Thursday, September 19, 2019

Five fantasy books steeped in history

Jennifer Giesbrecht's debut novel is The Monster of Elendhaven.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy books steeped in history, including:
Everfair—Nisi Shawl

Everfair is a work of Steampunk-tinged alternative history that imagines a group of socialists and African-American missionaries buying a slice of the Belgium Congo out from under the genocidal grip of King Leopold II. Then it follows the evolution of this new proto-Utopia over the course of nearly three decades, using a “longue durĂ©e” narrative device that touches on a broad multiplicity of perspectives at every level of society. In many ways, the novel is more that “meaningful historiographical discourse” I was talking about in the introduction than it is fiction. Understanding the way Steampunk is utilized in this story is like getting a high-speed crash course in how the study of history rapidly changed in the 20th century, from something that was understood on an unspoken level to have a culturally edifying, propagandic purpose, to the multi-faceted, deconstructive school of thought it is today. Steampunk first gained popularity as a highly romanticized view of the Victorian Era, but was quickly co-opted and intelligently deconstructed through the lens of post-colonialism and third-worldism by non-white authors. Everfair goes for the jugular by derailing one of the most horrific tragedies of late colonialism. It’s a beautiful example of how fantasy can reveal just as much about where humanity has been, where we can go, and what we can be as the very best science fiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Everfair is among Kate Heartfield's five books featuring women in love with women and Ginn Hale's five top alternate histories that embrace diversity.

--Marshal Zeringue