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Top 10 Mysterious Islands in Fiction

Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

Islands have appeared in works of fiction since time immemorial (as you will see in item 1), and they are often the location of mysterious or unusual happenings. In tribute to the series finale of ABC’s Lost, and the opening of a new Island of Adventure (the Harry Potter area) at Universal’s amusement park in Florida, below is a list of the Top Ten Mysterious Islands in Fiction in reverse chronological order.

10

The Island

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First appeared in: Lost (2004)

“The Island” is the major setting of a six seasons long television show, as well as a video game that featured time travel, slave ships, supernatural monsters, large deadly non-native-to-the-island animals, hidden treasures, scary scientists, potential to sink into the ocean, super villains, references to antiquity, etc. i.e. just about as much of a combination of the various aspects of the remaining islands rolled into one.


9

Shang Tsung’s Island

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First appeared in: Mortal Kombat (1992)

Shang Tsung’s Island appears as the tournament setting in a video game version of the secret martial arts tournament – a premise seen in such earlier films as Enter the Dragon. It adds much more in the way of the supernatural, and, in 1995, resurfaced in the theatrically released film version. Shang Tsung is a powerful and deadly wizard, and primary antagonist in the series, and is a shapeshifter who absorbs the souls of those he slays in order to maintain his youth and power.

8

Isla Nublar

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First appeared in: Jurassic Park (1990)

For the film, Spielberg used the island of Kauai as a stand in for Isla Nublar (intended to mean “Cloud Island” in Spanish). Aside from serving as the primary location of a blockbuster film and novel, Isla Nublar is perhaps the only island people can actually visit, in a manner of speaking, due to its replication as one of the Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando.

7

Arkham Island

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First appeared in: Batman #258 (1974)

Over the years, the Batman franchise added many special batcaves to the story line – it is the Arkham batcave that is associated with Arkham Island, and the asylum there (which undoubtedly adds to its mysterious nature). With appearances in major comic books, films and video games, the island serves as a setting of bizarre and creepy villains and harrowing violence. Most recently, video game players can experience the Island in the 3D “Game of the Year” release of Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PlayStation 3.

6

Han’s Island

Enter The Dragon

First appeared in: Enter the Dragon (1973)

The Asian island served as one of the alternate titles for the film (Han’s Island), and as the main setting for a mysterious martial arts competition, setting the stage for such later, similarly plotted, (albeit more fantastical) films as Mortal Kombat (1995). Interestingly, a similarly named island (Hans Island) is a tiny island in the Nares Strait over which both Canada and Denmark claim ownership. This disputed claim led to a Google war as each nation spammed Google search results in support of their ownership.


5

Skull Island

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First appeared in: King Kong (1933)

Skull Island is the home of the eponymous King Kong and several other species of creatures, mostly prehistoric, and in some cases species that should have been extinct long before the rise of mammalian creatures such as gorillas, along with a primitive society of humans. It is the main setting of three major films and a tie-in video game of the most recent film, as well as a pseudo-documentary and companion book about expeditions to and the animal life on the island.

4

The Island of Doctor Moreau

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First appeared in: The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896)

Multiple film adaptations, and the whole notion of animal experimentation by a mad scientist, serves as a definite precursor to Jurassic Park, if not the varied research by the Dharma Initiative and even the Ben Linus-era Others, on Lost. The island is home to Dr Moreau, who spends his time creating animal-human hybrids, who terrorize the book’s protagonist. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was formed two years after the publication of the novel.

3

Treasure Island

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First appeared in: Treasure Island (1883)

Treasure Island is a tale of “pirates and buried gold” by Robert Louis Stephenson. In addition to the numerous film and television adaptations of the novel, the characters, setting and events of this novel have greatly influenced the modern imagery of pirates, including treasure maps with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands and one-legged seamen with parrots on their shoulders.

2

Lincoln Island

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First appeared in: The Mysterious Island (1874)

The original “mysterious island” that first appeared in a novel has since served as the main plot location in at least a half dozen films. Mysterious Island (the book) was a sequel to Verne’s famous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways, though, thematically, it is vastly different from those books. While on the island, the main characters find a message in a bottle which serves as part of the mystery theme.

1

Atlantis

Atlantis-City

First appeared in: Timaeus (360 BC) by Plato

Arguably the inspiration for many of the other islands listed above, Atlantis’s appearances on television and in video games is incredibly diverse, from being playable levels in Arctic Thunder and Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, to the titular location in television’s Stargate Atlantis. Of course, while we are reasonably confident that no actual island has housed Dr. Moreau’s experiments, smoke monsters or Batman’s arch-nemesis, Atlantis may have actually existed. Sure, the search for it has attracted the attention of such fictional heroes as Indiana Jones, but many real life archaeologists and explorers, alike, have devoted much time and effort in that quest as well.