Everfair is a wonderful neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier.
Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner", King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary utopia for native populations of the Congo, as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.
Nisi Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book, but an educational and inspiring one that will give the listener new insight into an often ignored period of history.
©2016 Nisi Shawl (P)2016 Tantor
"This highly original story blends steampunk and political intrigue in a compelling new view of a dark piece of human history." (Publishers Weekly)
The diversity of characters is refreshing. Different races, physical abilities and sexual identities are included effortlessly. However, the book spans so much time and touches on so much complex history that the story arcs of the characters were lacking and left me frustrated. Perhaps it would do well as a screenplay. Overall, I support the novel and author for presenting such a meaningful concept.
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