Renowned as a writer of classic adventure stories such as The Call of the Wild and White Fang, Jack London also had a parallel career as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. In Leonaur’s three volume The Collected Science Fiction & Fantasy of Jack London, his SF and fantasy novels and shorter works are brought together for the first time. Darrell Standing is a university professor and convicted murderer. He’s also The Star Rover. During long spells in solitary confinement, his body immobilised by a canvas jacket that prevents all movement, he develops a technique that allows his non-corporeal self to wander through time and home in on lives that were his before he was Darrell Standing. His adventures - engaging, vivid and exciting - offer an eye-witness perspective on a past that might have been. This volume also includes three entertaining shorter works that show Jack London as a more than worthy contemporary of H. G. Wells.
We crossed the Straits of Japan and were entering the Yellow Sea on our way to China, when we laid the Sparwehr on the rocks. She was a crazy tub, the old Sparwehr, so clumsy and so dirty with whiskered marine-life on her bottom that she could not get out of her own way. Close-hauled, the closest she could come was to six points of the wind; and then she bobbed up and down, without way, like a derelict turnip. Galliots were clippers compared with her. To tack her about was undreamed of; to wear her required all hands and half a watch. So situated, we were caught on a lee shore in an eight-point shift of wind at the height of a hurricane that had beaten our souls sick for forty-eight hours.
We drifted in upon the land in the chill light of a stormy dawn across a heartless cross-sea mountain high. It was dead of winter, and between smoking snow-squalls we could glimpse the forbidding coast, if coast it might be called, so broken was it. There were grim rock isles and islets beyond counting, dim snow-covered ranges beyond, and everywhere upstanding cliffs too steep for snow, outjuts of headlands, and pinnacles and slivers of rock upthrust from the boiling sea.
There was no name to this country on which we drove, no record of it ever having been visited by navigators. Its coastline was only hinted at in our chart. From all of which we could argue that the inhabitants were as inhospitable as the little of their land we could see.
The Sparwehr drove in bow-on upon a cliff. There was deep water to its sheer foot, so that our sky-aspiring bowspirit crumpled at the impact and snapped short off. The foremast went by the board, with a great snapping of rope shrouds and stays, and fell forward against the cliff.Keijo we found a vast city where all the population, with the exception of the nobles, or yang-bans, dressed in the eternal white. This, Kim explained, was an automatic determination and advertisement of caste. Thus, at a glance could one tell the status of an individual by the degrees of cleanliness or of filthiness of his garments. It stood to reason that a coolie, possessing but the clothes he stood up in, must be extremely dirty. And to reason it stood that the individual in immaculate white must possess many changes and command the labor of laundresses to keep his changes immaculate. As for the yang-bans who wore the pale varicolored silks, they were beyond such common yardstick of place.
After resting in an inn for several days during which time we washed our garments and repaired the ravages of shipwreck and travel, we were summoned before the Emperor. In the great open space before the palace wall were colossal stone dogs that looked more like tortoises. They crouched on massive stone pedestals of twice the height of a tall man. The walls of the palace were huge and of dressed stone. So thick were these walls that they could defy a breach from the mightiest of cannon in a year-long siege. The mere gateway was of the size of a palace in itself, rising pagoda-like in many retreating stories, each story fringed with tile roofing. A smart guard of soldiers fumed out at the gateway. These, Kim told me, were the Tiger Hunters of Pyeng-yang, the fiercest and most terrible fighting men of which Cho-Sen could boast.