Title: Circus Escape
Collection: A Loose Screw/Mecha Mania
Author: Lilliana Rose
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication date: April 2nd 2014
Page Count: 60 pages
Age Rating: New Adult And Up (one vague blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sexual innuendo)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: Circus Escape
Nessie dreams of escaping her sheltered life to become a mechanical engineer with mechas. But wanting and doing are two very different things, and outer confidence hides inner fears—until she meets Joy.
Joy is tough and self-reliant, used to looking out for no one but herself. As her job keeps her always on the move, keeping to herself is the best way to survive. The very last person she expects to break her solitude is the prim and proper Nessie.
If you’re a fan of the much loved, but under-appreciated, TV show Firefly (and its companion movie Serenity), you’ll probably enjoy this short story. It’s got the same kind of wild-west-meets-space-age Steampunk vibe going on with a whole lot of robot-vs-robot thrown in. Nessie is a proper young lady with a strong fascination for mecha (manually operated Steampunk robots). Joy is an anything-but-proper young woman who lives, breathes, and works with mecha everyday. The two share a fascination with mecha – and with each other. When Nessie comes to see a battle Joy’s mecha Sally Spider is fighting in, circumstances come to a head that will either ruin both their lives, or entwines their lives in ways they both didn’t even dare hope for.
The romance between Nessie and Joy is sweet, but all very surface level. They only share a sweet kiss or two, but they have an obvious connection and it’s a start to what may be a great relationship. And that’s where we get to the downside of this short story – it all felt like a start. This would make an awesome prequel (I would read it if the author decided to write a longer novel based on this), but I didn’t feel like there was any solid meat here as a standalone. It’s a quick and light story with the potential to be so much more. The deus ex machina ending wasn’t doing it any favors either.
All and all, lovers of Firefly, robot battles, and Steampunk may want to give this one a peak and I will cross my fingers that the author will take the potential present in this short story as a jumping off point for what may be a very interesting full length novel (or at least a novella).
Circus Escape really brought on the Firefly flashbacks for me (it’s my favorite show of all time and I will ship Mal and Inara until my dying breath) and Joy totally reminded me of another lovable female mechanic wonder – Kaylee (played by Jewel Staite). Since this made me totally adore Joy, and because Almond Joy is my favorite candy bar of all time and I’m having a pique of nostalgia, I’m recommending Jelks Coffee Roasters Its A Joy Flavored Coffee – a coffee flavored with the milk chocolate, almonds, and coconut from my favorite childhood treat.