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Anno Domini 2000 - A Woman's Destiny

Anno Domini 2000- A Woman's Destiny (1889) is usually regarded as New Zealand's first science fiction novel. It was written by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel.

Plot summary

The novel describes the exploits of Hilda Fitzherbert, former twenty-three year old Under Secretary for Home Affairs, and then Imperial Prime Minister, in a future where the British Empire has achieved both female suffrage (which New Zealand granted in 1893) and become an Imperial Federation, apart from an independent Ireland, although Sir Reginald Paramatta, a villainous Australian republican, has his eyes set on the abduction and wooing of Miss Fitzherbert. Miss Fitzherbert foils the Republican plans, and then she falls in love with Emperor Albert, the dashing young ruler of the Federated British Empire. Unfortunately, their plans hit a snag when the Emperor refuses the hand of the female US President's daughter, which precipitates an Anglo-American war, which the Empire wins, leading to the dissolution of the United States and its reabsorption into the Empire, and the ensuing marriage of Hilda and the Emperor. Several years later, the Emperor and his Empress find that their opinions about male primacy in royal succession have reversed themselves, when faced with a brilliantly competent princess and bookish, scholarly prince as prospective heirs apparent to the throne.

While there are large slabs of intrusive detail about the intricacies of finance and federal Imperial politics, this work did not sell well initially, although it has attracted posthumous recognition for its uncanny representation of New Zealand's female dominated political, judicial and corporate executive hierarchies in 2000. However, the book lacks any mention of Māori protagonists, despite its other significant innovations. It was reissued in 2001, and the University of Hawaii Press published its first American edition in 2002.

Really the first?

Although usually regarded as New Zealand's first science fiction novel, a case can be made for an earlier work published in two volumes by "The Resident" (believed to be Henry Honnor, a farmer and publican from south Canterbury). This work survives in only one or two copies held by research libraries such as the Hocken Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Editions

  • Sir Julius Vogel: Anno Domini 2000 Or A Woman's Destiny: Auckland: Longman: 1889.
  • Sir Julius Vogel: Anno Domini 2000 Or A Woman's Destiny: Auckland: Exisle: 2001: ISBN 0-908988-16-8
  • Sir Julius Vogel: Anno Domini 2000 Or A Woman's Destiny: Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press: 2002: ISBN 0-8248-2501-2
  • Sir Julius Vogel: Anno Domini 2000 Or A Woman's Destiny: New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. Full text freely available online

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