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Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Everfair

From the publisher:
What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization 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 marvelous 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.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Books of the Wars

From the publisher:
Complete in one volume for the first time: Three novels making up a saga of the distant future, when the Earth and its inhabitants have transformed almost beyond recognition, science has all but become sorcery, and humanity is threatened by creatures out of the past’s darkest legends.

Lords of the Starship: The spaceship Victory was to be seven miles long, a third of a mile in diameter, and have a wingspread of three and a half miles. It would have been a daunting undertaking even for the high-tech civilization that had collapsed centuries ago, but the heroic project had caught the imagination of a decadent nation, becoming an almost religious obsession. But who were the shadowy figures behind the project, and what was the real goal of the herculean project?

Out of the Mouth of the Dragon: The prophets agreed that the world, with its decaying cities and hopelessly corrupt people, was doomed. But then came the call to the final Armageddon, in which the forces of Good and the forces of Evil would meet in the final battle and decide whether Creation would either be renewed or end, like a dying candle flame. And Amon VanRoark knew he must follow that call.

The Siege of Wonder: For centuries, the crumbling civilization built on science had battled the opposing realm of wizardry without victory. Then the Special Office sent Aden, with an electronic eye in place of his own, to plant a spy transmitter in a legendary unicorn, the talisman of the most powerful wizard, to spy upon the highest councils of sorcery itself.

A critically-praised epic trilogy of science and sorcery and the twilight realm between them.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The Bird King

From the publisher:
G. Willow Wilson’s debut novel Alif the Unseen was an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice. Now she delivers The Bird King, a stunning new novel that tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.