In Shawl's eloquently explored vision, told by a multiplicity of voices that have historicall ...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. It takes place in a beautifully unique setting chronicling the formation and history of the fictional country Everfair. Although it’s shorter 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 diff ...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
So What’s It About?
Everfair is a steampunk alternative history of the Belgian Congo in which Fabian socialists and black American missionaries band together to buy land from King Leopold and establish their own colony, meant to be a utopia and haven for their own people as well as the native people of the Congo who flee Belgian enslavement and violence. They band together with a local king to fight against Leopold’s atrocities, and ...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
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
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
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
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
Everfair by Nisi Shawl is an alternate history that approaches utopia honestly by ...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
CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ slavery, ageism, racism, homophobia, torture/body horror, loss of a child, loss of a loved one, diaspora. (hide spoiler)]
Things to love:
-Honesty of the exercise. There isn't really more plot than the author's attempt to envision what it would take to form and continue a society of people without human violations, in a time when white supremacy was even ...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
This line was my favorite, taken not from the novel but from the first line of her Acknowledgements:
"Writing is a solitary act that expresses the genius of a communit ...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
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
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
However, I was very bored. This is not the fault of the book necessarily. If you like stories that cover decades and very broad scale changes, this is an excellent book. I am an impatient reader and t ...more
The multiple perspectives and general, planning a city without problems, ideas were good but none of it was compelling enough for me. I was unable to attach to any of them and there wasn't much of a story. ...more
That's not what I consider a flaw, by the way; I appreciate a book that goes full s ...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
|Cannonball Readers: Which books haven't lived up to your expectations?||1||7||Jan 20, 2022 09:55AM|
|SciFi and Fantasy...: "Everfair" Discuss Everything *Spoilers*||22||64||May 17, 2021 08:45PM|
|SciFi and Fantasy...: "Everfair" First Impressions *No Spoilers*||28||120||May 17, 2021 07:57PM|
|Joseph Beth Sci-F...: Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Monday, August 27, 7-8 pm in the Brontë Bistro||1||12||Jun 26, 2018 09:07AM|