An obscure book first published in New Zealand in 1881 and republished last month, is being called as significant as Pride and Prejudice.
The Great Romance deals with "ground-breaking" themes such as interplanetary colonisation by humankind, sexual relations with aliens and the problems of space flight _ including space shuttles, spacesuits and air locks _ academics and reviewers say.
Written by an anonymous author who used the pseudonym "The Inhabitant", the novella was published as two separate volumes.
The first comprised 55 pages, the only known original of which is held in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.
The second instalment is just 39 pages.
The Los Angeles Times reviewer Ed Park described it as a "slim, oddly proportioned book, a hybrid of utopian and space exploration narratives that reaches out to grasp the reader's hand, unexpectedly and vigorously, from the equally remote milieu of late 19th-century New Zealand".
"The unfinished masterpiece is as strong a myth as literature holds," he wrote.
Publishers Weekly claimed: "This may have been the first time that anyone described space suits, air locks or the difficulties of landing on an asteroid or entering a planetary atmosphere.
"This reprint will be of considerable interest to specialist scholars of science fiction, if not the casual reader."
Now you betcha on that!! The pity - that we will probably never know for certain just who was "The Inhabitant".