CYBER CIRCUS by KIM LAKIN-SMITH
PB, 172 pages, NewCon Press
The Cyber Circus is coming to town, and it’s not like any circus you’ve seen before, a great floating sentient dirigible populated with freaks and broken humans, clinging to the fringes of their ruined society as much as they cling to the soft skirts of the circus that protects and houses them. Cyber Circus rides high above Sore Earth, a barren dustbowl crawling with pimps, hustlers, locusts, Zen Monks, cyborgs and Blood Worms, who will cut you up and rewire you for a fistful of cash.
Hellequin, on the run from his own past and the future inevitable madness caused by his cybernetic implants, finds shelter within the walls of Cyber Circus when he saves the resident neonized burlesque dancer, Nim, from being kidnapped by her former pimp, D’Angelo. But D’Angelo doesn’t give up easily, and what results is a chase across the skies and down into the belly of the ruined landscape of Sore Earth, where the circus and her crew must fight for their lives and pitch all their varied resources against an implacable enemy.
Every character who rides with the Circus, from Rust the Wolf Girl to her pig-hearted lover to the wonderful Asenath who collects the heads of her fallen enemies, is fully fleshed out with intriguing back stories that are gradually revealed over the course of this short novel. It seems hard to credit that so much plot is packed into such a slim volume, especially as Lakin-Smith also manages to tell us a lot about the history of the desolate Sore Earth and the races (species?) that inhabit it. It’s incredibly economical story telling, and while not a word is wasted the writing is so intricate, so intriguing, that the power of her words alone is enough to draw the reader in.
I can imagine a wealth of stories set in the deserts and caverns of the broken Sore Earth, I know Kim Lakin-Smith has written at least one more which is included in some versions of Cyber Circus (but sadly not in mine.) I hope she writes some more, having read and digested the book I want to run away with this particular circus all over again…