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Everfair: A Novel – tekijä: Nisi Shawl
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Everfair: A Novel (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2016; vuoden 2016 painos)

– tekijä: Nisi Shawl (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4952437,610 (3.42)18
What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonisation of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier? 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 Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated. Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvellous 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.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:AltheaAnn
Teoksen nimi:Everfair: A Novel
Kirjailijat:Nisi Shawl (Tekijä)
Info:Tor Books (2016), 384 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:to-read

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

Everfair (tekijä: Nisi Shawl) (2016)

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» Katso myös 18 mainintaa

Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 24) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Abandoned at the halfway point. I love the idea of the central premise but too many incoherently portrayed characters make it so I cannot force myself to turn another page. Reading through other online reviews I see I am not the only one with this reaction. ( )
  ScoLgo | Apr 30, 2021 |
I was very disappointed with this book. The only reason I finished it is because I had it as an audiobook and automatically listened whenever I was walking my dogs. I'm pleased to say Alyson Johnson does a masterful job of reading the book but it's hard to elicit excitement in tense scenes that are bogged down with useless details and characters I was never invested in.

Basically the premise is brilliant and exciting, but the delivery is dull.

Steampunk? Mmm, sure there are steampunk elements, and at times they even come to the forefront, but overall the steampunk aspect was not interesting or exciting, and this despite one POV character having a literal kink over machines. And steampunk authors, can we agree to use real words? If you are going to say bicycle, car, dirigible, etc, then let's call a watch a watch. A "repeater" is a gun and I was often confused by characters checking their guns, only to realize they were checking the time.

POV: so many POVs. Too many. One of three things happened in each POV scene - I was bored/it was unnecessary, it cut away just as it was getting interesting, or the interesting part climaxed and then I listened through a boring petering out of the scene into trivial moments.

Characters: too many POV characters, poorly fleshed out such that I was invested in maybe 2 out of what felt like dozens.

Structure: years pass between scenes, huge, actually interesting events happen in the background, and then the reader struggles to sort through what's going on. With so many POV one would think a lot of exciting things would happen, but this book seems to focus more on the ground level banalities of building a country. I personally think the lives of country builders can be interesting despite the slow toil (Hamilton has recently proven that) but the tone of this book is dull and overfull with pointless details that drag it to a crawl. Chopping half the view points and half the scenes might have made the book sleeker and more interesting. I looked up the author and she appears to be well known for short stories. The piecemeal structure of the book does make me wonder if the author's strength lies in shorter fiction and I am interested in reading her short stories.

Characters: as I said, too many. Too many POV. Get a tiny bit invested only to be yanked to another scene and come back months or years later to try to reestablish some rapport.

Relationships: whoo. Um, for a book with multiple queer and mixed race relationships, I was really unhappy with nearly all of them. Usually avoiding the white, cishet couple relationships sets you up for my overwhelming joy. Nope. A complete lack of communication kept one couple apart nearly the whole book. Nearly all relationships had huge age gaps of decades. (Hi there author's kink - what's up?) A character died to elicit man pain, only for the angsting character to later creepily propose to a sister off screen. Didn't outright hate any of them, just found them eye brow raising and couldn't invest. Lots of polygamy, which, whatever, but hey, funny how polygamy is always one man and lots of wives. Weird... After much review I liked maybe one relationship, but the constant reference to "favorite wife" annoyed me even within that relationship. She was awesome and should have had 10 husbands and taken over the country.

History: well, it is an alt-hist. If you're unaware of what was going on at the time in our history you are going to be confused. I do love, love, love the premise, but as I said, the execution left me cold.

Right to the bitter end I would be happy about some resolution, then the writing would go on too long, slow, and dull and I would end up bored again. If you want an alt-hist that doesn't take place in Europe (for the majority) , and has some steampunk, some religion, and some fantasy elements, ta da! But, it's still very Euro-centric (they're fighting with Europe in one way or another the whole time.) Of course, Europe sticks their nose in everything, so you really can't avoid them in a lot of alt-histories based on recent times. ( )
  lclclauren | Sep 12, 2020 |
I wanted to like this story so much. Unfortunately, it is a little too unfocused for me to ever get engaged. The book covers 30 years of the alternate history country of Everfair (located in the Congo). It's extensively researched, and contains evocative descriptions of cultural items and technology. There are over a dozen viewpoint characters, each of which is fleshed out with their own personalities and goals.

All great, right? Unfortunately this book is only 381 pages long and there is just not enough room for everything. The plot moves at dizzying speed, and the characters start to get confusing (and I say this as someone who likes ensemble casts). I think this book has so much potential, but would have really benefitted from being at least three times as long, or only having 1-3 viewpoint characters. ( )
  Rachel_Hultz | Aug 15, 2020 |
Unfortunately, this is a book full of flaws, but underlying all of those flaws is also a book I really, really want to appreciate.

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, tackling head-on the issues of both racism and nationalism sometimes together and other times in stark contrast. Again, quite beautiful and quite exhaustively characterized, developed, and world-built. We've got a historian on board as well as someone firmly rooted in speculation in the author.

So what's wrong? Maybe it's just my poor brain, or perhaps it's just that the ambition is greater than the execution. I don't mind that we've got decades'-worth of world-building going on. I don't *theoretically* mind that we've got a literal ARMY of PoV characters.

I do mind when that army of PoV characters don't grab me emotionally, or I should say, some do, some don't.

I do mind when a lot of time passes and motivations change and we as readers are left in the lurch. Such things can happen off-page and can be quite interesting if we're either scholars pouring through the text OR we've been following a very limited cast over a long time, giving us the emotional investment to CARE why they change their minds. Unfortunately, I wasn't given either the investment or the pre-existing knowledge of the Congo's history or possible mitigating factors. It was left out of the book.

Are these deal-breakers? Not at all. The overriding sense of the nation is clear and I love the available kinds of interactions with America and the kinds of cross-cultural exchanges, learning, and even religious meshes that have developed over time.

All-in-all, it's a book worth appreciating... from afar. After the fact. As a purely intellectual exercise. My heart never quite got into it... and that's a shame because I wanted it to. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Oof.

Longer review later this week when I feel like I can do this book justice.

Thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the review copy. ( )
  allison_s | May 25, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 24) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä

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Nisi Shawlensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetcalculated
Ngai, VictoKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
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Look for a long time at that which pleases you, and a longer time at that which gives you pain. —Colette
Omistuskirjoitus
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For Octavia, who knew this way would come
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonisation of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier? 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 Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated. Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvellous 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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