Image of Everfair: A Novel


Image of Everfair: A Novel

The strongest choice Shawl made here is to make Everfair (both country and book) not a simple fantasy of how things could have been better or how steampunk-style advances could have defeated one of the worst tyrants in African history, but instead a moving and nuanced depiction of how even those with the best intentions have their own blind spots. Even something as wonderful as Everfair is still created and maintained through the efforts of flawed people. Nothing here comes easy, which makes the victories (military, social or emotional) even sweeter. The multiplicity of viewpoints (from a commendably broad range of people) and confident progression through the decades gives this something close to the sweep and charge of real history.

The socialist Fabian Society in England has long wanted to found a country on its own humanistic principles. Now, as the Victorian era draws to a close, the greed and horror of Leopold II of Belgium’s exploits in the Congo have given them their chance. Now a mix of English socialists, freed slaves from America and Macao, and those who can be freed from Leopold’s camps have established Everfair. The beginning of the 20th century will see triumph and tragedy for the new country, as fantastic technological advances and radical political ideas fight against the forces that in our real world led to the tragedies of the Congo Free State and World War I. (TOR, Sep., 384 pp., $26.99)

Reviewed by: 
Ian Mathers