Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Coming Race By Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Written in 1871 The Coming Race was one of the last books ever written by the author, he died two years later. The story begins when an American civil engineer falls into an underground world. There he discovers a subterranean paradise inhabited by a race called the Vril-ya.These Vril-ya tell the narrator that they are descended from ancestors who escaped the 'upper world' as a result of a deluge which covered the earth. Their evolution has taken a certain course mainly because of the discovery of an energy source, similar to electricity.This energy, from which they also take their name, is called Vril. Lytton's narrative, published in the same year as The Descent of Man, is one of the first truly post-Darwinian novels. It incorporates many of the scientific ideas of the period, and the subsequent fears of degeneration and devolution.

The narrator soon discovers that this subterranean paradise is not all that it seems. Lurking in an unlit region of this underground world are a race of primitive savages, who like Wells's Morlocks, represent the flipside of evolution. Without Vril the savages have not progressed, they live in darkness, eat meat and resemble animals. In contrast, the Vril-ya live perfect lives, they are physically beautiful and have developed the abvility to fly with the help of Vril. The narrator appears to have stumbled into a parasise where a race of angels live in perfect harmony, without conflict, without envy and where all men are considered equal. The one thing that this future paradise cannot overcome is boredom.Tthe narrator concludes that although mankind dreams of perfectibility it is a pleasure that we are not meant to enjoy, at least not in this lifetime. Worth a read, especially if you are interested in the history of Science Fiction.

The Coming Race download available from Project Gutenberg - Click Here

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