The Red One

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"The Red One"
First collection edition
AuthorJack London
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Publication typeMagazine
PublisherThe Cosmopolitan
Publication date1918

"The Red One" is a short story by Jack London. It was first published in the October 1918 issue of The Cosmopolitan,[1] two years after London's death. The story was reprinted in the same year by MacMillan, in a collection of London's stories of the same name.[2]


The story is told from the perspective of a scientist called Bassett, who is on an expedition in the jungle of Guadalcanal to collect butterflies. The "Red One" of the title refers to a giant red sphere, of apparently extraterrestrial origin, that the headhunting natives worship as their god and to which they perform human sacrifices. Bassett becomes obsessed with the Red One and in the end is sacrificed himself.

The story's theme was suggested to London by his friend George Sterling: a message is sent from an alien civilization but is lost in the wilderness. [3] There are parallels to Joseph Conrad's short novel Heart of Darkness.[citation needed]

Critics have noted the possible influence of Carl Jung on the story, as London became aware of Jung's ideas at around the time of writing "The Red One" in 1916. [4]

The story makes an enigmatic reference to helmeted figures, perhaps the Red One's alien crew. Here, London may have anticipated the ancient astronauts of science fiction and pseudoscience.[5]

The U.S. copyright on "The Red One" has expired, and the story is available on Project Gutenberg.[6]


  1. ^ "Fiction of Jack London". p. 31. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  2. ^ Suvin, Darko; Douglas, David. "Jack London and His Science Fiction: An Annotated Chronological Select Bibliography". Science Fiction Studies. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  3. ^ Jeanne Campbell Reesman (February 15, 2009). Jack London's Racial Lives: A Critical Biography. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0820327891.
  4. ^ Leonard Cassuto and Jeanne Campbell Reesman (1998). "The Myth of Hope in Jack London's 'The Red One'". Rereading Jack London. Stanford University Press.
  5. ^ David A. Moreland (1984). "The Quest that Failed: Jack London's Last Tales of the South Seas". Pacific Studies.
  6. ^ London, Jack (1918). "The Red One". Project Gutenberg.

External links[edit]