Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Coming Race” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
The Coming Race
Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

The Coming Race

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  601 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Climbing through the recesses of a mine, an English man falls into a deep chasm and finds himself suddenly trapped in a subterranean world inhabited by an ancient race of advanced beings. From Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth to Chris Marker's La Jetee, subterranean worlds have been a source of both fascination and fear for the literary imagination and The ...more
Nook, 130 pages
Published by Rahway, N.J. : Mershon Co. (first published 1871)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Coming Race, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Coming Race

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,482)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
The Coming Race is one of those fabulous Victorian stories in which our intrepid explorer discovers an alien race similar enough to humans to bear comparison, but different in at least one major way. We then get a series of dialogues between the explorer and an alien representative arguing over which is better. Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s fictional world is semi-Utopian; the alien way is more “civilised”, more “advanced”. I can see Nietzsche’s race of Übermenschen peering round the corner.

Some of Bu
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 the thesaurus. Also he got bonuses for every chapter; there's 29 chapters in these 250 pages! Some chapters are actually only a page long.
But the story, is interesting. Man falls underground, meets the
I would recommend this book to those Steampunk aficionados of my acquaintance who wish to emulate the overblown prose of the age of steam. Because DAYUM. This boy never saw a flower but he put some gilding on it.

Enjoyable in its way, it was refreshing for its time, with some nuance - the utopia under the earth is not without price, though I question his reasoning that a peaceful mankind would stop making literature for its own sake, I accept it as I accept that the angelic women of the Vril-ya h
This book was on my must read list, in part, because of its association with Bovril - the suffix of which (-vril) comes from this book where it means a powerful energy source. The plot of the book is that a wealthy young man visits a friend who is a mining engineer and they venture deeper and deeper into the subterranean network of tunnels. At one point they find the entrance into another world and they venture in. This world is inhabited by non-human humanoids who have discovered vril an energy ...more
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 competition for bad writing named after him.

This is partly because he was unwise enough to start one of his stories with the immortal words, “It was a dark and stormy night.” It is also because he was a mast
Tim Pendry
This is a bit of Victorian nonsense of which one can only be grateful that it is relatively short by the period's standards. It is ostensibly the tale of an apparent utopia deep underground.

Like all such efforts, utopia turns out to be a little more dystopian with every passing intelligent thought and the cause of much didactic heavy duty satire on current conditions (those of the 1870s).

Bulwer-Lytton is not a great writer but he has a dry and detached aristocratic sense of humour that makes thi
David Schwan
This is an example of 19th century utopian fiction. I have read several other books in the same genre, this was for the most part not a great example of the genre. The book is quite progressive in its handling of women. This book holds a common belief for its time of the ability to sends thoughts to other people--the root of this belief in this book comes from the advances in electricity.

This book was apparently a great influence in Nazi Germany. The Nazi quest for occult items stems in part fro
Tommy Carlson
For some reason I no longer remember, I decided to read Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race. It's a bit of utopian fiction that came out in 1871. It describes an adventurer stumbling onto an unknown civilization. The protagonist describes the people and society, falls in love with a woman, and attempts to escape when the society endangers him.

Later, I learned of Samuel Butler's Erewhon, published the very next year. It describes an adventurer stumbling onto an unknown civilization. The protag
Greg Paulson
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 probably intrigued by the idea of hollow earth and some other ideas which would end up being connected to Ariosophy and are related to truths but that hardly justifies believing the story is a true a ...more
Read the free ebook edition from Part of a study of "underground city" novels of the 19th C . This one actually may have inspired some of the Myst/Uru details

Reviews of this classic stated that it was meant to give imperialist nations a taste of what it might be like to encounter a civilization very much advanced militarily - and sure that it was as superior to the western cultures as they felt they were superior to 'primitive peoples.' So much so that - if they took an interest i
Verdict: A soporifically dull albeit uniquely demeaning utopian travelogue from the Victorian mind that brought you ‘It was a dark and stormy night’

Though I’ve always had a soft spot for Bulwer-Lytton's infamous opener (on account of the joint influences of L’Engle and Snoopy) I can’t say I went into this with the highest of expectations. I’ve read enough public domain by now to know that Victorian authors can be a mixed bag, the general rule being if you’ve never heard of a certain work there m
Erik Graff
Jan 05, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Having enjoyed Bulwer-Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii as a kid and having heard a bit of the Vril Society from Morning of the Magicians, I found a paperback copy entitled Vril: The Power of the Coming Race in a Morningside Heights bookstore in Manhattan with some excitement: A classic of utopian science fiction--oh boy!

What a disappointment it was! Anyone, anywhere who could be taken in by this nonsensical, metaphysical drivel would be stupid enough to start a two-front war in Europe! Vril mak
Paul Cockayne
Very tedious. But interesting that Hitler like this book - I wonder how much it influenced his vision of a master race?
Nov 27, 2014 Randal rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
Shelves: sci-fi
Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's chief claim to fame is the awfulness of his fiction (, so I don't know what I expected when I picked this little beauty up. Apparently it's not his worst work: that is Paul Clifford. I'll be passing on P.C., thanks.
This one combines a Jules Verne type science fiction idea with what reads like a 1,000-page treatise on philosophy and the natural sciences, all tucked into a slim 200 pages. brian aldiss, who knows a thing or two abou
Octavio Villalpando
"Vril: El poder de la raza venidera", es una especie de prototipo de ciencia ficción con un tema que en nuestros días no tiene nada de novedoso, pero que sin duda, en la época en la que fue escrito, si lo era. Trata acerca de un hombre que, explorando unas profundas minas, de pronto da con un pasaje hacia unas simas inmensas, donde por accidente queda atrapado, descubriendo para su sorpresa que hay una próspera civilización de humanoides plenamente desarrollados habitando en ella... así pues, du ...more
The Coming Race -- I must have heard this title somewhere (quite probably Ancient Aliens) and downloaded it. I was not sure what to expect, all I knew is that it was on my Kindle and I should read it. I gave it a shot and it turned out to be a decent book that was written in 1871; which by all means is quite incredible. The concepts within this story are fantastic, full of detail and what we would consider today - steam-punk-esk mechanisms. Bulwer-Lytton writes with such detail, such tenacity, t ...more
Aaron Meyer
It is no wonder that this book caught the fancy of so many people during its time. The ideas presented give one plenty to think about when comparing them to our own world. I think I would have been hard pressed to leave such a world, but perhaps faced with the same peril as the character in the story I would of done exactly the same as he. I was very interested in his description of the Vril force which everything in their world was ran with. While reading about it I could definitely understand ...more
Ana Syromenos
An obscure, 108-page primer on a mysterious peoples and their even more engimatic culture, The Coming Race (originally titled Vril; the Coming Race) is a fascinating read that conjures up a mix of Lovecraftian style (both the negative and the positive connotations that accompany such a likening) and an academic paper. The narrator and his story is mainly a framing device for an aspect-by-aspect description of the author's imagining of an entirely unique culture.

The book is also interesting becau
Boring, dry, all-too-descriptive and, for lack of a better word, eek. Similar to Butler's 'Erewhon' and Gilman's 'Herland' but infinitely less tolerable. Stick a fork in me, I am done (with Bulwer-Lytton).
Fiona Robson
Amazing read. Glad to see that this is back in print. Very much of it's time, but now becoming a novel of our time. Worth thinking about.
Spyros Blackfinch
Interesting book. A good example of early sci-fi. One of the first stories that inspired the hollow earth mythos.

Despite what the story seems like at first, it's in my opinion a great socio-political satire of the human genus throughout history. I couldn't ignore the similarities of the Vrill-ya culture and communism, or even Plato's "Politeia". Also there are frequent mentions to matters such as the womens' right to vote, the equality of genders and even the perspective of matriarchical societ
This is an interesting book with a oddly influential history. The writing straddles the divide between the classic guided walk-through of an Utopian society as seen in Utopia and The Divine Comedy and the modern plot based Utopian novels like A Brave New World or the more contemporaneous The Sleeper Awakes. This results in a somewhat uneven read but a compelling one none-the-less.

Today, Edward Bulwer-Lytton is synonymous with bad writing but that association does not fully describe his work. He
☠ Daniel
Publicado en 1871 podría considerarse dentro de las primeras obras del género de la ciencia ficción, que hoy en día ya cuenta con subgéneros y una gran taxonomía. Presenta la dualidad de ser una Utopía que podría convertirse en una Distopía, más adelante esto será aclarado.

Primero aclaremos tres cosas sustanciales, las dos más sencillas: Primo ¿cuál es la raza venidera? Son los Vril-ya, habitantes del subsuelo, seres humanoides con alas que habitan en las capas más internas de la Tierra, su orig
This is a very descriptive book about manners, religion, language and other aspects of an subterranean advanced race called Vril-ya. I think his final goal is to achieve some fright on a coming humanoid race that will destroy and replace the actual humans. However, is too descriptive, even in elements poorly attractive in a fantasy narrative, it makes it a little slow and dull in some parts. It must be for the joy of the author of social and philosophical works. This book is the vein of Jules Ve ...more
Chris Lynch
A book that is steeped in 19th century scientific theories of race that had already been discredited before the Nazis came to power. Even the title sounds scarily 'wrong' to modern sensibilities! But this early work of science fiction, written in 1871, is a fascinating and worthwhile read. A whole cycle of conspiracy theories have sprung up around the book, a copy of which, allegedly, sat on Hitler's bookshelf, right next to the Nietzche.

For me, the most interesting idea the book introduces is
Bulwer-Lytton nowadays is mostly known as a synonym for bad writing due to the similarly named contest for the worst opening line while he was extremely popular in Victorian times. That's what has drawn me to this novel in first place as I wanted to experience his writing first hand.
Secondly, out of his oeuvre The Coming Age interested me most deemed to be an early work of speculative fiction (SF). It takes up the hollow earth myth that already was scientifically discredited at the time of writi
The bulk of this novel is the standard Utopian tour guide--the standard dialogue between the ignorant visitor and the Utopian natives (here, the underground Vril-ya, near-humans evolved to a stern perfection, born with the ability to harness the powerful "vril," which they use to power their mechanical automata and wings and weapons and therapeutic devices, etc., etc.).

As a story, it has almost nothing to recommend it, but as a historical artifact, it's got at least two issues to recommend it:
Harry Rutherford
A sort-of utopian Victoria science fiction novel about a race of super-powerful psychic beings, the Vril-ya, living under the surface of the earth, whose society is organised around an energy force called 'vril' which serves as weapon, power source, medicine and whatever else the narrative requires.

I mainly read it, I must admit, because I was fascinated by the fact that the word 'vril' was the origin of the name 'Bovril' for the famous British beef extract. So the book obviously made an impact
B. Zedan
Jul 22, 2008 B. Zedan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks who would like to expand their hollow-earth reading to strange places
Yeah. Um, some good parts? Heavy on the description, which can be nice, and since I read Journey to the Interior of the Earth last month, it was fun to read more hollow-earth bits. Kinda whitey-centric, but what are you gonna do with that era? Narrator was from the States, which also was unsettling, since a lot of what I've been reading is UK and Europe-based. My Big Problem with the book was that I'm kinda of the belief (most likely heartily taken from pulp sf) that the chief (positive) attribu ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 49 50 next »
  • The Old Men at the Zoo
  • Bold as Love
  • The Influence
  • Ascent
  • Hello Summer, Goodbye
  • After London: or, Wild England
  • The Victorian Chaise Longue
  • Mother London
  • A Glastonbury Romance
  • The End of the World News
  • Erewhon (Erewhon , #1)
  • News from Nowhere
  • A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder
  • A Voyage to Arcturus
  • The Night Sessions
  • Ingenious Pain
  • Red Shift
  • Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC, was an English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician. Lord Lytton was a florid, popular writer of his day, who coined such phrases as "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", and the infamous incipit "It was a dark and stormy night."

He was the youngest son of General William Ear
More about Edward Bulwer-Lytton...

Share This Book

“We are not such fools as to pay for reading inferior books, when we can read superior books for nothing.” 9 likes
“He who studies old books will always find in them something new, and he who reads new books will always find in them something old.” 1 likes
More quotes…