The Coming Race is the crowning achievement of the genre of hollow earth fiction, in which a hero makes a perilous journey underground and discovers a superior race. The customs and political systems of these ”aliens from inner space” are researched and contrasted with the deficient practices of old-fashioned, muddling, imperfect humanity. The subterranean race in this novel, the Vril-ya, are seemingly angelic creatures whose amazing powers come from their harnessing of a force called Vril. Bulwer's novel is unequaled for the depth of its intellectual explorations – inquiries into an astonishing range of social, political, scientific, religious, linguistic, and sexual issues that are enabled by the hollow earth plot. The novel is accompanied and illuminated in this edition by a broad range of historical materials on evolution, electromagnetism, gender roles, and nineteenth-century science fiction.
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (1803–1873), was an English politician, poet, playwright, and prolific novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune. He coined the phrases ”pursuit of the almighty dollar”, ”the pen is mightier than the sword”, and the famous opening line ”It was a dark and stormy night”.