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NEW RELEASE: The Circus Infinite – Khan Wong

The Circus Infinite - Khan Wong

QSFer Khan Wong has a new queer space opera out (ace, bi, gay, poly, trans mtf): The Circus Infinite.

A circus takes down a crime-boss on the galaxy’s infamous pleasure moon.

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Misfit Fits In | Crime Never Pays | Loop The Loops | Balancing Act ]

Warnings: Scenes of violence, torture, drug use.

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“This is so exciting!” Esmée says, clasping her hands together.

“Aren’t you so excited?”

Jes nods. He’s looking forward to the show but isn’t overflowing with exuberance the way Esmée is. He holds Bo’s hand. “Can I kiss your cheek?” Bo asks.

Jes nods his consent and his heart races as Bo leans in and gives him a quick peck.

“Can I kiss your hand?”

Jes nods again and Bo lifts their joined hands up to his face and kisses the back of Jes’s. His lips are soft. Though Jes doesn’t have sexual feelings, he has come to appreciate such bits of physical affection from Bo. He and Esmée greet each other with kisses on the cheek in the Asuna tradition, and these are fine too. She understands that this show of affection, simple and even trivial to her, can be triggering to him, and she appreciates that he allows this intimacy between them. Quint sometimes pats him on the back or places one of his big hands on his shoulder when offering reassurance, and this too he’s come to appreciate.

Although he’s always understood it intellectually, he’s slowly come to embody the understanding that physical affection isn’t inherently sexual, and he wonders how it is that he’s come to be OK with it, at least with people he’s close to.

Then he realizes – he’s never really felt close to anyone before except his grandparents. That he can accept physical affection from his friends is a sign, to him, just how safe and close he feels with them.

The lights dim and the crowd erupts with cheers and everyone leaps to their feet. Jes jumps up too, grateful to be diverted from going down a rabbit-hole of rumination at the big show. The surge of emotion from the thousands in attendance is a rush and he closes his eyes for a moment to block himself off. He isn’t able to close it off completely, but manages to dial it down so that the feeling doesn’t blow his mental and emotional circuits. He’s glad he chose to remain sober for this.

The first pulses of drum and bass fill the air and shake the stadium. Pink lasers shoot out into the crowd as colored lights fan across the backdrop of the stage. A tiny figure rises up from below the stage and everyone roars their welcome. The tiny figure waves, then a massive hologram flickers to life and the crowd goes wild some more. It’s her: Jasmine Jonah magnified in a 40-foot high column of light. The hologram is live, and does whatever Jasmine does. She smiles brightly. “Port Ruby,” she drawls and the crowd cheers. “The people of a pleasure moon surely must know how to have fun. So let’s do it!”

More roaring. Jes, caught up in the moment, roars too, and his voice joins that of everyone else in the place. The rest of the band kicks in and Jasmine begins to sing, her voice sultry, the melodic hook of the song undeniable. Jes moves to the music, feeling it insinuate itself inside him. He dances; they all dance.

Song after song unfurls, mostly up tempo tunes that get the crowd moving and sweaty, with a couple of ballads in the mix. He marvels at the spectacle: not just the performance – though that is impressive. Jasmine’s voice goes from low and sultry to high and breathy as the song calls for; her range is impressive and her tone unique and strong. She’s a dynamic, magnetic presence and Jes finds himself focusing more on the small figure dressed in spangles on the stage rather than the hologram of her. But the spectacle that captivates him even more is this multi-species audience who knows every word, dancing together, singing together. He’s part of a larger entity, this whole collection of bodies and minds connected by this shared love for and shared experience of the music.

Most of the songs are sung in Ninespeak, but occasionally she does a song in Bezti or Rijalic and these draw special appreciation from people in the audience of those specific backgrounds. In the moments when the stage lights go dark, he can spot the heads of Bezans, faint clouds of colored light scattered throughout the stadium, bobbing along. He doesn’t have the Mantodean gift of seeing the Weave of spacetime, but what he does see heartens him. Different species of people with contentious histories among them, different ways of being in the universe, but here, in the container of this hybrid girl’s adventurous music, for this moment, they’re one.

Author Bio

In past chapters of life, Khan has published poetry and played cello in an earnest folk-rock duo. As an internationally known hula hoop teacher and performer, he’s toured with a circus, taught workshops all over the world, and produced circus arts shows in San Francisco. He’s worked in the nonprofit arts for many years, most recently as an arts funder for a public sector grantmaking agency.

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