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 reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.
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"Reading with high energy, a conversational style, and the audiobook's tone of optimism, Allyson Johnson narrates this sprawling alternate history. The story asks a series of what if's. What if the Belgian Congo had not been a scene of slavery and exploitation in the late nineteenth century? And what if the nation instead had become a free and permanent home to refugee Africans from all over the world? That imaginary nation is the Everfair of this novel. Johnson deftly handles the virtual U.N. of character accents--from African and Asian to German and American--while the story is heightened by the fantastic trappings of steampunk: pneumatic machines, giant dirigibles, and prosthetic limbs, for example. A heady mix of history, Edwardian politics, and fantasy. B.P. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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