Jack London wrote many adventure stories set in the frozen north. He was a big commercial success in his time. Some of his stories are still frequently anthologized.
Jack London Short Stories
The narrator hates John Claverhouse especially his optimistic view of life, his laugh, and his name. He knows that it’s an irrational hatred, but instead of ignoring the man, he obsesses over him, making it his aim to destroy Claverhouse’s life.
This is the first story in the preview of Moon-Face & Other Stories.
“For the first time we see a certain individual, one who the very instant before we did not dream existed; and yet, at the first moment of meeting, we say: ‘I do not like that man.'”
A Piece of Steak
Tom King is an aging prize-fighter preparing for a bout. He doesn’t have a sparring partner or enough food to be at his best. Money is tight and the tradesmen won’t give him credit anymore. He needs the win bonus from his next fight for himself, his wife, and his kids.
“No—and there was no use in disguising the fact—his training had not been satisfactory. He should have had better food and no worries. Besides, when a man is forty, it is harder to get into condition than when he is twenty.”
—A Piece of Steak
The Law of Life
Koskoosh, an old man and formerly the chief of an Inuit tribe, sits by himself outside of his tribe’s camp. They are preparing to leave the area to look for better hunting grounds. Koskoosh isn’t going with them; he will wait alone for his death as nature dictates.
The One Thousand Dozen
David Rasmunsen is a hustler and an obsessive man. He comes up with a scheme to transport eggs to Dawson where they’ll sell for a premium price. Even with expenses, he stands to make a healthy profit.
The Red One
Bassett is a scientist on a jungle expedition. He gets distracted by an indescribable sound emanating from a mountain gorge. His assistant, Sagawa, warns him against investigating it. They set out and soon encounter resistance from some bushmen.
South of the Slot
Freddie Drummond is a professor of Sociology and completely orthodox in his views. He makes visits to the working-class part of town, South of the Slot, as research for his books. In this role he is “Big” Bill Tots. He begins to enjoy these trips more and more. Eventually, Freddie/Bill is a success in both worlds.
The Sun-Dog Trail
Sitka Charley is relaxing after a day on the Alaskan trail. He and the narrator start talking about a painting, which reminds Sitka of an arduous journey he once made. When he was a letter carrier on Lake Linderman, a young woman hired him to take her to Dawson. Then she hires him to travel with her. She is desperately looking for something but doesn’t tell him what.
To Build a Fire
In the Yukon, a man is traveling on foot with a husky in the wilderness to meet some acquaintances. It’s –75 degrees and even though he’s careful, he breaks through some ice and soaks his boots, necessitating a fire.
“The animal was depressed by the tremendous cold. It knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man’s judgment.”
—To Build a Fire
To the Man on the Trail
A group of men are in the Alaskan wilderness in a bar after a long day’s work. A visitor named Westondale comes in, tells a story about following someone, talks about his family, and asks to be awakened in a few hours so he can continue on his journey. Shortly after the police arrive with a different story.
The White Silence
Mason, Ruth (his wife), and the Malamute Kid are on the Yukon trail, low on food, with a long trip in front of them. They know they will have to eat some of the dogs. They reach a high bank that proves difficult for the weakened dogs to climb.
The Wisdom of the Trail
Sitka Charley is an Indian who has left his own people to learn the white man’s sense of honor and the law. He’s a member of a traveling party led by Captain Effingwell. Only Sitka and the Captain are armed. Sitka warns two other Indians with their crew to carry out their duties properly.