A THOUSAND DEATHS (1899) – This story was the first published work by Jack London and it definitely shows, but it still has certain merits. The protagonist – who is never named – is the scion of a wealthy British family. Feeling stifled by his rigid upbringing he ran off in his teens to roam the world. He’s fallen into various shady professions over the years and now at age 30 he’s begun having regrets.
His latest misadventure involved diving off a ship he regretted signing onto as soon as he sobered up and as soon as the vessel left San Francisco Harbor. Our hero miscalculated the distance back to shore, however, and now faces the prospect of drowning.
He seems to feel himself going under but then wakes up after an indeterminate time on board a luxurious yacht. The man has various tubes and wires connected to his body and soon learns that he has been saved from drowning by the crew of … his estranged father. That father (who also goes unnamed – it’s early Jack London all right) fails to recognize his son because of the changes the younger man’s rough life has inflicted on him.
Our protagonist (If that IS his real name – I’m kidding.) uses a phony name to hide his identity from his father. And Jack London apparently felt that even that alias was none of our damn business so don’t ask. The undercover son learns from his oblivious father that he really HAD died from drowning, but his father – a mad scientist – used the machines he’s strapped to, to literally bring him back from the dead. Continue reading