Professor William Waterman Sherman: The protagonist of the story, who decided to travel the world by balloon upon retirement in 1883, became world famous when he was discovered among the wreckage of 20 balloons in the Atlantic Ocean, following the well-known eruption of the volcanic island of Krakatoa. He tells his story to the Western American Explorer’s Club and is adamant that only this institution should be the first to hear of it. His discovery of the amazing utopian island of Krakatoa and its subsequent destruction by its volcano is verified by the diamond cuff-links he maintains on his person, given to him from the diamond mines on Krakatoa before it was destroyed.
The families of Krakatoa: There are 20 families on the island, originally from America, and each is assigned a letter of the alphabet. The families each consist of a father, mother, son, and daughter. Each family hosts the entire island for a meal of a different international cuisine. As explained by Mr. F:
“The A.’s run an American restaurant and serve only real American cooking. You are now eating at the B.’s. This is a British chop house. The C.’s run a Chinese restaurant. The D.’s run a Dutch restaurant, the E.’s an Egyptian restaurant; you can run through the alphabet up to T. The T.’s run a Turkish coffee house.”
“And you, Mr. F., run a French restaurant?”
“It’s as easy as that,” said Mr. F.
Mr. F.: This gentleman is one of the 20 patriarchs of the island and lives with his wife, his son F-1, and his daughter F-2, in their French-styled home. He is Sherman’s guide throughout the island.
Mr. M.: The island’s “founder/discoverer.” Mr. M. was shipwrecked on Krakatoa, discovered the diamond mines, built a raft, and made his way back to civilization, where he sold several diamonds in order to finance his utopian vision for Krakatoa. He is the one who gathers the 20 families and organizes their trip.