As I drew near and nearer to the light, the chasm became wider, and at last I saw, to my unspeakable amaze, a broad level road at the bottom of the abyss, illumined as far as the eye could reach by what seemed artificial gas lamps placed at regular intervals, as in the thoroughfare of a great city; and I heard confusedly at a distance a hum as of human voices...." Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race was one of the most remarkable and most influential books published in the 1870s. The protagonist, a wealthy American wanderer, accompanies an engineer into the recesses of a mine, and discovers the vast caverns of a well-lit, civilized land in which dwell the Vril-ya. Placid vegetarians and mystics, the Vril-ya are privy to the powerful force of Vril—a mysterious source of energy that may be used to illuminate, or to destroy. The Vril-ya have built a world without fame and without envy, without poverty and without many of the other extremes that characterize human society. The women are taller and grander than the men, and control everything related to the reproduction of the race. There is little need to work—and much of what does need to be done is for a novel reason consigned to children. As the Vril-ya have evolved a society of calm and of contentment, so they have evolved physically. But as it turns out, they are destined one day to emerge from the earth and to destroy human civilization. Bulwer-Lytton's novel is fascinating for the ideas it expresses about evolution, about gender, and about the ambitions of human society. But it is also an extraordinarily entertaining science fiction novel. Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, one of the great figures of late Victorian literature, may have been overvalued in his time—but his extraordinarily engaging and readable work is certainly greatly undervalued today. As Brian Aldiss notes in his introduction to this new edition, this utopian science fiction novel first published in 1871 still retains tremendous interest.
The Coming Race is a science fiction novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The novel centers on a young, independently wealthy traveler who accidentally finds his way into a subterranean world occupied by beings who seem to resemble angels and call themselves Vril-ya. The hero soon discovers that the Vril-ya are descendants of an antediluvian civilization who live in networks of subterranean caverns linked by tunnels. It is a technologically supported Utopia, chief among their tools being the "all-permeating fluid" called "Vril", a latent source of energy which his spiritually elevated hosts are able to master through training of their will, to a degree which depends upon their hereditary constitution, giving them access to an extraordinary force that can be controlled at will. The powers of the will include the ability to heal, change, and destroy beings and things. The Vril-ya will run out of habitable spaces underground and start claiming the surface of the Earth, destroying mankind in the process if necessary.
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.
The Last Days of Pompeii is a novel written by the baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The novel uses its characters to contrast the decadent culture of 1st-century Rome with both older cultures and coming trends. The protagonist, Glaucus, represents the Greeks who have been subordinated by Rome, and his nemesis Arbaces the still older culture of Egypt. Olinthus is the chief representative of the nascent Christian religion, which is presented favourably but not uncritically. The Witch of Vesuvius, though she has no supernatural powers, shows Bulwer-Lytton's interest in the occult - a theme which would emerge in his later writing, particularly The Coming Race.
In the year 18— I settled as a physician at one of the wealthiest of our great English towns, which I will designate by the initial L―. I was yet young, but I had acquired some reputation by a professional work, which is, I believe, still amongst the received authorities on the subject of which it treats. I had studied at Edinburgh and at Paris, and had borne away from both those illustrious schools of medicine whatever guarantees for future distinction the praise of professors may concede to the ambition of students. On becoming a member of the College of Physicians, I made a tour of the principal cities of Europe, taking letters of introduction to eminent medical men, and gathering from many theories and modes of treatment hints to enlarge the foundations of unprejudiced and comprehensive' practice.
You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.