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The Coming Race (Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction) [Hardcover]

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Author)
Our Price $ 29.71  
Retail Value $ 34.95  
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Item Number 100010  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   280
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 5.9" Height: 1.3"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 31, 2005
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819567493  
EAN  9780819567499  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 28.61 $ 28.61 2364860 In Stock
Hardcover $ 34.95 $ 29.71 100010
Hardcover $ 32.85 $ 32.85 2374043 In Stock
Paperback $ 9.99 $ 9.59 600205 In Stock
Paperback $ 11.60 $ 11.60 356208 In Stock
Item Description...
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 Coming Race is no exception. An evolutionary fantasy first published in 1871, the story draws upon ideas of Darwinism to describe a near future world characterized by female dominance, physical perfection, and vast technological progress. The novel was extremely popular in its time and is now considered a seminal science fiction text by contemporary scholars. This Wesleyan edition includes scholarly notes and an introduction that places the work in an intellectual and literary context, and describes the author's interest in the occult.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not as good as H.G. Wells  Dec 28, 2007
The Coming Race is a fine sci-fi novel, of the 1800's variety. For the most part it is quite enjoyable, and Bulwer-Lytton's vision of the Vrilya is quite comprehensive. Still, though, overall the book felt a little too short, and a little too amateurish, when compared against H.G. Wells, or more modernish sci-fi authors. Still, a recommended read by all means!

Regarding the Broadview Press edition, I always get one of these books if I'm reading classic fiction because I love all the extras they have, like essays or other short related stories by the same author or script and newspaper excerpts, however I was sorely disappointed to find none of the above in this book, beyond an introduction that didn't tell me much that Wikipedia hadn't already.
Conflict and change  Jun 2, 2007
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (5/07)

"The Coming Race" is a book that will best appeal to individuals who enjoy studying different civilizations and learning about how their citizens come to behave and believe the way they do. It incorporates aspects of both science fiction and fantasy. This book follows the accounts of a man who has fallen into an underground world that is so different from the world he knows. The author utilizes a very descriptive style to portray the intuitive thoughts of this narrator as he recalls this experience.

The residents of this underground society are known as the Vril-ya. They lead simple and peaceful lives in which there is no war and no crime. In fact, if someone is unhappy in their society, his only recourse is to emigrate to a different tribe. In their world, no individual is considered superior to another individual (including the leaders) in order to ascertain there will be no jealousy among the people. Another major difference is that children are the workers and are entrusted with the toughest jobs such as killing any dangerous creatures that are encountered. In the beginning, the narrator seems impressed with this seemingly perfect civilization. However, he comes to question whether it is a good thing to have such a controlled and stagnant society and worries that this type of advanced civilization may eventually take over the world.

This book started off great and I expected it would be action-packed and full of adventure. However, I was somewhat disappointed that it turned out to be mainly a narrative. I would have preferred more dialogue between the characters. The chapter about the development of their language (Chapter XII) was particularly grueling and contributed to the slow pace. I did enjoy the author's use of lesser known vocabulary words. It is good to know that my high school years were well spent.

Although this book was first published in 1871, there is much that can be learned from it. "The Coming Race" makes some important points about what constitutes a productive and successful society. Having no war and no crime sounds great, as does complete equality among individuals. However, once this type of "perfection" is achieved, life will become extremely dull as there can be no debates or exchanges of ideas to keep things interesting. The world needs conflict and change so there can be progress and growth.
Boring  Dec 1, 2005
I bought this book hoping it would explain the inspiration for the Vril Society. Why would anyone be moved by this book to form a society following the idea of Vril?? Not only is it boring, but it is written like a children's book. Everything is explained like this...the grass was green and everywhere there was light...blah blah.... horrible imagery! I'm being biased only b/c I've read so many things about how the Vril Society influenced Nazism...and now I can't imagine why. This book sucks.
Truth is stranger than fiction  Jun 16, 2005
A man named Bulwer Lytton had written a book called The Coming Race in 1871 which describes a race of men psychically far in advance of our own said to live in caves in the center of the Earth, soon to emerge to reign over the rest of us. The Vril Society established itself as a reaction to this book.

The Vril Society (or the Luminous Lodge) combined the ideals of the Illuminati with Hindu Mysticism, Theosophy and the Quabbala. It was the first German nationalist group to use the swastika as an emblem linking Eastern and Western occultism. The Vril Society presented an idea of a subterranean matriarchal socialist utopia ruled by superior beings that had mastered the mysterious energy called the Vril Force.

The Vril Society formed shortly before the Nazis came to power. They believed they had secret knowledge that would enable them to change their race and become the equals of men hidden in the bowels of the Earth through methods of concentration based in Ignatius Loyala's Spiritual Exercises.
Great Early Science Fiction: A Fast Fun Read  Feb 15, 2005
The Coming Race is a great book on many levels. As a story it is well developed and is one of Bulwer-Lytton's best works of science fiction. Also from a historical aspect it is an interesting document to see how the Victorian mind saw the world and what was beyond their horizons. This book had an incredible impact upon the reading public upon its release in 1871 and its influence, as well as that of Lytton in general, is felt greatly in later works of early sci-fi. I especially feel the stylistic influence in Upton Sinclair's "Millennium" and while for a review this is neither here nor there, this is important in understanding the development of the genre.

The book opens up with the main character, an American, being invited into a mine exploration by friend. Within just a few pages of the most basic exposition the story begins. For this genre and being that the terranean characters matter little, jumping into the plot like this makes the reading fun. For a 19th century it reads very fast and before long the reader will be well acquainted with the ways of the vril-ya and "vril" - the power source of the coming race. It really is a fun read.

The only problem with this book is that while Lytton goes through an enormity of steps to describe the culture and idiosyncrasies of the vril-ya the book at times reads more like notes of an anthropologist than a literary novel. Of course this may be the intention and since it is such a quick and enjoyable read, we can forgive the author of this. If you are fan of Lord Lytton or a fan of early Sci-Fi this is a definite read. I also would recommend this book to anyone who like 19th century novels and think this should be included in more high school English literature classes because it does not fit the stereotype and would be a welcome break for many students. While we know quite well that this work is purely fantastical it is really enjoyable to see how the mind of the 19th century saw the possibility of worlds going on underground and it is fun to imagine and believe...

-- Ted Murena

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