By Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, published 1893.
Unveiling A Parallel is billed as a romance. Some might say it is science fiction, as it is set on the planet Mars. Some would call it feminist literature, if the term “feminist” existed in 1893. I describe Unveiling A Parallel as social-science fiction, that just happens to be set on another planet.
Remember as you continue that Unveiling a Parallel was published in 1893. The society in which the protagonist finds himself is still a stratified society, in which there are rich and poor, servants and masters, characteristic of the era in which the story was written.
The reader is not told at any point in the story the protagonist’s name, or how he, comes to be on Mars. The story begins with his arrival on the red planet. It goes on to recount his experiences with the “Marsians” whilst amongst the marsian people.
The Marsian people are humans, who have evolved entirely independently of the humans of our planet Earth. The differences between the peoples are in the intellects and social orders, not in any physical aspect that defined what a human being is.
The traveller’s male pre-conceptions of how a society should function, based on his patriarchal background in a male dominated society, are challenged from soon after his arrival on Mars, as he begins to get to know its people. He finds a egalitarian, equal society where the female of the species is the equal of the male socially and morally, without needing legislation to achieve it.
It is also interesting to see the protagonist’s observations on religion, specifically Christianity, as he begins to come to terms with the “Marsian” society in which he finds himself.
Unveiling A Parallel is not SciFi in the form that readers of such as Asimov, E E Doc Smith or Larry Niven would probably appreciate. It is, to a greater extent, commentary on the differences between societies, that have evolved in different places, under different conditions and traditions.
“You worship the man – the God, if you
will, – instead of that for which he stood.”: – Severnius.