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As the 20th century draws to a close, a container ship heads for Punta Arenas, on the Straits of Magellan at Chile's southern tip. On board is Oliver Griffin, a Spaniard of Irish origin obsessed with invisibility. In the city's museum, Griffin seeks out the automaton he has seen his grandparents embracing in a honeymoon photograph. This fearsome metal warrior is a sixteenth-century robot, a relic of a proposed mechanical army, commissioned by Philip II of Spain to guard the strait against the English. The automaton was discovered on Desolation Island by a grieving woman scouring the archipelago for the bodies of her shipwrecked husband and son. Spanning four full centuries of adventure, 'Desolation Island' is a classic seafaring tale, striking at the heart of that eternal mystery: our obsession with the sea, as terrible as it is irresistible.
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