New Con Press, 2011
Review by Pornokitsch
Kim Lakin-Smith’s Cyber Circus (2011) follows the adventures and misadventures – of the titular circus. A group of performers in a flying dieselpunk machine bound from one post-apocalyptic town to another, barely eking out a living. The setting is a dust-choked, war-torn version of the United States, with only a few hollow reminders of our own reality.
Cyber Circus is only the latest of the 2011 books that investigate the idea of exceptionalism using genre fiction. Al Ewing’s Gods of Manhattan is a contemporary steampunk look at pulp heroes. Mark Charan Newton‘s The Book of Transformations explores the failure inherent in the very concept of “superheroism”. Cyber Circus belongs in their number – a darkly poetic examination of what it means to be something other than human.
The key difference between Cyber Circus and the other two is that it explores not superheroism but subhumanism. The book is packed with a wild cast of characters, all of whom have been lessened in some way; physically or mentally, they’ve had something taken from them or been altered into something deplorably specialised. The genre-typical fantasy tale explores the idea of identity by following a character’s search for their own pre-determined greatness. Cyber Circus is the reverse – a quest for acceptance, as undertaken by a true group of misfits. Continue reading