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Morine on Jack London’s Ernest Everhard


By Nicholas Morine

For me, writing is an exercise in both truth and imagination in equal portions. In our age of media saturation, it can be hard to distinguish messages of truth and authenticity from pieces of manipulation and blatant disinformation. More than that, the majority of the voices that reach readers and listeners ears come from a place of privilege. When I say that, I mean a place of economic and social comfort. Largely written from the upper or middle strata, with false roots reaching down into the lower earth.

I come from that lower place. Fortune has sometimes elevated me to a perch amongst the cultural treetops from which I can assay the way the wind blows; I hear the voices of those that live amongst the tallest branches and, like a chameleon, blend in. I think some of the most powerful inspirations for my own fiction come from that same place. Contentious, bold, angry, and fierce. Often unconcerned with what those around them may think about the words they spat unto the page. My influences often defied traditional critique and, instead, I decided to stay truest to them and to write about the present and the future in which I inhabit.

Jack London is perhaps one such example.

Leaving aside his wikipedia biography, which can be quickly summarized as “man who comes from drudgery and illegal pirate work turns to literary success” (my own dream), London’s prose has been immortalized. From the entertaining and existential White Fang to the scorchingly satirical The Iron Heel — perhaps the first fully-realized socialistic dystopia — London was able to spread his ideas and philosophy to the general population. Not only that, but he brought some real substance to the entertainment.

Ernest Everhard is the protagonist of The Iron Heel. Not many folks have bothered to crack this book in recent times, and to me, that’s a wonder — particularly given the popularity of teen or YA dystopia in the last few years. One of the first modern dystopias, The Iron Heel shows a strong, proud socialist in Ernest Everhard. His very name is a blatant play on words. Thrown into the verbal pit against capitalists and selfish aristocrats of all stripes, the boxer-cum-philosopher dispenses smackdown after smackdown on the conservative and authoritarian mores of the time — and ours.

Khalil Madi, Domina, and the Coal Worm all represent a rejection of these values, and a commitment to the power of the self. The rejection of fate and the substitution of a new creed — carving one’s own path. That’s what speculative fiction is for me, and likely for London — the ability to transcend our own bonds and the constraints of our lives and to project a “perfect” that, emblematically, represents the best hope for a better future.

Having been raised on [Capt.] Picardian ethics and mixing it up with a few lessons from the school of hard knocks, I feel that there is a call for a new type of fiction that understands the need for spectacle while also inviting a discussion of greater themes. Hasn’t this always been the strength of the greatest science fiction and fantasy?

Nicholas Morine was born and raised in Gaspereau, Nova Scotia. Words are his livelihood. He has written many words on a range of subjects, from tech to fashion. Having returned to Nova Scotia, he continues to write non-fiction and fiction. Montag Press published his debut novel, Punish the Wicked: A Dystopian Horror. Problematic Press is proud to present Cavern: City in the Dark, his second novel.

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