The desert island survival kit

We’ve all been asked what five objects we’d take with us to a desert island. Now it’s your best friend’s (or close relative’s) turn to be stranded: what five objects would you send him/her off with?

I’m tempted to cheat this one, and go with “Five Other People”.

Except of course that we’re saddling our poor castaway with other problems by doing so. Community survival can be an even worse prospect, particularly if the individuals in the group aren’t carefully selected for compatibility and skills.

We’ve seen Survivor. Small groups make life even more difficult, although some shared-burden benefits exist (re: loneliness, cooperation, etc.). You’ve also got five more mouths to feed. Adding more people just alters the problem.

Four nannies and a billy goat? Four hens and a rooster? Attempt to solve the most immediate issue of hunger; but surely they’d be devoured long before they could breed another generation of food.

Sunblock? Is exposure a more imminent danger on a desert island than (say) fresh water?

There’s a lot of things in our premise that aren’t explained; what sort of island, are other resources available? Trees or only blazing sunlight? Fresh water available? How about food?

But let’s accept, as given, that we are discussing an Island at least as blessed with resources as Robinson Crusoe had. Plentiful food resources, construction materials to work with, shelter and basic tools at hand.

Rob’s primary issue, initially, was one of tools. Only so much you can make with a knife. Defoe actually provided Rob with a little bit of a cheat; materials from a wrecked ship, primary tools useful to make other tools.

Assuming my lonely friend is as well provided for by deus ex machina as Robinson then–five things to send with him to this island just to make his stay more pleasant:

(1) Compatible person (not choosing Rob’s mate or anything, just somebody to talk with, as Defoe did.)
(2) Literature. Going to go with Defoe’s cheat here and provide more than one (as a single item), of course. Rob is entertained.
(3) Weapon. Rob, of course, eventually meets other people who are not quite as sociable. We’d like Rob to have a fair shot at surviving this encounter.
(4) Knowledge. Rob needs some skills he may not possess, maybe some of that Literature in (2) could be in the form of How-To books.
(5) Hope. Distant ships on the horizon, footprints in the sand, whatever Rob needs to keep his hopes up.

Have I cheated too much? I don’t think so, Robinson Crusoe was certainly a good read, despite the Author outright handing Rob many (most?) of his solutions.

As long as you aren’t too heavy-handed about it, you can provide your protagonist a helping noodge from time to time, can’t you?

RecDave Seal

Make sure the island isn’t owned by someone named “Dr. Moreau”