Everfair – A Story of Steampunk and Colonialism Reshaped


Everfair is a critically acclaimed novel that delves into the world of steampunk and presents an alternate history of colonialism. Written by Nisi Shawl, this magnificent piece of literature captivates the reader’s imagination, offering a fresh perspective on African history and the struggles against colonialism.

The Storyline

The story of Everfair transports us to an alternate version of the late 19th century, where a group of idealists purchases land in the African Congo from King Leopold II of Belgium. Their aim is to create a safe haven for Africans and marginalized communities around the world, offering them respite from the oppressive system of colonization.

Unique Blend of Genres

Everfair masterfully combines elements of steampunk, historical fiction, and fantasy. The steampunk aspect is vividly brought to life through the intricate descriptions of steam-powered technology, airships, and clockwork mechanisms. These captivating elements create a fascinating juxtaposition against the grim realities of colonialism.

Praise and Awards

Everfair has garnered significant praise and recognition within the literary community. It was a nominated finalist for the prestigious Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2017. Critics have applauded Shawl’s brilliant storytelling and her ability to weave together complex themes of race, politics, and social justice.

Notable Characters

1. Lisette Toutournier: A French woman who plays a pivotal role in the establishment and development of Everfair. She is fiercely determined and fights for the rights and freedom of those within the settlement.

2. Daisy Albin: An African American missionary who becomes an influential figure within Everfair. Daisy’s compassion and dedication to the well-being of others make her a cherished character among readers.

3. King Mwenda: The Congolese king who sells the land to the group of idealists. King Mwenda’s decision marks the beginning of a new era and showcases the complexities of collaboration and resistance during times of oppression.

Themes Explored

Everfair actively explores various thought-provoking themes, including:

1. Colonialism and Resistance: The novel challenges the traditional narratives surrounding colonization, demonstrating the strength and resilience of those who resisted oppressive forces.

2. Identity and Belonging: The characters in Everfair navigate their sense of self within a society that has been reshaped. The exploration of different cultural backgrounds and their intersectionality creates a rich tapestry of complex identities.

3. Social Justice and Equality: Shawl crafts a narrative that emphasizes the importance of equality and justice, highlighting the power of collective action and unity in the face of adversity.


Everfair stands as a triumph in the realm of alternative historical fiction. Shawl’s ability to intricately merge multiple genres while addressing pressing societal issues is a testament to her unparalleled skill as a writer. Through its compelling storyline and dynamic characters, Everfair shines a light on the importance of justice, resistance, and the reclaiming of history.

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