A Roadmap to a Future I Can Believe In: Everything For Everyone by M.E. O’Brien & Eman Abdelhadi

Posted 17th December 2022 by Sia in Crescent Classics, Queer Lit, Reviews, Sci-Fi Reviews / 0 Comments

Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 by Eman Abdelhadi, M.E. O’Brien
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: QBIPOC cast
PoV: First-person, past-tense, multiple PoVs

By the middle of the twenty-first century, war, famine, economic collapse, and climate catastrophe had toppled the world's governments. In the 2050s, the insurrections reached the nerve center of global capitalism—New York City. This book, a collection of interviews with the people who made the revolution, was published to mark the twentieth anniversary of the New York Commune, a radically new social order forged in the ashes of capitalist collapse.

Here is the insurrection in the words of the people who made it, a cast as diverse as the city itself. Nurses, sex workers, antifascist militants, and survivors of all stripes recall the collapse of life as they knew it and the emergence of a collective alternative. Their stories, delivered in deeply human fashion, together outline how ordinary people's efforts to survive in the face of crisis contain the seeds of a new world.


~sex workers start the revolution
~DJs keep it going
~think communism like ‘commune’ not ‘communist’
~a detailed breakdown of breaking down the system
~a future I can believe in

This is a book I need everyone to know about.

The ‘conceit’ is this: after decades of climate disaster, war, and economic collapse, capitalism was torn down, and the way of the commune took its place. No two communes anywhere in the world are identical, but they broadly share the same philosophy: everything for everyone. The world is not perfect, but it’s pretty close in a lot of ways, making it more important than ever that new generations not repeat the mistakes of the past – and understand how their present was made.

Thus, in 2072, O’Brien and Abdelhadi put together a collection of interviews, comprised of the stories of those who were there to burn the old world down, those who were a part of building the new world, and those who reflect on how far they’ve all come and where humanity might yet go.

I don’t use the word inspiring very often, but no other term can do Everything For Everyone justice: reading this book was like coming up for air, a fresh and undiluted draught of bright and bittersweet hope brought to parched lips. And it’s not (just) because the future O’Brien and Abdelhadi envision is so utopic; it’s the fact that they take a real, hard look at what it might take to get us there.

No fiction I’ve ever read has really broken down and examined what The Revolution looks like. Stories always seem to be set before or after the heroes go to war against the old system – sometimes just before, or just after, but the fight itself is always glossed over. And I do understand that! It’s much easier to imagine a better world than it is figuring out how to actually build one – but that’s exactly what makes Everything For Everyone so important.

It’s a detailed roadmap of what the path to one version of a better future might look like, and it’s the first one I’ve ever had.

This book is a real, working shield against despair.

It’s also just objectively brilliant, with an absolutely fascinating cast of characters (the interviewees) and the kind of worldbuilding I delight in, detailed and thought-provoking, with some ideas I’ve seen touched on in SFF before – and plenty I’ve never heard of ever. And although it’s focussed on the New York commune, the book doesn’t forget that the rest of the world exists; the entirety of the second chapter is about the liberation of the Levant, while other chapters cover the situation in China. We get glimpses of Australia and Canada, and the western and central US. That we get to see outside of New York surprised and delighted me, and I’m in awe of how legit each future state felt. It’s clear that Everything For Everyone is the culmination of a ton of thought and research and experience.

The topics of the interviews range from the role of club culture in the revolution to the logistical difficulties of creating a system where everyone’s voices are heard; the evolution of sex work and creation of new family models; the importance of not letting the 1% lay claim to outer space and how biotech might be used to help repair the ecological damage humans have done. None of it is boring, so much of it goes in unexpected (but so very human) directions, and even the painful parts were a joy to read.

And if you’re concerned about it being presented in a dry, textbook kind of style, fear not! Because each chapter takes the form of an interview – and a comfortably informal one, at that – reading Everything For Everyone is like having a series of conversations with some seriously incredible people.

  • Miss Kelly on the sex worker-led ‘insurrection of Hunts Point’
  • Kawkab Hassab on Liberating the Levant
  • Tanya John on the Free Assembly of Crotona Park
  • Belquees Chowdhury on students and workers laying claim to the schools and hospitals
  • Quinn Liu on internments, China, and trauma
  • S Addams on cults and churches
  • Aniyah Reed on the Communization of Outer Space
  • Connor Stephens on Indigenous Americans vs Fascists
  • Latif Timbers on child-bearing and -rearing
  • An Zhou on Ecological Restoration
  • Kayla Puan on growing up in a commune
  • Alkasi Sanchez on the keeping of history and AIs

It makes for much easier and accessible reading than if O’Brien and Abdelhadi had chosen to write their thoughts on the future as a collection of highly technical non-fiction essays or articles – which I’m pretty sure they could have done if they chose; I certainly got the impression that they knew exactly what they were talking about on every topic they covered, well enough to teach it in college if they decided to! There’s a sense of genius imbued in every page, but it’s not patronising or intimidating, just inspiring and hope-full.


I always thought, “I don’t have time for this,” or “I don’t have energy for this.” But then I realised “I don’t have time because of this. I don’t have energy because of this.”

Everything For Everyone hit me so hard it’s taken months and months (it was published back in August!) to put my feelings about it into words, and I don’t think I’ve done the most amazing job of that. It’s just so hard to express how it feels to read something that is such a…a concrete promise that things can be better, and a guide on how to make it better. Something that is close enough to non-fiction that I can actually believe in the future it’s showing me, and feel real hope that we might make it there.

This is one of the under-the-radar best books of 2022 – hells, one of the best books of the decade. Trust me when I say you really, really need to read it.

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