Saturday, 30 November 2013

Nine or Ten Clues ?

So where are we ? Short answer is not very far forward I'm afraid, assuming there are mysteries left to uncover we haven't got a handle on what they are.

I thought I'd post about a couple of things that haven't been mentioned in a main post, but have been discussed in comments or emails.

First of all are these two pictures from @RadioStraka the first to be sent was the poem written on a wooden door. What is odd / interesting about this is that, as ObFuSc8 told us via Twitter, the first verse and a little of the second appear to be taken from a poem published by Illy Kotz in 2010

Perhaps Radio Straka just likes the poem, or part of it at least, but who added to it and put it on a door ?

The second picture was the birds as you can see, this coupled with the twitter feed for @EricHusch changing to the image you can see here, two of the S. symbols which when arranged like this have a picture of a bird between them may be significant.

These led to a few people speculating about the chapter 9 cipher that we don't currently know how to solve.

The Chapter title is "Birds of Negative Space" and the space where the bird appears in the EH profile picture is most definitely negative space.

So do we use this bird to solve the cipher, or is this a pointer that we need to find out own negative space in this chapter ? Mark Voorneveld commented that perhaps we need to use the cut out parts of the S. symbol to find a hidden message, but as yet I've been unable to find anything.

Finally for now is the suggestion that came from Karen via email, since the clue from J J Abrams last week was Ten, perhaps there are alternative versions or at least small differences in the pages of chapter 10.

I don't want to post the whole chapter here, but I have posted three pages which I think are significant and if you can check your own version of S. maybe we can find some differences.


  1. Ok I'm not very good at figuring out codes, it's just not how my brain works. That being said, I'm going to say this in the hopes that it gives someone an idea on how to figure out the code. What if you're supposed to use a mirror on something? The image with the S is a mirror image. Also on the twitter feeds for Eric and Jen they talked about pfeifer/sandpiper and posted a picture of a sandpiper on the shore, looking down at its mirror image. There are definite hints at 1) birds, and 2) mirror images.

  2. Jen and Eric do seem to be posting potential clues on Twitter though nothing outright obvious about solving the chapter codes. Last night's tweets about locating the page numbers for the "torrent of words" on P.381 may be useful - I only have a hard copy of the book, does anyone have a searchable digital version they could use to look them up?

    Also, the references made to the pirate Covarrubias "mentioned 8 times on 6 pages: (ix, 64, 210, 266, 410, 426)" - the last one isn't right though (at least not in my book, unless it's in the original manuscript.

    1. Amanda, where did you see the page # references for Covarrubias? I mis-read that it was tweeted by Jen/Eric, but I couldn't find it when I looked at their twitter feeds.

    2. This should link you through to the status:

      Click through to see more in the conversation.

      In the book margin notes there's also reference to "the mines" not being referenced in FXCs version, though it apparently is in Straka's original (don't have the book handy to give you page no. now, will look up shortly).

    3. I don't have a reference on 426 either. There doesn't seem to be much there. The page talks about the flammable wine, a bit about Vevoda and a note about Edvar VI being nothing. The margin notes discuss Serin and traveling to Paris. Not sure where there could be any code.

    4. Tonzi -- that's a typo or mistake on that twitter. The 6th page# is 416 for what that's worth. Those twitter accounts seem shady.

    5. Seems like @jentheundergrad and @erichusch are SFiles22 lurkers =)

  3. I compared my version of Ch10 to my husband's and to the ebook (Obsessed? Yes, yes I am.) and they are identical. They also match the pages posted above. However, I'm intrigued by the tweeted list of Covarrubias page references. Like Amanda, I'm seeing the last reference on a different page - 416 in my book. Different version of Ch10??

    I've also been working on finding the references for the p.381 phrases. They are proving to be pretty tricky for the most part. Having the ability to search the ebook is not as much of an advantage as I would have expected as some of the phrases use synonyms or you had to have done some research previously to get the reference. Here's what I've got so far:

    Saint's manifestation - p.7 (there is a St. Sola - who knew?)
    spinning bicycle wheel - p.103
    love-struck adventurer...- p.367 (Mercury)
    trenches - p.332 (I believe the footnote describes the Zanja de Alsina in Argentina)
    smell of warm holiday cakes - p.24
    bank notes... - possibly p.233 but not sure if between pink hands - maybe just from pink hands?
    tent-city aflame - p.311
    RR tracks... - p.299 (Sarajevo>Budapest train through the Dinarides)
    vanished tribe... - p148? not sure on this one - the K--- are talked about other places as well. Could be something else entirely.
    young woman aboard ship... - p.116

    Anyone else found any of the others?

    1. Lady Lobster, you're a star for looking these up! My Kindle is an old 3rd generation and likely incompatible (or at least terrible) for the digital version or I would have bought it!

      No mention of "infinite regret"? Makes me wonder if FXC put that in, or possibly in Straka version.

  4. I really wish we could determine once and for all if the Jen and Eric Twitter accounts are in-game or not. They are pretty well done thus far and have stayed completely in character, but still nothing there yet to confirm them. @RadioStraka is the only Twitter account we can say is confirmed at this point.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Edit: sorry, typo.

      Agreed. This morning they referenced the napkin map included in S., indicating a linkage between the pirate Covarrubias (which means Red Cave, by the way), his insignia and possibly treasure (frigate bird) and the cormorant lake shown on the map. Eric also mentions the boathouse, which was described in the newspaper segment was recently being under renovation.

      This is the strange, even for such a convoluted metafiction, as it seems to imply some present day connection between the campus and the Ship of Theseus purportedly written many years before.

    3. Some things seem a little too convenient about them and they have made mistakes (or at least seem to have). Given how meticulously put together the novel is, I would hope that the online extensions would have nearly as much eye for detail.

    4. Personally, I think the character @jentheundergrad is seeing patterns which aren't really there. Meaning, we're been given *some* clues amid the daily banter of meaningless twitterature related to S.

      I'm pretty certain those two Twitter accounts are part of "the game", and are meant to draw us even further into the realm of metafiction, perhaps even as characters in the story as it evolves beyond the book (in an earlier tweet, we were referred to as "lurkers"). Either that, or those two are seriously invested in the S. mysteries and ought to head over to SFiles22 to help us solve the puzzles right now!

      You might also want to take a look at @kmvastra (S Fortunus). He/she has posted some rather odd and intriguing images which make me wonder if they could be among the 80 or so pieces of ephemera which were considered but not included in the final published book.

      Speaking of which, has anyone figured out why the Desjardins card with Strakas poem on the reverse is important/relevant? I think I could have missed the reference on my first pass of the book.

    5. Yeah, I share the wariness that the Eric/Jen tweets might contain false clues as well. I certainly think they are in game participants, at the least. Too well done to be fakes. I wish there was a way to discern which clues to take seriously...

      The @kmvastra feed is a bit more questionable. It appears to be the only related twitter user that will actually respond to non-game element tweets. And, if you look at its various statements, the comments are abstract and, at least so far, not helpful. I'm thinking S Fortunus is a member of the reading community doing some role playing.

    6. I'm inclined to agree with MrToasty on this. ARG/viral marketing hijackers are pretty common so I don't usually accept anything as "in-game" unless the account can provide something official.

      The @JenTheUndergrad & @EricHusch twitter accounts seem pretty suspicious to me. They seem more like fan role-play accounts with the Jen character's personality being RPed only slightly more accurately than Eric's. While Jen & Eric in the novel do a little brainstorming, Jen is pretty meticulous about her research and doesn't just adopt a throw everything against the wall and see what sticks approach. In the novel, Eric remains pretty guarded (having only just bought a cell phone) and Jen actually becomes more guarded after the fires. It's a bit of a stretch to see them publicly tweeting away - I'd expect them to tweet each other in code, at the least. And the @EricHusch twitter has a much better sense of humor than Eric in the novel.

      The Jen/Eric twitters also seem too reactionary to be "in-game". They began tweeting as if they were apart, then after I tweeted at them, saying I thought they were together in Prague, @EricHusch tweeted claiming it was an act. In the same tweet, I asked specifically what they thought of the Chapter 10 code and later the same day @JenTheUndergrad began tweeting about Chapter 10. She correctly references specific geographic locations & the Eotvos Wheel but includes Straka book #'s. I'd expect "in-game" accounts to know what Jen & Eric would have known by the end of the novel, including cipher solutions & methods. I also highly doubt that any official "in-game" account would simply tweet solutions to ciphers/codes not already revealed in the book.

      The information put out by the Jen & Eric twitters is sometimes observant but often either inaccurate or irrelevant. I admit, @EricHusch's S. symbol bird of negative space is quite nice, but while cormorants and frigatebirds are related, cormorants are not friagtebirds.

      As I said, I'm trying not to be too dismissive. There's a small probability that these are just sloppily run "in-game" accounts, or that they're trying to hide actual clues amongst the slop, but like Mr.Toasty, I'd also really would hope any online extensions of the novel would as meticulous with detail.

    7. I'm also trying not to be too immediately dismissive of @KMVastra and @whoisstraka and the website but they're all pretty suspicious as well.

      @KMVastra started by tweeting all the other seemingly Straka-related accounts, including "cease and desist" at @SFiles22. It tweeted the website pretty quickly. It's been somewhat whiny about it's dearth of followers yet rather exclusionary in it's interactions. Amanda has been doing a great job trying prod the account for more information. Nothing his account tweets is useful though - the pic of the Morpho theseus butterfly was nice but I see no relevance outside of the species name "theseus". The Havana pic is found easily on the internet and is an obvious reference. The Keszthely image is from this POSTCARD BLOG, and I don't see the relevance. I haven't found any massacres or labor incidents that happened there. I checked to see if it's coordinates on the Wheel are in any way related or associated with something in the book, but that really seems like a stretch. I may have give in and actually follow the account to see if I can tease more out of it.

      While it's interesting that the website appeared on Nov 19th, why would Mullholand/Bad Robot wait that long to register an in-game website, especially with a URL that is so obvious? The progression from pencil/paper codes/ciphers to online encryption may seem logical in real life but doesn't fit with the spirit of the book (at least not to me). If anything, this site actually takes time/concentration away from the book without providing any additional information.

      Given how quickly @KMVastra tweeted about the website and the tone of some of the tweets, it wouldn't surprise me if they are all being run by the same person attempting to hijack interest.

    8. Ha, and corrections are now posted :)
      "Can't sleep. Hearing voices. Reviewing Covarrubias, 426 should be 416 & cormorants are only RELATED to frigatebirds. I need help."

      It's always wise to be cautious of accounts and websites that are created AFTER a viral starts. That's not to say it does't happen that legitimate ones pop up after, but most of the time they are not official.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hello. I made a small discovery regarding the photos of the poem and the doorway with the birds. Both images can be found here and are attributed to a street artist by the name of Seven Sisters. Seven Sisters is also known as the Pleides. You will need to look at the grid layout or scroll through the slideshow to find those two images. link I tweeted Radio Straka under my twitter account (sistertsion) the following two messages: "@RadioStraka Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno, Alcyone, Atlas and Pleione. For whom does the bell toll?" (related to the poem on the wall that echoes John Donne's poem) and "@RadioStraka The Seven Sisters shine brightly" for the doorway with the birds. Unrelated but I discovered the location of the tweet of 10/28/13 of Hawaii. It is Hana. So I tweeted "@RadioStraka Heaven meets earth in Hana." That's one of the legends of Hana. Where heaven meets earth. Finally, the tweet on 10/28/2013 regarding the death of the needletail. I tweeted back "@RadioStraka A long way from home to reach Scotland." I found this image and the related article here:

    1. Interesting observation about the legend of Hana! Here is another thought on Chapter 9 that relates to birds in Hawaii that I stumbled upon independently...

      In the marginalia on p382, Eric and Jen discuss the fact that Summersby, in a letter to Ekstrom, said "you all have our best wishes." Much is made of you all. I am from Texas (where Doug Dorst resides), and the first thing to come to mind is how I would never say you all. I would say, y'all. The "empty space" of the apostrophe in y'all takes the place of OU. ʻŌʻū happens to be a bird, native to Hawaii, that is feared extinct (negative space)?

    2. I thought that the point of him bringing up "you all" is that there is another person now, "you all" instead of "you two". Signe Rabe was born on 11/4/30 in Perignon (pg.361). Durande's hospital stay was mentioned by Summersby to Ekstron in Oct of 1930. Maybe she was bedridden for the last part of her pregnancy?

  7. Thoughts on Chapter 9: Birds of Negative Space, including negative space, palimpsests atop palimpsests, and the number 9.

  8. Am I completely crazy, or does this actually make any sense? Taking a hint on Eric's comment about "Paul is dead" theory of conspiracy, somewhere in the book; and the inverted "S" picture on his Twitter profile, I decided to read page 382 again. This time I read it from bottom to top and from left to right, starting from "a bird of negative space". What I got, seems to be some kind of hidden message and yes, for what I consider better clarity, I reorganized some words.


    Is that some kind of warning from Straka to Filomena or maybe Summersby? These are my notes:
    -It seems to me that some ally has changed sides (it's finally giving up all its color).
    - Was "the bird" bribed? It accepts something greedily.
    - It's getting closer to Straka/his target (outward spreading into the snow).
    - The pigment is not the bird's blood (reference to the substance?).
    - Has been pierced by a bullet (who? Straka? Sign that he barely made it alive after meeting whoever is hunting him?).
    - His breast struggling in the snow (reference to his location? Somewhere further north where the temperatures are lower? The so-called Winter City as a real world city? Prague? Jen complains about being cold a lot towards the end of the book...).
    - On its back a black bird (he is being followed? his location has been compromised?)
    - S. not in the winter city/ Has dreamed that he did not see S. in the winter city (is that a warning that he is no longer in the "winter city"?)
    - No birds are there (Winter City is no longer safe).

    Yeah... maybe I’ve gone crazy. Maybe it makes sense or maybe I just hit another dead end following a fake clue... Just some thoughts, anyway.

    1. Well, I don't know if you are right or not but I applaud your work anyway! It's an interesting read in that direction. Nicely done, regardless.


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