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The Coming Race

The Coming Race by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
By: (1803-1873)

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (1803-1873) was an English novelist, poet, playright, 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.” Despite his popularity in his heyday, today his name is known as a byword for bad writing. San Jose State University holds an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing in which contestants have to supply terrible openings of imaginary novels, inspired by his novel Paul Clifford, which opens with the famous words: “It was a dark and stormy night”.

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 centres 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 civilisation 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.

First Page:

THE COMING RACE

by Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton

Chapter I.

I am a native of , in the United States of America. My ancestors migrated from England in the reign of Charles II.; and my grandfather was not undistinguished in the War of Independence. My family, therefore, enjoyed a somewhat high social position in right of birth; and being also opulent, they were considered disqualified for the public service. My father once ran for Congress, but was signally defeated by his tailor. After that event he interfered little in politics, and lived much in his library. I was the eldest of three sons, and sent at the age of sixteen to the old country, partly to complete my literary education, partly to commence my commercial training in a mercantile firm at Liverpool. My father died shortly after I was twenty one; and being left well off, and having a taste for travel and adventure, I resigned, for a time, all pursuit of the almighty dollar, and became a desultory wanderer over the face of the earth.

In the year 18 , happening to be in , I was invited by a professional engineer, with whom I had made acquaintance, to visit the recesses of the mine, upon which he was employed... Continue reading book >>


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Reviews (Rated: 2 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - February 25, 2016
Subject: The Coming Race
I found the narrator (Mary Roady) and story suited each other perfectly. Did my best but after 16 chapters I gave up waiting for something to happen.


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