Jack London
Biographical notes by Blake Wilfong

"I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather my spark would burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist."

American author Jack London (1876-1916) was a man ahead of his time. He is most often remembered for his tales of the icy northland, especially the 1903 novel The Call of the Wild. But he also wrote science fiction, including superb short stories that would have been at home in the classic SF pulp magazines decades later.

Raised in poverty in the San Francisco/Oakland area, London read library books voraciously to educate himself. During his teens and early adult years, he lived a varied existence as a longshoreman, canner, clothes launderer, fisherman, oyster thief, gang leader, sailor, seal hunter, and hobo. From 1897 to 1898, he was caught up in the Klondike gold rush, but, like most of his fellow prospectors, found only disappointment. He returned to California and launched a successful writing career, drawing on his rich store of personal experiences.

London committed suicide at the age of 40. But he had already seen enough adventures for a dozen lifetimes.

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