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Vanished Earth, a new book by Geoff Nelder

Geoff Nelder is a professional liar, badass editor, and fiction competition judge living in Britain. He was awarded Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society for his research into air pollution and microclimates, shamelessly using his students as unpaid researchers to discover urban heat islands in Yorkshire towns and villages. He taught now-out-of-date Geography and IT to the ungrateful alive but escaped on his bike to write.

His publications include award-winning science fiction novels Alien Exit and the ARIA trilogy; and not-a-hope-of-an-award thrillers Escaping Reality, and Hot Air. An historical fantasy escaped from him with Vengeance Island set on Malta and his publisher commissioned a series of sf novellas, Flying Crooked. Many of his short stories have found homes in mags such as The Horror Zine, Perihelion, Ether Books, Encounters, Jimston Journal, Delivered, Screaming Dreams and many anthologies such as Monk Punk, Science Fiction Writers’ Sampler (with Gregory Benford and David Brin), Twisted Tails, and Zombified.

His non-fiction includes books on climate, and he co-wrote How to Win Short Story Competitions.

Hey Geoff, welcome to my blog. I’ve never quite met an author who has such way-out ideas as you. How on earth (or off it) do you come up with them? A Person waking up on the ceiling is a prime example, although the Aria Series about contagious amnesia remains my favourite.

Until I was a student teacher, I thought everyone had crazy ideas all the time, like me but there was a whole module called Creativity and I realised not everybody did. I think long cycle rides on my own allows freshly oxygenated blood around my brain giving it ideas.

What drives you to write?

Some of my whacky ideas need to be written so others can laugh at them. Eg the girl who wakes up on top of Nelson’s Column (not a euphemism although it could lead to another story…)

Common mistakes by writers and how to avoid them?

So many I could write a book…hang on: How to win short story competitions co-written by Geoff Nelder and Dave Haslett – look it up on Amazon

Favourite trope?

Exploring strange planets and stories where ordinary folk have something extraordinary happen to them.

Where do you see the future of books going, more towards audio – or are people still into eBooks and hard copy?

audio (except for the deaf as I nearly am, in which case we need subtitled audio – ah, they’re called eBooks or books) and thought-transfer fiction yet to be realized.

What hooked you on scifi?

Mum joined me to the Children's Science Fiction Book Club when I was 4 and my dad illustrated SF mags in his evenings.

Aliens, real or imagined…or, what?

imagined until I see them unless I already have, or at least their descendants as octopi.

Tell me about Vanished Earth.

Nutshelled: descendants of humans who’d left Earth 1500 years before find that their ‘mother’ planet isn’t there. Vanished. With the help of aliens, they search for Earth but are the aliens really helping or are they to blame?

Extract from chapter 22.

Opi is an imaginary friend of part-human, Adah, but she became real and looks after a new life form, the keeps. She is on Earth releasing keeps into suitable ecosystems.

Opi’s head hurt. A throbbing behind her eyes with agonising stabbing pains at the back of her cranium. Was this what real people meant by a headache? She rarely experienced pain of any kind being careful and with a different neural system to

most others. Ling and Gard were the same except they’d both broken limbs from their more experimental existences. Climbing trees to stupid heights then seeing how much the branches would bend.

She wasn’t sure if she should open her eyes. Would the light hurt her even more? But the fact she felt pain meant she was still alive. She knew she was blacking out with her face under water, but now…she tried to wriggle her hands and feet but something stopped them moving. Was she now paralyzed?

She opened her eyes a little but couldn’t see more than a fuzzy brown foreground and blueish mist overhead. Great fathers…the mud. She clamped her eyes shut and tried again to move her limbs. Her hands still fastened in front of her. Maybe her fingers wriggled a little.

Perhaps her vision would clear if she squeezed shut her eyes first, and that was what she did before springing them wide open. It worked in that she had vision but unclear as if mud had worked beneath her eyelids.

“CAN. You hear me? I am in the dirt. Buried up to my neck!” Tears blocked her sight and wouldn’t stop.

Was this a form of execution for spies in this African country? Hopefully, it was more a softening up torture to destroy any resistance she might have had. That might work, but she didn’t think so. Not that she’d had any experience of torture other than in play with Adah, Ling and Gard.

She tried to move her legs.




Toes. Maybe just a little. Her fingers nearly flexed. It wasn’t compacted soil. More a sandy loam. Please not a quicksand.

Kepler’s devil, she couldn’t tell if she’d been stripped before being interred. Or violated. It was a sensory-deprivation experience with built-in terror. Not that her coverall would be the same after this even though it was a sandy colour to start with. A sudden surge of acid rose into her mouth when she couldn’t tell if her attackers had cut off her long platinum hair. Her pride and no doubt a valuable asset to bandits. She swallowed the bile and told herself she could grow it again. She couldn’t tell if her armPad was still attached.

No response from CAN. Her ears were blocked with soil anyway. Perhaps the inbuilt receiver was damaged.

She tried to think what the locals might do next. She’d read of executions like this on Earth where the exposed head was stoned or ridden over with animals. Ugh. The thought made her shiver, which gave her an idea.

Before she tried to experiment, she thought she saw movement across the dirt, over a grassy area and where seemed to be single-floor buildings. She blinked a few times to clear her eyes. They were sore but now she could see people at least fifty metres away. A smeary vision of a red shirt was poking a finger at the chest of one in black. Her captors. How long did she have?

Back to her idea but quickly. She had unhuman abilities that usually surprised Adah and his family, and herself. She could make her skin transparent, hold her breath for at least an hour, had flexible joints and bones but none of these helped her now. Perhaps she could make herself smaller. Not enough. Bigger. Only by a little. The two things in rapid succession kind of worked. It was a kind of shivering: a vibration. It was working. The soil on the surface performed a dance. Hopefully, the same was happening all over her body. If she was able to keep going for long enough she should be able to wriggle up and out.

Links to buy paperback:

Other links:

Amazon author pages

Tweets: @geoffnelder


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