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The Coming Race (1871)

af Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron Lytton

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4021147,125 (2.97)24
"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 Racewas 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.… (mere)
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» Se også 24 omtaler

Engelsk (9)  Spansk (2)  Alle sprog (11)
Viser 1-5 af 11 (næste | vis alle)
Well worth a read. The superior race, the real "terrestrials" who live underground are discovered by a man who is welcomed into their society and learns about their language, religions, social structure, politics, achievements, history, sex, and death. I found myself wondering what the Anas did regarding differing aspects of living and Bulwer-Lytton seemed to answer all my thoughts! I believe my reading of many H G Wells' stories before I read this helped as it followed the same sort of structure as a Wells story, and was set in the same time as most Wells' stories. I was very glad to have read this and glad it had a happy ending too - for the protagonist (though bleak for our humankind survival). ( )
  AChild | Jan 15, 2021 |
SUPER BOVRIL

Published anonymously in 1871 this novel follows in the traditions of a hollow earth theory already explored in [Niels Klim's Journey Under the ground] in 1741 and [Symzonia] in 1820. Like the previous two novels the protagonist describes a utopian society living someway below the earths surface, which is hollowed out and contains it's own atmosphere. Jules Verne also described a hollowed out earth in his Journey to the Centre of the earth (1864) but his hero's did not encounter any utopian societies. As in the previous two utopian novels the book is a first person account by a man who penetrates beneath the surface of the Earth and discovers a race of humanoids (the Vril-ya). Their life style, culture and society is one of harmony and ease compared with the life on the surface of the earth, but of course utopia is not for everyone and like the hero's of the previous books our man risks his life to get back to the civilization that he knows.

Bulwer-Lytton spends most of his energies describing the society of the Vril-ya. There are 29 chapters and the first five describe the circumstances of the narrators descent and reception by the Vril-ya and it is not until chapter 25 that the story starts up again with the narrator planning his escape. This is not an adventure novel, but a description of a utopian society and although the narrator is never entirely comfortable, for the most part he is on a voyage of discovery. He cannot of course help but compare his own society (he is an American by birth) with what he finds in the underground world. In this respect it is quite similar to Thomas More's Utopia from the early sixteenth century, but the difference here is the substance from which the race takes it's name: vril. It strikes the narrator as being like electricity, but in the form of an all permeating liquid that can do almost anything once properly handled and understood. It lights the underworld, it provides power, it can be harnessed as a death ray by almost anybody, it powers airboats, and individual wings for flight, it runs the automatons that do much of the menial work, it heals and cures, and gives the powers of mind reading and telepathy. This unique substance has enabled the Vril-ya to become masters of their environment and has taken away the need for striving and competition. There is no need for war, there is no crime and the city is run for the benefit of all, with the motto of

"A poor man's need is a rich man's shame"

However our narrator is not convinced:

"I longed for a change, even to winter, or storm, or darkness. I began to feel that, whatever our dreams of perfectibility, our restless aspirations towards a better, and higher, and calmer, sphere of being, we, the mortals of the upper world, are not trained or fitted to enjoy for long the very happiness of which we dream or to which we aspire."

Generally speaking the females are better at controlling the Vril and they have developed into the most powerful sex, but choose to live in harmony with the males. The females make all the moves in choosing a mate, but once married they settle into domesticity and hang up their wings. Much of the energy in the society comes from a youth culture dominated by the females.

Bulwer-lytton paints the society as completely alien to the surface world with the threat once mentioned by the Vril-ya almost in passing that when the time is right they will go up to the surface. The narrator sees a coldness behind the harmony of the Vril-ya and is in no doubt that they see themselves as the master race. His unease even when he is shown kindness and friendship keeps the reader in suspense for what may happen. The majority of the book is however a description of an alien culture, and Bulwer-Lytton seems to be indulging his own interests when he spends a chapter on the development of their language. This may be fascinating to those readers interested in linguistics, but for others that want to get on with the story then it might feel a bit like a cul-de-sac. The story does eventually pick up and the uneasiness felt by the narrator is well justified, but of course we know that he lived to tell his tale. This short novel does have its longueurs, but it is well written and deserves its place in the canon of proto science fiction. It was quite popular in the nineteenth century and the word vril became associated with life giving elixirs. There was a Vril-ya Bazaar held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1891. 3.5 stars (I prefer Marmite) ( )
2 stem baswood | Oct 5, 2019 |
LA RAZA VENIDERA

La Raza venidera es una obra maestra de la sátira
utópica y un extraordinario logro de la imaginación
profética. Anticipa con extraordinaria precisión el moderno
surgimiento de la mujer, los desarrollos de la
energía nuclear y la tecnología láser, y los terribles
genocidios étnicos que llevarían a cabo pretendidas
razas superiores. Una de las primeras novelas de
ciencia ficción de la literatura inglesa.

«En La Raza venidera, lord Lytton representa a un
vulgar hombre de nuestro tiempo atrapado por
accidente en un país subterráneo habitado por una raza
varios cientos de años por delante de nosotros en la
evolución. Y, esta teoría de la evolución, introduce
algo así como un método científico en la novela
moderna.»

George Bernard Shaw

«Hace ya bastante tiempo que hemos aprendido a
reverenciar el fino intelecto de Bulwer. Podemos coger
una cualquiera de las producciones de su pluma con
la seguridad de que, al leerla, las más salvajes pasiones
de nuestra naturaleza, nuestros más profundos
pensamientos, las más brillantes visiones de nuestra
fantasía y las más ennoblecedoras y elevadas de nuestras
aspiraciones serán, a su debido turno, encendidas en
nuestro interior.»

Edgar Allan Poe
  FundacionRosacruz | Dec 25, 2018 |
LA RAZA FUTURA

La novela La Raza Futura, cuya traducción al castellano
ofrecemos a nuestros lectores, es una exploración
del porvenir; tanto más sorprendente cuanto
fue escrita en 1871, en una época en que la ciencia,
la mecánica y la electricidad se encontraban
en un estado casi embrionario. Lord Lytton
se revela como escritor de clara intuición, rayana
en clarividencia; de otra manera no hubiera
podido desplegar ante el lector un panorama del
desenvolvimiento humano tan avanzado; el cual,
si cuando escribió la obra pudo considerarse
como fantasía irrealizable, hoy, ante los progresos
de las ciencias, de la mecánica, de la electricidad
aplicada y, sobre todo, de la aeronáutica, nos
ha de parecer no sólo realizable, sino en curso
de realización.

El hecho mismo de situar en el centro
de la tierra el escenario y el medio ambiente
del relato es, en clerto modo, simbólico;
parece como si el autor quisiera indicar
que la humanidad, para alcanzar el grado de
perfección de la raza futura y más avanzada,
cuyo cuadro nos presenta, tendrá que adentrarse
más en sí misma.
  FundacionRosacruz | Sep 8, 2018 |
This 19th century novella describes an encounter between the unnamed narrator and an underground civilisation he comes across when he becomes trapped down the bottom of a shaft in a mine, after his companion, who first discovered the shaft, falls and dies when the rope by which they're descending breaks. After this dramatic start, most of the rest of the book is taken up by the author/narrator's description of the culture and mores of the civilisation he discovers, the Vril-ya; so called because of their use of the force "vril", which combines electricity, magnetism, gravity, etc. in such a way that it can be used by any member of the Vril-ya race to do anything they please, whether creative or destructive. These chapters can drag rather, though they form an excellent exercise in creating an alien mindset, one that allows the author to explore contemporary issues such as evolution (the Vril-ya debate whether or not they're descended from frogs) and women's rights (female Vril-ya dominate intellectual life and courtship rituals in an antithesis of the reality of late Victorian society). While fascinating, this does not make for a great narrative in a novel; and only towards the end does drama return when the narrator is helped to escape death and flee back up to the surface to save his life, by a female Vril-ya who is in love with him.

Interestingly, the fictional substance "vril" caught the imagination of some sections of late Victorian society, especially the spiritualists, who believed that Bulwer-Lytton had derived it from some ancient tradition and thus some of them adopted it as part of their explanations for mysterious and occult phenomena; and more trivially, the word Bovril apparently derives from this fictional super-material! ( )
  john257hopper | Feb 18, 2016 |
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"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 Racewas 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.

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