Alternate History: The Congo Goes Steampunk

Seattle novelist Nisi Shawl’s engrossing “Everfair” uses the genre of steampunk to re-imagine the horrific history of King Leopold II and the Congo Free State, with a more hopeful outcome.

Shawl’s novel diverges from the historical record when members of the socialist Fabian Society in Great Britain ally themselves with African-American missionaries to purchase from Leopold a territory to be christened “Everfair.” The land is to serve as a utopian safe haven for refugees and former slaves returning from the U.S. Unfortunately, Leopold’s thugs have other ideas, as does Mwenda, the native king of the land.

“Everfair” is a big, complex and engrossing saga, broad in ambition and deep in accomplishment. The time period stretches 30 years, from 1889 to 1919, with each chapter representing a jump of a few days or a few years, lending the story a grand sense of the sweep of history.

The narrative is presented from a variety of viewpoints, including that of an African-American missionary horrified by atrocities he witnesses, a young African refugee able to project her consciousness into animals, and an East Asian engineer capable of inventing machines that will change the world.

https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/everfair-a-grand-diverse-steampunk-story/

Interviews with Nisi Shawl:
https://www.apex-magazine.com/interview-with-nisi-shawl/
https://www.thebooksmugglers.com/2016/09/sff-conversation-nisi-shawl-everfair.html

Reviews:
https://boingboing.net/2016/10/26/everfair-a-diverse-ambitious.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/everfair-a-fantastical-utopia-amid-king-leopolds-hell/2016/08/31/71e12664-6fbb-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html?utm_term=.2a05ec75a944
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/labors-of-hope-and-liberation-nisi-shawls-steamfunk-novel-everfair/#!
More:
www.nisishawl.com

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