suppressed his anger.
The purple red hues of the baking sandstone cliffs and ravines had only one human to take it all in. Standing on a red sandstone rock overlooking Signal Gulch, he opened his arms to take in the spirits of his Shoshone ancestors and chanted, “Gwananaa, gwananaa.” He had no idea what it meant except that it was an important Shoshone spiritual word and it would endear him to the ancients. For centuries they’d enjoyed hard but ancient lives in the ravines below. Duped out of their homelands, their spirits remained in the dust, the rocks, and the very air he breathed. He’d promised the eagle’s feather he kept in his New York apartment that this summer he’d come to absorb the spiritual atmosphere, the ennui. Although both of his parents looked as Caucasian as a chalk cliff, he resembled a Hollywood Pocahontas. Even to the beaked nose and black hair. Pity his gravestone teeth were yellow and crooked; but he’d never needed treatment and wasn’t letting any cosmetic orthodontist loose in his mouth. So, what the hell was a damn airplane doing flying too low over the sacred ground?
Over his right shoulder, a blunt-nosed grey airplane headed for the ravine floor.
“Damn USAF disturbing my ancestors,” he said, kicking up a mini-dust storm, while he evil-eyed the craft. “Well, there ain’t no airstrip out there, buddy. Whoa, that’s a crash-land.” A rising cloud of disturbed sand and grit met his eyes a full three seconds before the awful grinding noise hurt Jethro’s ears. He knew he wasted time but he unfolded the most detailed map he had of Phantom Gulch. A track wound its way north to Tonopah USAF rocket test range. Jethro nodded at the supposed link to the crash-landed plane. He’d have to drive his motor home off road but the desert surface should be Okay.
It took him twenty minutes to tease the vehicle off the ridge, down a rough track and another mile down a dried riverbed to the crash site. If the rocket was painted grey yesterday, it had a sandy coat now. At a hundred yards, and the width of two buses, it outsized the typical USAF test rocket Jethro had expected to find. Amazingly, it seemed undamaged though any undercarriage would be wire wool. No markings – typical of secret government projects.
The nose of the rocket had bulldozed a dune of its own, so that if there was a forward window, it was covered now. Scrambling round to the left, he saw that he’d made an error when he thought the rocket had escaped damage. Jagged bedrock had scraped all the left side and had sprung a cargo door.
He come out here as a temporary escape from the hustle of his commodities dealership job in the New York Stock Exchange, but a gleam sparkled in his eyes. There, in this rocket, plane, spaceship or whatever, lay a treasure trove of merchandise ready for the taking. Resting on the edge of the doorway, his hand sank a quarter-inch into the metal. Jethro, stunned, jumped back and fell. Cautiously, he crept back on his fours, brushed loose sand off the outer skin of the spaceship and poked. Again, it behaved like a silver sponge with increasing resistance so, at most, only his fingertip went in.
He went back to his motor home, heaved himself up the ladder to the roof and looked around. The dust had settled but he anticipated imminent search and rescue. Fine, no sign of anyone. He slid back down and ignoring nagging cautionary thoughts clambered into the gaping cargo door. A light came on. Then he stopped. If a sensor flipped a light switch, it might signal his intrusion to an alarm. Too late and the booty before him was too alluring to ignore. Silvery soft packaging protected most of the merchandise. Jethro whistled with impressed delight at the boxes of electronic gadgets, most of which were easily portable.
Half an hour later his whistling transformed to gut-hurting laughter. The weird markings on the gadgets added to his alien-origin hypothesis. All the better. If he could figure out how they worked, he’d make his fortune, but he’d have to hurry. Helicopters were bound to arrive any moment.
Each time he scrambled to his vehicle, he looked for incoming vehicles, air or land. Each time he thought he had enough already but the next load could contain a futuristic Eldorado he’d be foolish to leave for some soldier. Eventually, his quivering stomach made him climb into the driver’s seat and create his own cloud of dust. Maybe no one knew about the crashed spaceship but him. He could sneak back after a few days, coincidental-like.
The nearest town was Tonopah, but he knew it would be stuffed full of the armed services so he motored on south to Vegas.

The back street motel lacked the mega-wattage lights of The Strip, but it had wifi in his room, and a parking place for the motor home.
Jethro had the jitters. Over excitement and fear nagged at his stomach. Eager to set up a sales pitch yet bothered that he might have committed a crime, and not only on Earth. He had to calm down. The motel shop could have sold him all the provisions he needed but he felt an hour of a snack and contemplation in the café would do him more good.
The aromatic Colombian coffee lifted his spirits. He ate maple syrup pancakes as he thought through his best strategy. After selecting and ascertaining what some of the gadgets did, he could take a few to a regular re-sales shop but he’d rather deal anonymously with his clients and he reckoned he’d get more money selling on the web. He lifted his coffee cup to sniff the aroma. Looking through the wisps of steam he saw a little girl staring at him. He put his cup down and smiled at her. As usually happens, she turned and ran back to mommy, who on listening to her, turned to frown at him and his yellow teeth. Just as he wondered whether to go over and apologise for smiling, a wardrobe-sized heavy sat in front of him, replacing his view of a scowling woman with one of a black beard and a baseball cap, sporting the motif – Kill.
The feeling he wasn’t as relaxed as he should became emphasised when he read the tattooed words on Kill’s knuckles. LOVE and HAT. He was missing the little finger on his left hand. Hardly able to control his mirth, Jethro decided it was time to go back to his vehicle and take one of the packages back to his room. Luckily, the silvery coffee-table size box didn’t look too much out of the ordinary if anyone saw him.
Kneeling on the thick pile carpet, he peeled back the top of the box, revealing hand-sized packages inside. His heart rocking with both fear and excitement, he took one and unwrapped it. A torch. All that trouble for a poxy little kid’s torch. Throwing it on the carpet, a blinding light told him that maybe they weren’t all toy torches.
“Whoa,” he called out and immediately shushed himself. The light dimmed but the torch still emitted the brightest light he’d seen away from a house-sized searchlight. He picked it up ensuring he pointed it down and away from his eyes. Prodding at the bumpy sides the light extinguished itself. Encouraged, he opened more packages. His delight at finding a pair of binoculars turned to dismay when he realised they saw straight through buildings; what use was that? His smile returned when he tried an earpiece. He couldn’t figure its function until a TV commentator spoke Spanish – after a few moments the earpiece fed him the translation. There were other items that appeared to do nothing although he dared not press them too much in case they operated in wavelengths he couldn’t detect, but were frying his brains.
This was even more so for the larger pointy things that were likely to be weapons. His solution was to operate a scam. No, sorry, more of a web-based lucky dip. Let the punters find out what the gadgets really did.
He set up a virtual market stall on the well-known internet shop, Obay.

Fantastic wacky gadgets
Super advanced technology
You just gotta have one

He found some science fiction images, added a link to his global pay account he used for dodgy share dealings and hovered his finger over Enter. Just in time he added the clinching pitch:

Surprise out-of-this-world gift with each purchase

Then he pressed Enter.

Oops, he forgot about the military hardware. Internet shopping regulations meant he had to make different checking arrangements for them. No sweat. Just a pretence of exercising additional security checks on clients. He accessed his website edit program and added another button with a missile icon:
Weapons Sold Separately
Of course he elaborated on linked pages: just enough to make gadget lovers drool. Half an hour and three coffees later, he split the laptop screen into two windows. The left filled with client data, the right with his accumulating account. He rubbed his hands, dived for the yellow pages and used his phone to arrange a courier service to bring postal service bags and take away his sold items.

Strangely, he felt bigger. It must be all the laughing he felt obliged to do. Back in the café, he even laughed when he barged into Kill, who, clearly worried at the bursting overconfidence of the Native American in safari clothes, backed off. Jethro settled to an all-day breakfast at 9pm, looking around for more children to smile at and scare away.

His delirium at making a mint out of his chance discovery turned to worry after the courier took away the last but one package on the third day. He didn’t think he ought to stay any longer. It wasn’t as if he had done anything really wrong. No one on the planet could claim they owned the merchandise. No one knew he’d taken them and the descriptions he gave were vague enough to prevent any buyers’ rights lawyers from taking up action against him. Even so, it was better to avoid trouble than be in the right to fight it. His motel room looked a riot of packaging material, both alien and terrestrial. His smile returned at the chaotic sight. He reached for his travel bag to throw in his toiletries and laptop before leaving when a loud thump accompanied the opening of the door.
“Jethro Zedwe?” said the man in a dark suit, backed up by armed police.
“Who wants to know?”
Another suit stepped in from hiding behind the doorway. “The government.”
Jethro sat heavily on the pile of packaging covering his bed. So much for his really good idea of stealing from aliens. He might have known the government would want it all.
“Actually, Mr Zedwe just left. I’m clearing up. If you hurry you might catch him.”
“Maybe we could drive that Winnebago outside. The one hired out to you,” said the first suit.
“All right. I am Mr Zedwe. I want a lawyer.”
“Really? You done something wrong?”
“Why else are you here?”
“We are IRS. You have a hundred thousand dollars in unpaid taxes over the last three years.”
Jethro laughed. The men snarled.
“Will you take Goldcard?”

Jethro’s mouth ached from his permanent grin all the way back to New York. He called in at his apartment to unload one last box of gadgets, kept as a keepsake, before returning the motor home to the hire company. He ruefully shook his head at the memory of his journey’s purpose. He’ll have to catch up with the spirits of his ancestors another time.
As he laced up his high-tech trainers for his regular evening jog, Jethro thought of who he might have sold the weapons to. As when he made surreptitious share dealings, he tried not to contemplate his contribution to unpleasantness somewhere on the planet. He laughed off the notion playing in his head that one of the gadgets might have been a planet buster.
He took his alien torch with him; not because he was going to run in dark places but he reckoned the bright light would be a more effective mugger-scarer than the personal alarm he carried. The sidewalk reflected the amber street lamps and made slurpy soughing noises with his jogging. Three blocks later, he approached the newsstand from which he usually bought a paper and a large bag of chips, made acceptable by the run.
“Got a light?” said a heavy male voice behind him.
“I sure have, try this,” said Jethro, turning. He pressed the side of the torch with anticipatory delight. The searchlight beam whitened the potential assailant, the sidewalk, the wall behind and probably the room behind the wall.
“Hey, I am so sorry, Reverend,” said Jethro, when he saw the man’s dog collar. He squeezed the torch but it wouldn’t turn off. As he tried harder the beam cut through the air in all directions, followed by wails, screams and car-screeches.
“Turn off, damn you,” Jethro shouted. The light stopped. Actually, it stopped about five metres away from the end of the torch, and slowly inched back into it.
The newsvendor, safe in his box, said, “Now that’s an impressive trick, mister.”

Even the reverend must have been impressed because after he’d stood from being on his back, he returned to the ground, on his knees.
More observers gathered, watching in fascination as the apparently solid white light cone retreated slowly into the torch. A minute later the end of the light-beam reached the torch, and the crowd started to dissipate, muttering. Jethro turned to apologise to the reverend, who had stood once again. But the man stared at the nearby street lamp. Jethro looked up and saw the lamp dim and fizzle out. Shards of amber light flashed from the extinguished lamp to the torch.
Jethro had a weird idea and pointed the torch at part of the nearby brick wall, which was illuminated by another light. A circle on the wall darkened until it became black. The torch sucked in light.
“That’s impossible,” said the newsvendor. The reverend fell again to his knees in supplication to his God. Some of the dissipating crowd started to return.
“Stay back,” shouted Jethro. “Suppose it isn’t just light it’s sucking up.”
“You mean it might be vacuuming electrical energy?” said one.
“Our life-force?” said another, stepping backwards. “Or maybe it is a portable black hole. Turn the fucker off.”

“I am trying to, but it won’t.” Thoughts of the other twenty he sold flashed through Jethro’s mind. Another man lifted the lid of a nearby trashcan and indicated it to Jethro, who threw the torch in.
The crowd closed in once more. Jethro glanced up at unaware passer-byes, who looked curiously at what appeared to be street-theatre until they saw the star was a trashcan. Sure enough the area immediately around the can dimmed, darkened and went black. A slowly widening circle of black spread from the trashcan.
The newsvendor said, “It can’t go on sucking light up forever, can it? It is too small. When does it run out of batteries?”
Jethro had entertained the thought of power supplies to the gadgets but assumed that somehow the aliens had worked around them.
“Don’t be stupid,” said the man who suggested the trashcan. “All that light going into the torch is its energy supply.”
They all looked at the increasing circle of dark and muttered oaths to people who weren’t backing up fast enough.
“Suppose it goes in cycles,” said the newsvendor. “Once it’s had its fill of light it goes into reverse and blasts it out again.”
Everyone nodded at the eminently sensible conservation of energy equation, and it suggested to Jethro that he might not have started a NYC or even global disaster after all. Nevertheless, the light continued to be sapped, now stretching across the road.
A police patrol car alerted them with a short siren wail.
“Excellent,” said the man who suggested the trashcan as he lifted the lid, grabbed the torch and rushed over to the open window of the police car. “Here, we want to hand in this lost property.”
“We do?” asked Jethro, who joined the rest making themselves scarce leaving the cop puzzling over the silver tube that didn’t seem to do anything.
Jethro peeped around a corner to see the cop throw it in his glove compartment as he drove off. A few moments later, the car lost all its lights and stalled. Jethro ran in the opposite direction.

Sitting at his kitchen table, cradling a glass of Bourbon, Jethro perspired partly from the run but mostly in wondering about the other gadgets he’d sold and the remainder in the box behind him. He rummaged and fished out the translating earpiece. Tuning the TV to a foreign language convinced him the translator worked fine.
He tentatively removed an object the size and look of a clothes iron. After the torch debacle, he kinda hoped it was just that. But the flat section was concave. He turned it over and a metallic voice came through his earpiece.
“Incoming missile return to sender deflector.”
Jethro smiled. A cool piece of defensive technology.
“Activated.”
“Oh, shit.” Jethro put it on the table and sat back from it. Nothing happened but he realised nothing would until a missile headed towards it. Laughing, he crumpled up a phone bill and tossed it at the concave dish. The ball of paper stopped and shot back to Jethro’s hand.
“Wow, though it would’ve been even better to have sent my bill directly back to the Bell company. It looks like I’ll have at least a dozen satisfied customers with that one.”
He had another rummage in the box and came up with a matt-black matchbox. He put it on the table and stared at it. For all he knew it could be a tiny weapon of mass destruction or – just a matchbox. He tapped it gently with a pencil. Nothing. He lifted it and was about to open it a little when his earpiece said, “Danger. Nano-midges.”
They must be microscopic artificial flying biting insects. The sort that would get into your ears, nose, mouth and… Ugh. He threw the box at his open window. It didn’t get there. It hovered where the glass should have been and flew straight back to Jethro’s hand, which was fisted by then. So the box fell to the table. Fearing it might open and let out the nano-midges, he snatched at it, but was it too late? He sat there for a minute, staring at the box looking for any sign of ant-like creatures although he knew they might be too small for him to see. His nose tickled…
The shower was to short-circuit the little nasties, wash them out of his crevices and generally put them off, if they were on him. Logic told him that the return-to-sender-missile-deflector should have returned them to their box and maybe it had. Every itch worried him and worry produced more itching.
Checking his laptop, he found that he’d sent a matchbox as a freebie to all fifty-six customers. He developed a headache when he wondered if the damn things reproduced, what they fed on and if they can be stopped outside of their boxes. He might have been responsible for the eating away of planet Earth. He wondered how long it would take for Earth to be reduced to a cloud of crumbs.
His door intercom buzzed.
“Who is it?”

“Mr Jethro Zedwe?”
He peered at the scratchy camera image. Two men in suits.
“You are those IRS men again, aren’t you?”
“Are you going to let us in?”
Jethro released the door.
The two men were followed by two grimmer-looking men.
“Did you want more of my money?”
“We are agents from the International Trade branch of the FBI. I am Mr Grant. Trying to bribe government officials, Mr Zedwe. That’s very serious. Make a note, Mr Green.”
“I meant it to cover any tax deficit.”
“We are not interested in your sordid little tax situation, Mr Zedwe. We want to know where you acquired shed-loads of foreign electronic goods. Where’s your import licence? We believe some have come from embargoed countries. Are those some of them, there?”
“What? I found them and so I don’t need any licence and I assure you they haven’t come from any embargoed country. Oi, don’t touch them. They’re dangerous.”
“Really, Mr Zedwe?” said Mr Green, grabbing what appeared to be a plastic orange out of the box of gadgets. Suddenly the orange expanded and enveloped him.
Mr Green could be seen through the translucent skin, panicking as if he couldn’t breathe.
“Interesting,” said Mr Grant, as his hand couldn’t penetrate the envelope. “Calm down, Mr Green, you’ll be fine. Breathe slowly. And you, Mr Zedwe, say this force field, or whatever it is, isn’t from a foreign country?”
Jethro stood, mouth open, which is what Mr Green was doing but without taking in air. The earpiece, still in his ear, was repeating a phrase. “Malfunction, air exchange inoperable. Returning to standby mode.”
“No,” shouted Jethro, thinking that the orange envelope will shrink-wrap Mr Green.
“No, what?” said Mr Grant, drawing a firearm from inside his jacket. In response the other men did the same. It seemed to give an oxygenation idea to Mr Green who drew his gun, pointed it at the ceiling and fired.
“No,” shouted Jethro, but no one could hear as in the noise and confusion the bullet from Mr Green’s gun went through the envelope, turned and went into the left shoulder of the agent behind Mr Grant. Assuming they were under attack, the other agent behind Mr Grant fired his gun at Jethro. The bullet stopped and headed out of the window.
“Missile deflector malfunction, source co-ordinates unascertainable,” said the earpiece. Jethro groaned, thinking of all the bullets, rockets, and projected items being deflected in random directions by these faulty gadgets he’d sold.
Mr Green fired again within his envelope. This time the bullet ricocheted around inside the orange, which had started shrinking. It was like watching a large animated model of electrons randomly orbiting a nucleus. He would have screamed but he was asphyxiating by both lack of air and being shrink-wrapped.
Jethro could see that the awful sight, and the wounding of the agent shocked the others into silence. They didn’t know who or what to fire at.
The door intercom buzzed again but no one felt obliged to respond to it. A few more buzzes and it stopped. The door slowly opened revealing two women in Armani suits.
“Attention people,” said the earpiece, although only Jethro could hear it. “One of you have our merchandise. We have come to reclaim.”
“Hey,” said Jethro. “I found those gadgets in the desert. Anyone could have found them and hurt themselves or other people.”
One of the “women” smiled in a robotic jerky fashion. “We thank you for safe keeping of the merchandise, but they are faulty goods on their way to be repaired. The malfunction on the return-to-sender missile deflector activated itself and caused the unmanned cargo ship to deviate from its journey and…”
“Just a minute,” said Jethro. “Where is the planet you are from, and where is the repair depot the cargo ship was headed for?”
“We are not obliged to answer you,” said the “woman”.
“Fine, then I shan’t tell you where all the gadgets are,” said Jethro, hoping his involuntary glance at his laptop hadn’t given himself away.
“The ship has been travelling for many years.”
“And the repair depot?” said Jethro, hoping a local base might offer a trading opportunity.
“Back on our planet. The malfunction occurred while in sub-orbit flight from one continent to the other.”
“What? You mean the cargo ship went off course for zillions of miles, for decades? Why did it come here?”
“Your planet accidentally intercepted the ship. The navigation system malfunctioned. The ship has been in orbit around your planet for centuries before coming down a few days ago.”
“Doesn’t anything work properly? Your faulty goods are probably killing people and destroying our planet as we chat away here. I – we – need compensation.”
“We wish you to hurry, we have to go back to our home. Our home…”
At that moment the earpiece fell out of Jethro’s ear.
“Say that again please?” he said.
“Gwananaa,” the alien said, in perfect Shoshone. “Gwananaa.”

The End

Geoff Nelder © 2014
Geoff’s UK Amazon author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
Geoff facebooks at http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy and tweets at @geoffnelder

Science Fiction Sampler

June 4, 2014

samplerWriting groups are so useful. I belong to one in Chester, which specialises in fantasy and they critiqued for me a story entitled something like When Where Many are One a few months ago. The story was tweaked and changed to Een’s Revolt on Zadig and published this evening in a mostly American anthology Science Fiction Writers Sampler 2014 on Kindle at

Science Fiction Writers Sampler 2014

Science Fiction Writers Sampler 2014

Buy from Amazon

or for the US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KREH10G
it’s 77p and besides me there’s a host of science fiction writers for you to sample including Mark Iles, David Conyers, David Kernot, Guy Immega, Brad Torgeson, Gustavo Bondini, Patty Jansen and brilliant others.

Abandoned Luggage is on its way

June 3, 2014

At last, the final and third book in the much-talked-about ARIA Trilogy is to be released on July 1st. The original, unique idea of infectious amnesia spurred the first book Left Luggage and its great cover art by award-winning artist, Andy Bigwood. If you want to catch up then glance at the video trailer and excerpt at

http://www.ll-publications.com/leftluggage.html


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