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.
Charles G. Finney (1905–1984) was an American fantasy novelist and newspaperman. His full name was Charles Grandison Finney, evidently in honor of the famous evangelist.
Finney was born in Sedalia, Missouri and served in China with the United States Army's 15th Infantry Regiment (E Company) 1927–1929. In his memoirs, he notes that his first novel (and most famous book) The Circus of Dr. Lao was conceived in Tientsin in 1929. After the Army, he worked for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Arizona, 1930–1970, as an editor.
Various of Finney's papers, with correspondence and photographs, are collected at the University of Arizona Main Library Special Collections, Collection Number: AZ 024, Papers of Charles ... (more)