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Unveiling a Parallel, A Romance
Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 130
Publication Date: 1893
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Unveiling a Parallel: A Romance, is a feminist science fiction and utopian novel published in 1893. The unnamed narrator, a man, arrives at Mars after a flight by 'aeroplane.' Mars is much like Earth, and inhabited by Earth-like flora and fauna. Where it differs is in the social roles of the genders. Women occupy a place of equality; they have their own social clubs, take lovers, have children out of wedlock, and can even propose marriage to men. In the second part of the narrative, set in another country on Mars, the protagonist gets to meet a Christ-like 'Teacher,' and compare religion on both planets.
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“A new person is to me always a great event, and
hinders me from sleep.”
You know how certain kinds of music will beat everything out of your consciousness except a wild delirium of joy; how love of a woman will take up every cranny of space in your being,—and fill the universe beside,—so that people who are not en rapport with the strains that delight you, or with the beauty that enthralls you, seem pitiable creatures, not in touch with the Divine Harmony, with Supreme Loveliness.
So it was with me, when I set my feet on Mars! My soul leaped to its highest altitude and I had but one vast thought,—“I have triumphed; I am here! And I am alone; Earth is unconscious of the glory that is mine!”
I shall not weary you with an account of my voyage, since you are more interested in the story of my sojourn on the red planet than in the manner of my getting there. It is not literally red, by the way; that which makes it appear so at this distance is its atmosphere,—its “sky,”—which is of a soft roseate color, instead of being blue like ours. It is as beautiful as a blush.
I will just say, that the time consumed in making the journey was incredibly brief. Having launched my aeroplane on the current of attraction which flows uninterruptedly between this world and that, traveling was as swift as thought. My impression is that my speed was constantly accelerated until I neared my journey’s end, when the planet’s pink envelope interposed its soft resistance to prevent a destructive landing.
I settled down as gently as a dove alights, and the sensation was the most ecstatic I have ever experienced.
When I could distinguish trees, flowers, green fields, streams of water, and people moving about in the streets of a beautiful city, it was as if some hitherto unsuspected chambers of my soul were flung open to let in new tides of feeling.
My coming had been discovered. A college of astronomers in an observatory which stands on an elevation just outside the city, had their great telescope directed toward the Earth,—just as our telescopes were directed to Mars at that time,—and they saw me and made me out when I was yet a great way off.
They were able to determine the exact spot whereon I would land, about a mile distant from the observatory, and repaired thither with all possible speed,—and they have very perfect means of locomotion, superior even to our electrical contrivances.
Before I had time to look about me, I found myself surrounded, and unmistakably friendly hands outheld to welcome me.
There were eight or ten of the astronomers,—some young, some middle-aged, and one or two elderly men. All of them, including the youngest, who had not even the dawn of a beard upon his chin, and the oldest, whose hair was silky white, were strikingly handsome. Their features were extraordinarily mobile and expressive. I never saw a more lively interest manifest on mortal countenances than appeared on theirs, as they bent their glances upon me. But their curiosity was tempered by a dignified courtesy and self-respect.
They spoke, but of course I could not understand their words, though it was easy enough to interpret the tones of their voices, their manner, and their graceful gestures. I set them down for a people who had attained to a high state of culture and good-breeding.
I suddenly felt myself growing faint, for, although I had not fasted long, a journey such as I had just accomplished is exhausting.
Near by stood a beautiful tree on which there was ripe fruit. Some one instantly interpreted the glance I involuntarily directed to it, and plucked a cluster of the large rich berries and gave them to me, first putting one in his own mouth to show me that it was a safe experiment.
While I ate,—I found the fruit exceedingly refreshing,—the company conferred together, and presently one of the younger men approached and took me gently by the arm and walked me away toward the city. The others followed us.
We had not to go farther than the first suburb. My companion, whom they called Severnius, turned into a beautiful park, or grove, in the midst of which stood a superb mansion built of dazzling white stone. His friends waved us farewells with their hands,—we responding in like manner,—and proceeded on down the street.
I learned afterwards that the park was laid out with scientific precision. But the design was intricate, and required study to follow the curves and angles. It seemed to me then like an exquisite mood of nature.
The trees were of rare and beautiful varieties, and the shrubbery of the choicest. The flowers, whose colors could not declare themselves,—it being night,—fulfilled their other delightful function and tinctured the balmy air with sweet odors.
Paths were threaded like white ribbons through the thick greensward.
As we walked toward the mansion, I stopped suddenly to listen to a most musical and familiar and welcome sound,—the plash of water. My companion divined my thought. We turned aside, and a few steps brought us to a marble fountain. It was in the form of a chaste and lovely female figure, from whose chiseled fingers a shower of glittering drops continually poured. Severnius took an alabaster cup from the base of the statue, filled it, and offered me a drink. The water was sparkling and intensely cold, and had the suggestion rather than the fact of sweetness.
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