Jes has amazing gravity-controlling powers. He has been raised in an institution that has been studying his abilities. But the institution has not been kind to him and when he finally sees an opportunity to get away from the institute and off planet, he takes it, not caring where it brings him as long as it is ‘away.’ He finds himself alone and moneyless on a pleasure moon. Making inquiries as to where he might find work, Jes finds himself talking to people at a local circus when there is an accident and some riggers fall from a great height. Jes ‘reaches out’ to control the gravity around them and brings them down safely. He is hired immediately and his talents are used in a variety of ways, including artistically – letting acrobats perform seemingly in mid-air.
Jes enjoys the work and makes very good friends among the performers and crew at the circus. But the circus folks aren’t the only ones who know of Jes’ abilities. A local politician/crime-lord boss learns that there is a bounty for the return of Jes and rather than turn him in, the boss decides to use Jes and his talents (in addition to manipulating gravity, Jes can ‘suss’ a person’s emotions and know if they are telling the truth or not) to put some pressure on his competitors and determine of those in his own organization are faithful to him.
Jes doesn’t like the work he is doing for the boss, and while he draws a line at actually someone, he does use gravity to destroy bodies and and deal some significant damage to people. His fear of being turned over to the institute keeps him in check and under the control of the boss. But when the circus is threatened, Jes knows he has to take some kind of positive action.
I had a lot of fun with this book.
The descriptions of the backstage workings of the circus ring very true and it would appear as though author Khan Wong has had some backstage theatrical/circus experience. While most readers may not have this kind of experience (though a surprising number of scifi/fantasy readers do have theatre experience), a reader can often feel when something doesn’t ring true.
The character of Jes comes across as a bit of a wide-eyed Pollyanna. He doesn’t want to make waves and everything is eye-opening to him. It never occurs to him that he’s actually quite powerful and he could use his power to stop the boss from blackmailing him.
Even Jes’ relationship is like a teenager’s high-affection, little-action relationship. It might be worth noting that the book is considered an LGBTQ book because Jes, identified as male, has a relationship with another character identified as male. But frankly, the relationship is so innocent it hardly needs to be identified as being of a ‘type.’ And if one or more characters is ‘alien’ – does it matter what gender they identify as?
Author Khan Wong does a nice job of balancing the circus world with the criminal underworld and then bringing them together later in the book. We don’t get too in-depth in either world, but Wong’s writing style made reading this easy and fun.
In general, I liked the character of Jes, simple as he appears, and I like the world-building and the circus as his home. This has the makings of a fun series, but Jes does need to grow up, learn more about his abilities as well as those of anyone else who spent time at the institute.
Looking for a good book? The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong is an adventurous, though a little simple, scifi/fantasy that is fun and easy to read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Circus Infinite
author: Khan Wong
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 408 pages