Secret history on Mars debut novel!, July 25, 2017
By Margaret A. Davis
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This review is from: Another Girl, Another Planet (Kindle Edition)
Secret history wrapped in alternate history. I've been reading alternate history for some time now. I've only recently gotten into secret history with Simon R. Green's Secret Histories (aka Eddie Drood) series. (Secret history has been a longtime category of science fiction, just new to me.)
Another Girl, Another Planet uses an "unreliable narrator" for this alternate history. Where the person relating his story is surprised that anyone might believe his tale and where the person has no explanation for the fact that his story obviously took place in an alternate reality/parallel universe.
As someone who remembers well the 1960's through 1980's, I also definitely enjoyed Mr. Antonelli's use of historical figures (as well as some actual contemporary people) in this novel.
Another Girl, Another Planet is the story of a man sent to Mars in 1985 to be executive assistant to the colonial governor at the joint Soviet-NATO Mars base. Not only was there the joint mission on Mars but there was also a thriving joint Soviet-NATO Moon settlement (complete with several cities).
In this alternate reality, instead of an arms race after WWII the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact nations & the U.S./Western powers had a space race and ended up deciding to go together on both the Moon and later Mars, as a better use of both of their resources. They had even set up a fixed rotation where the base was operated by the Soviets this year and twenty years later NATO would smoothly assume control of the base (until the next fixed turnover). Even if it were NATO's turn to operate the base, both sides had to agree on leadership positions such as the governor & lieutenant governor. That is, if it is NATO's operation, the Soviets must sign off as well on these critical appointees.
This alternate reality had both robots and androids, although both had been banned from Earth and the Moon by the time the story begins. Said robots and, in particular androids, were on Mars to both help construct the colony and also work there as common laborers, maids, waitresses, etc. etc. I enjoy science fiction novels with mixed societies of humans and robots/androids.
Another Girl, Another planet is a good yarn. Good worldbuilding, interesting choices as to how this alternate history was different from our own history, and I enjoyed getting to know the various characters. So far as I know, this is Mr. Antonelli's first novel. His earlier work has been shorter fiction, a lot of them short stories, and most of them secret histories/alternate history as well. Recommended for readers of secret histories/alternate history and Mars!