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The Crack Magazine


Girlfriend On Mars by Deborah Willis

Don’t let the title of Deborah Willis’ debt novel put you off, especially if you’re not a fan in particular of science fiction. Because, at heart, ‘Girlfriend On Mars’ isn’t a science fiction novel: it’s a rom-com, spiced with liberal doses of satire. The gist? We’re in present day Vancouver and Kevin and Amber are a thirty-something couple who have been together since school days. Kevin is a failed screenwriter who works occasionally as an extra, while Amber – who once nearly made the Canadian Olympic gymnastic team but had to pull out through injury – now works as an office receptionist. A good chunk of their income comes from dealing weed, which they grow in their flat. Unbeknownst to Kevin, Amber has applied to go on a reality TV show, which is being funded by Geoff Task – a billionaire tech-bro in the Musk/Zuckerberg mould. The prize? The two winners of the show will be sent to Mars where they will be expected to set up a colony. The drawback? It’s a one-way ticket. When Amber gets through to the televised section of the competition, her relationship with Kevin becomes rockier than an asteroid belt. It’s a gimmicky sort of set up, but it allows Willis free range to expose the manipulative mechanics of reality TV shows. But it’s the sundry strains of long-term relationships that are under the microscope most here, and Willis tackles these with deftness and bags of humour. And, unlike most rom-coms, readers are kept guessing about how this one is going to play out right until the last. RM

Published by Serpent's Tail

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