“Aria: Left Luggage” by Geoff Nelder

ARIA: Left LuggageARIA: Left Luggage by Geoff Nelder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is perhaps the most innocently thought provoking book I have ever read. What would happen if everyone began to experience memory loss? How would the world be affected by the gradual but constant loss of days, months, and years by every single person on earth? What happens if we all eventually regressed to infancy? Geoff Nelder attacks this question with fear and humor in “Aria: Left Luggage”. When the crew of the International Space Station finds a metallic suitcase mysteriously stuck in the struts of the space station the first question that arises is how did it get there? Then the inevitable question follows, should they open it or send it back to the labs on Earth to be examined? When the case is finally opened using less than secure procedures a virus is released on Earth that is unlike anything scientists could have imagined. Little by little people begin to lose their memories. Called ARIA, Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia, it sweeps the world, seemingly airborne and unavoidable. This is a fascinating tale of how important our memories are and how much we take them for granted. Nelder weaves a subtle tale where recent memories go first but as time goes by more and more memories are lost. Tension builds as younger victims are reduced to childhood and even infancy. Professionals like doctors and scientists regress until they are unable to perform job duties because they have forgotten what they learned to do. Panic ensues as violence and chaos sweep the earth. Amazingly there are pockets of people unaffected by the virus because they were able to avoid contamination. Meanwhile another suitcase appears on the ISS. Will this contain a cure or is there an even more disastrous virus about to be released on Earth? This is not simply a science fiction story. This is a story of the collapse of civilization as we know it and the behaviors of people thrust into unknown territory. The characters are real people confronting a frightening new world, some desperate to retain some semblance of normalcy while others struggle to function in spite of their mental deterioration. How much of our humanity relies on our ability to remember? How far would we go to protect ourselves from a sweeping virus that could eventually take everything that defines us? This is a story that confronts basic issues and makes the reader stop and think. A unique and insightful story it is a must read.

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