Lost Book Club: 'The Mysterious Island'

Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly, plus special guest Jay Glatfelter of "The Lost Podcast With Jay and Jack"
Friday, December 12, 2008; 2:00 PM

In Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island," a group of people crash land on an island and soon discover they're being watched. Sound a little like "Lost"? Of course it does.

That's why "Lost" bloggers Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly will discuss the book -- the December selection in our "Lost" Book Club -- on Friday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. ET. They will be accompanied by a special guest: Jay Glatfelter, co-host of the fan favorite "Lost Podcast With Jay and Jack." Join them to discuss the book, its connections to the Oceanic 815 survivors and what we might expect from season five of the series, which begins in January.

For more "Lost," visit's "Lost" Hub for show-by-show analyses,"Lost" Madness results and to review last year's book club selections.

Liz Kelly's day job is as Celebritology blogger, while Jen Chaney presides as Movies editrix. Both consider "Lost"-watching a passion.


Liz Kelly: We'll get started momentarily folks...


Jen Chaney: Hola, fellow castaways. Welcome to the "Lost" Book Club discussion of Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island."

A couple of extra-special things about today's discussion. First: We have prizes! We have some copies of the stellar "Lost: Season Four" DVD, which I reviewed this week. Two, maybe even three, lucky readers could snag one IF they can successfully do the following: Summarize "The Mysterious Island's" relevance to "Lost" in one sentence that is both pithy and amusing.

Example: "The Mysterious Island" is like "Lost" because it is about an island that is also, apparently, mysterious.

You can do better than that, of course. Whoever delivers the best sentence wins a DVD, so get into writing mode.

Now, over to Liz to introduce our special guest....

Liz Kelly: But first, I have to say that Jen has set the bar particularly high with her pithy comment. Good thing she already has a copy of Season 4 on DVD. Otherwise, she just might've gotten my vote.

We're also joined today by Jay Glatfelter, co-host of the highly instructive "Lost Podcast With Jay and Jack." (linked above). It's a great week for Jay to join us considering the DVD release, the emergence of at least two -- I think it's two -- trailers for the new season and a cast photo that has been causing a little bit of controversy.

Without further ado...


Relevance to Lost: Lost and the Mysterious Island are both similar in that nothing ever gets answered to anyone's satisfaction.

Jen Chaney: Dang! First rule about the contest: Hating on the show does not win DVDs. We want the winners to actually want to watch it. Call us crazy...


Anonymous: Did you know that there is a dish called Jules Verne potatoes created by the man himself ? I can get you the recipe if you like.

Jen Chaney: Please do. Perhaps we can make some to eat during the season premiere.

Liz Kelly: Mmm mm. Sounds lovely. Verne was an interesting bird. Aside from the potatoes, another interesting tidbit is that Verne was once shot by his 25-year-old nephew, who then spent the rest of his life in an asylum.

Jay Glatfelter: Also Doc Brown from Back to the Future named his kids after Jules Verne. I dont know why i always remember that when I hear the name. Oh wait yes im a nerd.


I never win anything !: Mysterious Island is relevant to Lost because if Disney has an endgame it's a mystery to them too.

Jen Chaney: I like this, although I take exception to the idea that Disney has something to do with what happens on the show. I mean, obviously they own and distribute the content, but I like to think LindeCuse and co. are the ones really masterplanning all this, no? Am I a rube?

That said, you're in the running.


Anonymous: Hello, Lost Ladies!

I'm sure you two are on the Dharma Initiative mailing list. Were you able to download the ring tones in the last e-mail? It didn't work on my iPhone and I was curious to know what they sounded like.

I'm enjoying the LindeCruise clips almost as much as the DI games. I'm really not sorry they had to drop the "recruitment" scheme and love getting this stuff before it hits the general public.


Liz Kelly: Nope, I didn't download the ringtones. Maybe someone else out there can clue us in.

As for the demise of the Dharma recruitment initiative, think of it as yet another casualty of the foundering economy. There wasn't a bailout option in this case, I assume.

Jen Chaney: Actually, that was the joke of it all. ABC honestly didn't want to fund whatever elaborate scheme they had cooked up for an ARG, so Hans Egan sent an e-mail to all the Dharma recruits (I qualified to be a cook!) saying he was resigning or some such.

Man, what a waste paying that wacky kid to come to Comic-Con and uncover the Dharma "conspiracy" during the "Lost" panel. That guy? Totally stayed at the same hotel as Liz and I did.

As for the ringtones, I didn't get this week's e-mail! Must have gotten lost in the ether. Jay, did you?

Jay Glatfelter: I got the email but I didn't try out the ringtone, but I know of quite a few of our listeners that has gotten the ringtone though.


Potatoes Jules Verne: Recipe turns out to be sort of like making potato chips except you don't cut thru entire slice but leave potato intact...

Jay Glatfelter: The mystery of LOST has been solved! Its a recipie for potato chips

Jen Chaney: That reminds me of the Ovaltine moment in "A Christmas Story": "A crummy commercial??"

That would severely stink if that's all "Lost" turned out to be. Although they would score points for best marketing stunt ever.


How Mysterious Island is Like Lost: The Mysterious Island is relevant with regards to "Lost" in that both are stories that are REALLY about smart dogs (Top and Vincent) who know more than the humans do about the islands.

Jen Chaney: Perhaps not pithy, but certainly accurate. Also, we like dogs. So ... contender.

Jay Glatfelter: More importantly in both Mythos there is an Orangutan named Joop

Jen Chaney: Yes, something that is going to come up very soon in the chat... (I'm like Desmond, I can see the future.)


Invasion of the Podcasts: What exactly makes this a pod cast ? I'm still just sitting right here at home eatting peas...oh I get it.

Jen Chaney: This is not a podcast. Our special guest Jay does a podcast, so I think that's why one of our colleagues labeled it that way.

That said, next time we host one of these, we plan to turn it into a podcast ... hosted during the '70s.

And that means we can play "Shamabala" A LOT. Which reminds me: Hope you people checked out our "Lost" iMix!

(Jay, has our "Lost" obsessiveness freaked you out yet? How about now?)

Jay Glatfelter: Trust me in all of my travels and many comic cons, you are perfectly normal fans ;)


Re: The new DVD: Do you have a favorite extra or easter egg?

I loved the "Right to bear arms" featureette.

Jen Chaney: Off the top of my head ... loved the Damon Easter egg about Plastic-Man, which I mention in my review. It is apropos of nothing and only partially makes sense to me, but that is why it is genius.

And I thought the interactive flash forward feature was clever and enormously helpful. Liz and I have been talking about the importance of having a chronological timeline of events for ages, and now this gets us partially there.


Odenton, Md.: Lost and the Mysterious Island share one important figure that only a fanboy could care about - Joop the Orangutan.

Where's Jack? Too busy "writing" his log carrying guy song?

Jen Chaney: Thank you, Odenton! Joop popped up in the first "Lost" ARG, which again connects this whole thing back to Hanso. See what I mean here.

Jay, I'll let you address Jack and his musical prowess.

Jay Glatfelter: Thank the frozen donkey wheel that Jack is taking a hiatus from writing songs...


This chat is a mystery: This chat is kind of "Mysterious" and I feel like an Island out here by myself. Are you all still there or is this a cruel joke on me ?

Jen Chaney: We've been publishing answers, we swear. Hopefully you see them now.


Alexandria, Va.: I didn't read the book -- for some reason I have little tolerance for Jules Verne -- but I did come across something that I thought related pretty well to "Lost." I was surfing through Wikipedia one day while I was bored at work and came across the Bermuda Triangle page. From there I found something called the "vile vortices." They're fairly evenly spaced locations around the world where "mysterious things" seem to happen. One of these seems to be right around where the Lost island seems to have been. (Of course, these places have no scientific bearing, but have legends like the Bermuda Triangle).

My guess is that the island will turn up in one of the other locations. Any thoughts?

Liz Kelly: Yes, this turning up in other places notion makes me think of one of my favorite cheesy movies, "Krull."

Jen Chaney: Liz looks for any excuse she can to refer to "Krull."

On one of the season four commentary tracks, Carlton Cuse more or less says that when the island disappeared last season it went into a wormhole, which is not entirely different from the phenomena you're describing with the vile vortices.

And the writers have placed extra emphasis on the fact that it's not so much "where" the island is, but "when." (Please cue the music to "Back in Time" by Huey Lewis and the News -- "Is this the '50s, or 1999?")

Actually, Miss Liz has some intel about when exactly the island might be. Care to share?

Liz Kelly: Righto. Courtesy of EW's Michael Ausiello, there is some scuttle that the Ben may have actually sent the island back to the 1970s. Which could add some interesting plot twists -- would we return to the dawn of the Dharma Initiative? Will this give Ben the chance to go back and not kill off most of the Dharma'ers? And will the show be renamed "That '70s Show?"

Jay Glatfelter: But how can the two islands coexist at the same time? I just dont see how they can effectively present that without making every viewer's brain explode

Jen Chaney: Wait, now I'm confused. Why would there be two islands? Wouldn't the island be effectively Marty McFlying back to the '70s? And that's why no one would see it in the year 2004?

Which means ... when the Oceanic Six try to go back, they are kinda screwed. And that's why all the golden tickets in the world can't get Jack back to the island! See, I've already figured it all out.

And making our heads explode is sort of the point, I guess.

Liz Kelly: That's what I assumed. But it does raise interesting wrinkles -- f'rinstance, if the island is regressed back to a few decades, how do they square having the Dharma colonists and the Losties/freighter-ites coexisting there. Do they meet?

Jay Glatfelter: See but if the island its self was transported back in time much like Marty did in BTTF. There would be 2 islands the one from 1970 and the one from 2004.

So if they stay in the same place, wouldn't one get squashed?

Jen Chaney: Ah, I get you, Jay. I'm answering this, then publishing since it's become the longest chat response ever.

The writers have said no paradoxes on the show. In other words, the future cannot be changed. So their theory of time travel differs from the Robert Zemeckis/McFly Theory of Time Travel. (That's an official, scientific theory of time travel, by the way...)


Mysterious Island - have not read it...: I figure if Liz can chat about catch-22 and not have read the book, I have a right to be here too.

Jen Chaney: Everyone has a right to be here. That's our motto.

Speaking of "Catch-22," I was delayed on starting "Mysterious Island" because I was determined to finish "Catch-22," which I did. And I totally encourage all of you hated to give it another try. It's worth it, I swear.

Liz Kelly: Jen, I'm sorry. I took my copy and shredded it.

Kidding -- I donated it to the library. I enjoyed "Mysterious Island" much, much more. It's a little bit long, but a very easy read. Serialized, episodic and easy to follow. Which, after Catch-22, was a bit of a relief.


Compare and Contrast: The book "Mysterious Island" is like the series "Lost" because, if you only read the first eight chapters of the book, the story unfolds very slowly and you haven't a clue where it's goin, and if you don't stick with it and give up too soon, you never get to the really good parts with giant crabs and damsels in distress and Benry channeling Captain Nemo.

Liz Kelly: Okay, this may be to the point, but I'm not sure it meets the pithy requirement.

Jay Glatfelter: Who is LOST's Captain Nemo? I dont think Ben at all, its gotta be Jacob, or Richard Alpert

Jen Chaney: See, I thought Capt. Nemo was Magnus Hanso, captain of the Black Rock. And grandfather (I think?) to Alvar Hanso, who funded Dharma.

Liz Kelly: So that would make Jack ("Lost's" Jack) Cyrus Smith? Certainly fits -- both Jack and Smith ended up in a completely different place than the rest of their wreckages (remember, Jack awoke in a wooded part of the island -- was he, like Smith, carried out of harm's way?)

Jay Glatfelter: Would Magnus Hanso be as great as a reveal as Captain Nemo? I was definitly suprised that Captain Nemo was the "Man Behind the Curtain", so to speak.

Jen Chaney: Good point, Jay. Probably not, mainly because most of the viewers would be like, who the heck is Magnus Hanso?

But they have been referring back to the Black Rock a lot, so I feel like that ties in somehow. And the parallells between that and "Mysterious Island" struck me.

Personally, I think the big reveal should be that the man behind the curtain is Boone. You know, cause he's so good-lookin'.

Jay Glatfelter: For me I feel like Locke could very well be a Captain Nemo like suprise. Being that he is "Dead" now, and his character has enough clout like a Nemo.


L'enfant Plaza: Lost and the Mysterious Island both have themes of free will versus fate, i.e. was I fated to receive the Lost DVD from this chat, or did I receive it of my own free will?

Jen Chaney: Oh, that's good, L'enfant Plaza.

We may have one of our winners...


Houston, Tex.: The Mysterious Island is like Lost because I am unable to summarize it in a pithy single sentence.

Jen Chaney: You guys are getting better and better at this.


Anonymous: I'm serious, I'm like only one of three people here right ? Even Liz is gone playing with her cat or something. Um... I may have to cut out a bit early too...

Jen Chaney: No cutting out!

There are people here, including Liz. She just got pulled away a couple of times. Tell 'em, Liz!

Liz Kelly: Yes, unfortunately I was pulled away on important business -- whether or not we should be showing a censored version of the Jennifer Aniston GQ cover in Celebritology. The verdict, at long last: Yes.


Alexandria, Va.: How many days until new episodes?

Jen Chaney: "Lost" returns on Jan. 21. I'll leave the counting to you. But we're a little more than a month away. Can't you practically smell the excitement?


L'enfant Plaza: Both Lost and the Mysterious Island have a Man Behind the Curtain!

Jay Glatfelter: (Cue the dissonant strings,and low brass)aka a "Giacchino"

Jen Chaney: I love me some Giacchino.


Cruel but not unusual: So did anyone actually read the book this time?

Liz Kelly: I did -- and this was actually my second go round. I have a weakness for Jules Verne. The books aren't always the fastest-paced excitement, but there's something about his writing style that helps to ease the rigors of a long day spent debating the merits of nude Jennifer Aniston.

Jen Chaney: Man, that's weird. That's exactly what one of the blurbs on the back of my copy of "Mysterious Island" says.

I'll 'fess up: I read a lot of the book, then briefed myself on other elements via the Internet. I will finish, it's just that life has been hard out here for a Chaney and I haven't been meeting the book club deadlines as well as I should.

That said, I promise to read the next (and last book before the show returns), especially since it's one I have already read. We will reveal at the end of the chat, so please stay tuned!

Liz Kelly: And it's a short one -- think of it as our holiday present to everyone.


Vile Vortices Again, VA: I'm excited I caused the longest chat response ever! Do I get an honorary entry into the running for the DVD set?

Jen Chaney: Hmmm ... maybe.

Liz, Jay, what do you think? Should we have an honorable mention?

Jay Glatfelter: Hmmm Yes I do believe so

Liz Kelly: Sure, why not?


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: In the Mysterious Island, the castaways follow a cable on the beach into the sea and down to the Nautilus' hiding place, similar to the cable that leads to the Looking Glass station in Lost, though only one cable leads to a station where you need to know about "Good Vibrations."

Jen Chaney: Who wrote this sentence, William Faulkner?

Aw, I'm teasing. I like anyone who makes even indirect references to Charlie Pace.

Liz Kelly: I was thinking the sentence was more Joyce-ian. But yes, you've hit upon another of the many similarities between Lost and our selection. So, do we think there may be a fate similar to Lincoln Island's in for the Lost island? Will it be annihilated at the end of season 6?

Jen, wasn't the island in "Watchmen" -- the one where all the scientists had been spirited away to work on a secret project -- also ultimately destroyed?

Jay Glatfelter: I think so, they have been hinting at that Volcano for 4 seasons now.

Liz Kelly: What I want to know is when does Vincent Price and the evil tiki idol storyline come in to play? Maybe when we regress back to the '70s?

Jen Chaney: Yes, that indeed rings a bell. I should remember, but my brain is swimming right now ... I can see the panel, the mushroom cloud and everything.

Hadn't made that connection -- good work!


Lost in D.C.: Lost and The Mysterious Island are both about castaways from the sky who land on an island in the pacific fill with incongruous animals and fraught with danger, where everything that happens is ultimately controlled by a mysterious god-like man.

Liz Kelly: Factual, but I think you need to throw a wildcard in there somewhere to add the pithy factor. Some humor writers think the word "moist" to bring guaranteed laughs.

Jen Chaney: Another funny word: kumquat. Surely you can work that in there somewhere.


dre7861: I'm only half-way through "The Mysterious Island" not because I hated it with a passion like I did with "Catch 22" but because 'tis the season to be super busy -- well, that and I've been falling asleep on the Metro ride home of late! Not to mention Season 4 on DVD!!! While Verne can be a little pedantic at least the book is readable. One non-Lost question, Why doesn't anyone on "Survivor" ever read this book before going on the show? Wouldn't that make a cooler show? Think about it, the Yellow Mugabooga tribe would be building a kiln while the Red Tavitakitiki tribe would be making dynamite. A Cyrus Smith-type could say in tribal council: "Try voting me off this island - I just made you fire, bows and arrows and a portable DVD player from coconuts and pampas grass! Beat that!" The home under the lake alone sounds like it would be worth an immunity idol or two.

My "Lost"-"The Mysterious Island" observation regards their structure. "The Mysterious Island" is broken into 3 parts called "The Castaways From The Sky," "The Outcast" and "The Secret of the Island. How closely it follows the path of "Lost." Seasons 1 and 2 - or the first third of a 6 season run - told the story of the main cast and the Tailies, survivors dropped from the sky same as the Verne's castaways in their far-traveling balloon (like a yellow Nigerian plane carrying Yemi?). The second third of "Lost" concerns the Others. While I've just started this section of the book, I am struck that an Outcast is usually described as an other. That leaves the final two seasons, which hopefully will tell the Secret of the Island. And let's face it, as far as mysterious islands go, "Lost" has that contest won in spades!

Now for a minor rant against the spoilers of the literary world - introductions! Why do writers of introductions feel the need to blab the whole book away? Is it their way of saying that they've actually read the book? My copy had an introduction by Caleb Carr who felt the mysterious need to blab the secret of the island in a few short paragraphs. Does Mr Carr now feel like a big He-Man because he just ruined any kind of mystery, suspense or true enjoyment of reading the book for yourself. I hope Mr Carr never finds out the secret of the "Lost" Island, because he will feel obligated to hold a press conference in order to blab all. Boo Hiss to Caleb Carr!

But Happy Holidays to Jen and Liz!!!

Jen Chaney: So how do you really feel about Caleb Carr?

Probably best not to read those intros beforehand. Or perhaps the publisher should put those sorts of things at the end of the book.

I like you observation about the story structure, too. That definitely occurred to me, too.

Jay Glatfelter: I agree with your thoughts about the parts. From what the producers have said, it looks like we are going to be neck deep in Island Secrets this season.


Jay Glatfelter: I am told I need to pimp my podcast. So if you want to listen to fun discussion about the show LOST, check us out at

Jay Glatfelter: Also we have pictures of Jennifer Aniston on our show. If that helps

Liz Kelly: Wait a minute, I smell a rat -- podcasts are audio, so at the most you can describe a picture of Jennifer Aniston.

Nice try.


Jen Chaney: So we appreciate all of your good faith efforts at pithiness. But in the end, we have to choose our winners.

And they are L'Enfant Plaza, for the fate vs. free will response, and Houston, Tex., for the self-referential comment about not being able to summarize in a pithy sentence.

We also feel that our friend who mentioned the vortices is deserving of a DVD as well. Granted, he/she didn't mention the word moist, but you can't have everything.

Winners -- and bear in mind that we are operating on the honor system -- please e-mail Jen with Lost Winner in the subject line and she'll arrange a way to get those DVDs to you.

Super, bigtime thanks to Jay for joining us. Now over to Liz, who will announce our next book...

Liz Kelly: We'll be back on January 16th to discuss the final selection in this book club cycle, Stephen King's "On Writing." This is a little bit different from everything else we've read -- first off, it's short. Secondly, it is about the behind the scenes machinations that go into story-telling, something that will stand us in good stead for deconstructing and predicting where the writers are going on the show. It's also apparently a favorite of LindeCuse, so we'd imagine that it looms pretty large in the writers room.

It also was obliquely referred to by the bunny with a number 8 on its back in season.... two?

Anyhow, see you then. Have a safe and happy holiday.


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