Everfair

Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (73 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"This highly original story blends steampunk and political intrigue in a compelling new view of a dark piece of human history." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Praise for Nisi Shawl

Nisi, what an amazing journey we the listeners get to embark upon in this story! I'm so glad you wrote it and so glad I could listen to it. The narrator was superb! She was masterful slipping effortlessly from one accent to the next. I hope to hear her again.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More character development, please.

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.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Belgian Congo Steampunk for the Win!

I loved this book. Especially the cat-riding Fwendy. Well-rounded characters, a fascinating historical revision, a beautiful romance or three, lots of action and intrigue and prejudice and idealism, and the perspectives hop between the heads of an engaging, diverse cast. You won't regret buying this one.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A "What If?" that Not Enough of Us Are Asking

I love this alternate history, because it uses people who were part of various political movements of the period, displaced peoples from (at least) three continents, and doesn't blink at the natural conflicts that would arise between them all.

Not enough of us know about the absolute disaster that was King Leopold's occupation of the Congo, who indirectly benefited, and who suffered and died. This story doesn't excuse anyone.

Too many alternate histories take the conceit of dropping in people with our modern-day sensibilities; Nisi Shawl does not do that. She uses Fabians, American Christians, and the original people of the land that the utopian colony (of the title) displace, even as they don't mean to.

I was a bit taken aback by the brief intrusion of some outright fantasy elements, but over the course of the book, these elements can be considered to be in the minds of the characters who believe the fantasy. The steampunk elements were more believable, and added a definite charm. (For those who do know of Leopold's atrocities, it should not come as a surprise that more rapid development of prosthetic limbs should have happened.)

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Excellent Story

An interesting tale set in Africa with a diverse cast of characters. Time well spent.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

I love histories told through the eyes of the participants. This re- imagined history is as complex and messy as real life, full of believable, imperfect characters. I was afraid there would be too many characters, from other reviews, but every life was so inter-woven with the others, I didn't have any trouble keeping track. And I was deeply invested in all their stories, and that of Everfair itself.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Flat writing or reading?

There was something 'flat' about this book. Difficult to continue interest despite an interesting idea.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

When I puchased this book I expected an alternate history with a different take on th Belgian conclicts with indigenous people in the Victorian era. Insread, most of the book seems to be a lesbian romance that dominates the plot. After getting through about 60 percent of the book, I gave up.

1 person found this helpful