The Circus of Dr. Lao

by Charles G. Finney
Release date: 1935
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy

"The Circus of Dr Lao is a fascinating work: a labyrinth of meanings and images that sucks in the imagination, teases it and impishly plays with it. It gives nothing away, but offers much sustenance to those willing to take the risk of stepping into the tents housing its bizarre attractions."Locus Online

Abalone, Arizona, is a sleepy southwestern town whose chief concerns are boredom and surviving the Great Depression. That is, until the circus of Dr. Lao arrives and immensely and irrevocably changes the lives of everyone drawn to its tents.

Expecting a sideshow spectacle, the citizens of Abalone instead confront and learn profound lessons from the mythical made real – a chimera, a Medusa, a talking sphinx, a sea serpent, witches, the Hound of the Hedges, a werewolf, a mermaid, an ancient god, and the elusive, ever-changing Dr. Lao. The circus unfolds, spinning magical, dark strands that ensnare the town's populace: the sea serpent's tale shatters love's illusions; the fortune-teller's shocking pronouncements toll the tedium and secret dread of every person's life; sensual undercurrents pour forth for men and women alike; and the dead walk again.

Dazzling and macabre, literary and philosophical, The Circus of Dr. Lao has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of speculative fiction and influenced such writers as Ray Bradbury. This Bison Frontiers of Imagination edition features a new introduction by noted fantasy writer John Marco and striking illustrations by Boris Artzybasheff from the first edition.

updated 2010-09-07

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