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 So ...more
Ever read a book that you respect more than love? This is that. It's a sprawling, epic, majestic beast of a novel that spans 30 years in a beautifully unique setting chronicling the formation and history of the fictional country Everfair. Although less than 400 pages long, it feels like the page count is 3,000+. It's also serious, intelligent steampunk, who would have thought? I've got to give Nisi Shawl props for ambition alone. And even if it was super difficult to get through (I ...more
Why? Because it's a story of the Belgian Congo under an alternate history banner that strives and reaches for its independence despite atrocity and thanks to technology. No more millions dead in unsung tragedy. Rather, we've got nation building in a rather fresh and ambitious undertaking.
Pretty, no? And the themes and the problems explored is also quite impressive, t ...more
Blending alternate history, steampunk, and fantasy elements as well as tackling difficult social issues (colonization, racism, religious tolerance, and gender intolerance), Everfair sets out to tell an epic story of the Congo from the era of Belgian control (circa 1885) to post-World War I. Featuring a diverse cast, Nisi Shawl crafts her narrative to allow readers to see through the eyes of every one of the characters, as these diverse persons experience import ...more
"At least half the populace disappeared in the period from 1895 to 1908. The area thus devastated was about a quarter of the size of the current continental United States. Millions of people died."It's a story not often told, and all the more important for it. The ...more
'Everfair' is a steampunk-flavored alternate history. The 'what if' moment is: What if, during the horrific regime of Leopold II over the Belgian Congo, a group of free-thinkers/socialists and abolitionists had purchased a large tract of land on which to found a new, utopian state? The country in question is dubbed, 'Everfair,' and the novel follows the course of this social ex ...more
From the early 1890’s through the aftermath of WWI, a group of Europeans, USAmericans, and African refugees from the horrors of Leopold’s Belgian Congo try to establish a semi-utopia in Central Africa in a very slightly steampunk-ish alternate universe. But vague historical details, a cast of far too many, and too much jumping around in time turns what should have been a fascinating re-imagining into a colorful but non-cohesive mess.Oh, what a disappointment! This book sounded so good -- go rea ...more
Everfair tells the story of the Congo being invaded Belgium and beyond, however, in this version of the Congo steam power has been discovered. Boats float in the air, functioning metal mechanical limbs are given to those who have lost limbs to King Leopold's savagery and a group of African Americans and Europeans have moved to the Congo in hope of a new life. We follow these colonists and the native Congolese people they eventually team ...more
Each chapter told of Everfair's founding and maintenance from a different character's perspective (in third person) so it was possible to get a sense of the enormity of th ...more
The alternate history of the Congo was fascinating, and although the steampunk element was more subtle than I was expecting, there was so much going on that I didn't notice. For the huge cast of characters, it's incredible how many get developed arcs.
Also a f ...more
Everfair by Nisi Shawl is an alternate history that approaches utopia honestly by ...more
I gave this 100 pages (105 to be exact). The writing was lovely and I quite *wanted* to like it, but unfortunately I found it boring and lacking in any character I cared about.
Those 100 pages were told through probably half a dozen characters, none of whom stuck with me very well. And there was a very odd structural build to the narrative. We never *saw* anything actually happen on screen. Instead, character A would be standing in the ashes of some raid opining on all that had been lost. Did ...more
It's with some sadness and regret that I have to say upfront... I very much anticipated Everfair, but it ultimately did not reach the potential I thought it had. It has great qualities and some weaknesses, which I will tackle in turn.
In Everfair, Shawl excellently uses steampunk in a new and exciting way. She explores how history might have been different for the Congo if the native people had had access to steam-powered technology, to give them an advantage against the brutal, horrific rule of...more
I am learning more about myself as a reader and I think this book just did not tick my boxes, as it were. I like very fleshed-out characters who engage in real meaningful dialogue that gives me insight into their lives and motivations ...more
When I first heard of this book, I was hesitant to pick it up because the story didn’t seem like something I would be interested in. But I wanted to read all the Nebula nominees this year, so I gave it a shot and read it.
Let me tell you…it was a rough book to get through.
I’ll start off by saying that I have to give credit to Shawl for attempting such a wide-ranging story, a story that spans 1889-1919, all within 381 pages. It was certainly an ambitious goal. It was also ambitious to ...more
"Fabian Socialists from Great Britain 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 Ut...more
The character cast was broad and rather diverse. I was s ...more
Everfair is an alternate history, with the divergent point coming in the late 1800s, when a group of British socialists, American missionaries, and a local king carve a new country out of king Leopold's nightmarish Congo colony. They create Everfair, a multiracial state that lasts into the 20th century.
That description makes the ...more
It's about a utopian society that isn't so cleverly set up as to avoid all problems, but in which people work to find different, practical, solutions.
It's steampunk that feels utterly plausible.
It's a book that acknowledges the tremendous breadth and depth of people and cultures throughout Africa, although it focuses on one nation.
It is a marvelous accomplishment in every sense of the word, and I'm sure it's going ...more
That's not what I consider a flaw, by the way; I appreciate a book that goes full s ...more
We haven't seen much fiction from Shawl in the meantime—she is much more active in other ways, including as an editor, but her own output is relatively sparse. Which is a shame, because her attention to the craft is remarkable—when she does decide to tell us a story, the results a ...more
The settlers of Everfair had come here naïvely at best, arrogantly at worst. Due to the orders of the king they had found the country seemingly empty. In the fight against Leopold, their assistance had been most valuable, and they had also brought to the cause the help of Europeans and Americans who would never otherwise have cared for any African’s plight....more
But by their very presence they poisoned what they sought to save. How co
In Nisi Shawl's newly-formed country of Everfair, you have the polyamorous British socialist Fabian Society, African-American colonists, Chinese defectors, the Congolese kingdom engaged in guerrilla warfare, and a steady stream of Belgian/German/British overlords. Meanwhile, a rap ...more
The story itself covers about three decades worth of alternative history which was thought provoking. There is also many tough issues dealt with within this text. In addition there are a bunch of POV's in this story, a lot of characters ...more
|Joseph Beth Sci-F...: Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Monday, August 27, 7-8 pm in the Brontë Bistro||1||8||Jun 26, 2018 09:07AM|