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The Coming Race

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Book Overview: 

The Coming Race drew heavily on his interest in the occult and contributed to the birth of the science fiction genre. Unquestionably, its story of a subterranean race of men waiting to reclaim the surface is one of the first science fiction novels. The novel centers on a young, independently wealthy traveler (the narrator), who accidentally finds his way into a subterranean world occupied by beings who seem to resemble angels, who call themselves Vril-ya. The hero soon discovers that they are descendants of an antediluvian civilization who live in networks of subterranean caverns linked by tunnels. The narrator suggests that in time, the Vril-ya will run out of habitable spaces underground and will start claiming the surface of the earth, destroying mankind in the process, if necessary.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .By this agency they rend way through the most solid substances, and open valleys for culture through the rocks of their subterranean wilderness. From it they extract the light which supplies their lamps, finding it steadier, softer, and healthier than the other inflammable materials they had formerly used.

But the effects of the alleged discovery of the means to direct the more terrible force of vril were chiefly remarkable in their influence upon social polity. As these effects became familiarly known and skillfully administered, war between the vril-discoverers ceased, for they brought the art of destruction to such perfection as to annul all superiority in numbers, discipline, or military skill. The fire lodged in the hollow of a rod directed by the hand of a child could shatter the strongest fortress, or cleave its burning way from the van to the rear of an embattled host. If army met army, and both had command of this agency, it could be but to the annihil. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Written in the 1870s its easy to see how this was such a big influence on science fiction, fantasy, hollow earth theorists, utopiaists, occultists and Eugenicists. Two men go exploring underground in a mining area, one dies in a fall and the other happens upon an underground civilization and it goes

A travel guide to realms we can never visit, a vehicle for some truly unsubtle sort of satire. Very little in terms of characterization or actual story.

There weren't a lot of science fiction stories way back when, I guess, but now that we have a lot to choose from, I can't say this one has aged too

If you live in the UK, you may have tasted Bovril, a popular yeast and beef extract paste used as cooking stock. Obviously, part of the name comes from "bovine" or the Latin word for beef, which is "bos," but I didn't know that "vril" originated entirely from a work of science fiction--namely from t

An important book in the history of Science Fiction

If you are interested in the development of Science Fiction this mid-Victorian novel is essential reading. Everyone else may find it less enthralling. Bulwer-Lytton is notorious for his convoluted prose but this book is written in quite simple langu

Elements of this book were used to create a nazi cult to which most of the top nazis's were members. But thats not the authors fault, except that he wrote something way ahead of its time. I mean consider the fact that it was written in 1871 and at times i felt like i was watching an episode of start

In commencement of this recapitulation, it must be documented by he who is myself that the creator of this compendium takes no thrift in the utilization of glosses, and is in fact quite bombastic in literary usage.
Seriously, the guy must've been paid by the number of times the editor had to search t

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, was one of the big guns of Victorian literature. His books were bestsellers and he garnered considerable critical acclaim as well. And yet today he is not merely mostly unread, he has become a byword by bad writing, with a literary competit

Cool scientific concepts, but ultimately a boring book. I think I only got through it this fast because I was listening to the audio book. I definitely didn't hate it, and I became more interested toward the end, but it didn't have enough of a plot to warrant a higher rating.

I read this book because of its connections with Esoteric Hitlerism, Ariosophy and Theosophy (vril, hollow earth and such). I know that some Theosophists believe this book is actually true. I cannot agree. It seems obvious to me, for a multitude of reasons, that it is pure fiction. Bulwer-Lytton was

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