I can’t remember the last time I read a steampunk novel, but I always knew I would be reading Nisi Shawl’s Everfair as soon as it came out. A what-if take on the outcome of the colonization of Africa and the enslavement and brutalization enacted upon the people of the Congo, Everfair uses steampunk not as a shiny gloss, but as an integral mechanism powering her alternate history in which the existence of the Belgian Congo takes a markedly different turn for the better.
Catherynne M. Valente is one of my favorite authors. The quality of her prose is consistently draw-dropping. Her stories are fantastical, miraculous creations that deconstruct narratives and characters and genres at every turn, and push the reader’s imaginations far beyond what they thought was possible. Valente’s stories are filled with humor, warmth, and amusement at humanity’s foibles and society’s eccentricities, be they benign or malignant, and they are filled to the brim with imagination.