... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Literary Interlude: The Coming Race Is Coming

Some may cheer. Most will scratch their heads and go "Hunh?" But I plan on doing a write-up for the Vril-ya, the subterranean race of Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race.

Why? I'm only about halfway through (slower reading than Merritt's The Moon Pool, even though it's half as long,) but it's already obvious that it's had an influence on both the latter and on Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and through them on D&D. First, the Vril staff looks like a better antecedent for D&D-style magic than the magic of Merlin or Gandalf. Since vril is a mystical force, akin to orgone or odic force, the Vril-ya sound like wizards even though they are described as being scientifically advanced rather than supernaturally empowered.

Second, the "magical" female-dominated underworld is kind of reminiscent of the drow. They are even dark-skinned, although the color is red rather than black.

Third, there's a bit about whether or not the Vril-ya are descended from frogs, with a painting depicting a philosopher with vaguely batrachian features next to his grandfather, with much more obvious half-frog features, and his great-grandfather, who looks exactly like a frog-man hybrid. This, plus the actual bipedal frogs in The Moon Pool, is an obvious source for some Lovecraft and CAS story elements, and is either a direct or indirect inspiration for the frog people in Supplement II and possibly for Charles Sross's Slaadi. So, they would fit well with my Saturnians in a planned "Minimal Menagerie" zine/book, and will possibly show up in the blog before then.

This is all after I've finished the book, of course.


  1. I look forward to this. I should note, however, that Michael Curtis included the Vril-ya in his Stonehell megadungeon, but there's always room for another take on them :)

  2. I didn't know about that... thanks for the head-up.

    My own take is going to emphasize their place as pseudo-infernals.