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The Coming Race

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,178 ratings  ·  159 reviews
This early science fiction novel offers a fascinating vision of a shadowy underworld populated by strange and beautiful creatures who closely resemble the angels described in Christian lore. These beings, known as Vril-ya, live underground, but are planning soon to claim the surface of the earth as their own -- destroying humankind in the process.
Paperback, 148 pages
Published May 29th 2008 by BiblioLife (first published 1871)
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Average rating 3.24  · 
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 ·  1,178 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
*Read for school*
I don't know what it is but I just found this to be so dull and boring. Maybe analyzing it in class will encourage me to up the star rating but for now it remains at a 1 because it was torturous to get through
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 from there. This civilization is nearly a utopia, they are in control of a seemingly "magic" substance known to them as Vril which be used for destructive or healing purposes. The story loses me for ...more
Greg Paulson
Apr 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well that was dull. I had expected an early SF novel about a secret race living underground to be considerably more gripping. I bought it out of curiosity because Bovril is named after it! - Wikipedia - "The first part of the product's name comes from Latin bovīnus, meaning "ox".[2] Johnston took the -vril suffix from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's then-popular novel, The Coming Race (1870), whose plot revolves around a superior race of people, the Vril-ya, who derive their powers from an electromagneti ...more
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 startrek. I'd break it down into 3 parts, the start is decent the middle drags a bit as the author goes into too much detail concerning languages and other boring stuff but the last third is great. The mai ...more
Fiona Robson
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I surprisingly loved this book, even if it is nothing like I was expecting. It follows an American man who falls down into the earth and finds a strange advanced race living down there. While on the surface this is a science fiction, I found it more of an examination of a type of Utopia, where these winged people had formed a society where women propose to men and have much power and every other race which defies them is obliterated. This book is slow, and speculated on the best kind of philosop ...more
Tommy Carlson
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Written in the classic Victorian style with plenty of detail and gentlemanly views and standards, this is a great sci-fi tale that follows the narrator as he discovers an ancient civilisation, the Vril-ya, that live in subterranean caves and tunnels after being driven from the surface by floods. The civilisation is somewhat different to the human world above with women equal to men, so much so it is they who do the romantic chasing and who are the physically stronger sex, something which intrigu ...more
Erik Graff
May 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  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
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
Jun 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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). ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I almost feel bad tearing this book apart, seeing as those before me did such a fantastic job, but I'll just add my two cents anyway. That's about all I would spare for this book.

In lieu of a plot, here's the general premise of the story: a man gallavants around a mine and finds an underground world. Apparently, this mine had zero safety features in place and the boys working it found some sucker to explore a deep cavern that the professional miners were either too stupid or too afraid to check
Many science-fiction novels (regardless of its literary quality) have left a deep footprint in our collective consciousness and shape our expectations about our future: Frankenstein explored the implications of the power to create life through science and The War of the Worlds imaged our reaction when confronted by an alien/extraterrestrial life form that defied our anthropocentric ideas. While The Coming Race has not reached such a mainstream influence, it certainly has given a base of sorts to ...more
Patrick St-Amand
A sort of Utopian story about a hidden race beneath the earth in which our protagonist has stumbled into. Interesting in certain ways but a lot of philosophical navel-gazing which impede an otherwise decent sci-fi as adventure.
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
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
Francis S.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is remarkable and when read from an informational (historical and scientific) perspective it suddenly gains new significance. The problem with most reviews here are that they read it from a fictional and entertainment perspective, but this is CLEARLY not the intention of this author.

I mean seriously, look at this author's track record. He was NOT in the entertainment business - not a fictional writer and this book cannot be considered a fictional work.

If you read this book from the pro
Bill Wallace
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
A novel influential in at least two ways -- as an early example of the Hollow Earth / Other World romance and as an inspiration to Theosophy and other 19th Century occult/mystical movements. Apparently Bulwer-Lytton's Utopian satire of a race of quasi-Socialist flying people living underground was irresistible to people who wanted to believe in a unified energy (vril) that would tie electricity, mesmerism, and pretty much everything else together. The underground society and our hapless surface ...more
I just finished the story and it's not at all what I expected. But it was interesting. Except for the passages that droned on about their language. I have a lot of thoughts about the views on women and social customs. But, whoa, he should've stayed away from that Aryan racial stuff. I mean, hindsight and all from more than a hundred years later... But I think at the end of the book he'd throw away all the racial stuff.
Ray Chilensky
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

Thoughts about 'The Coming Race'.
April 16, 2017
Ray Chilensky
I've been reading a lot of fiction from the Victorian Age lately and I'm becoming convinced that people were, in general, more intelligent (or, at least, more intellectually disciplined) in that era than we are today. Right now, I'm reading the 'The Coming Race' written in 1871 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. This book has been smeared, maybe even suppressed, because it became popular within Nazi circles is absolutely fascinating. It deals wi
The American Conservative
"Science fiction has flooded television and Hollywood in recent decades. Our pop culture has been completely saturated by it—and it has often played a key role in our cultural and political commentary. Films and novels such as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight or Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games touch upon issues ranging from the War on Terror to the Occupy Wall Street movement."

See the full review, "The First Dystopia," on our website:
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, this was the final book in my quick survey of Victorian classics. Whether the land of the Vril-ya is a utopia or a distopia is up to the individual. Science is revered. Everyone is equal. Everything important is free and prejudice has been eliminated by a homogenous society that turns to ash anyone who threaten its placid existence. It's the kind of book I'd expect college professors to enjoy because they don't realize it was meant as satire. Bulwer-Lytton created the perfect socialist utopi ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasyandscifi
Strange book because there's no real story but more like a description of the world underground. The people are described, their customs and cultures and their attitude towards the man who enters their world. He's made to feel like a child in many respects, patted on the head by the more intelligent culture.
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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

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