Can You Solve This Puzzle?
Hint: Being a computer geek will help
As puzzles go this one is fairly easy to crack. It contains part of a message which may reveal… well, we will get to that.
Here is the puzzle — can you decipher it?
Some readers will have absolutely no trouble with this.
They will immediately recognize the nature of the key needed to convert this screed of numbers and letters into plain English.
Now, I am not going to solve the puzzle for you. But I will give you a clue, just in case you are one of the many who will not recognize the hint at the bottom of the graphic shown above. The bit that says:
Segmentation fault (core dumped) debreu:52>
Catherine Debreu is a postdoctoral student working at the San Diego biotechnology company Immunological Technologies.
Every time Catherine attempts to run her protein-folding program she is meet with the mess above. Her computer is trying to tell her something. But she has no idea what that might be.
This is because she is a biologist and not a computer scientist. Nor for the most part will be the readers of Ninth Day of Creation, the techno-thriller now uploaded to Medium in which Catherine is one of the characters.
Twenty-five years ago when I began writing this story there were no online platforms for presenting voracious readers with entire works of fiction. Today there is, and although a large portion of its readers might not be aware of it, Medium is one of those online platforms. With a little perseverance you can publish works of any length whatsoever to its pages. Writers usually do not take advantage of this feature, but they could.
What this means is that I have been able to recreate my entire book on Medium. Not as a series of piecewise-published stories, but as an integrated unit.
For most readers, this will mean absolutely nothing. But for those who have ever enjoyed reading a techno-thriller… well, here is another one.
Better yet, reading the book will not cost you a penny. Not if you are a subscriber. And even if you are not a subscriber you can still read the first third of the book for free.
For the moment though, forget about my book and consider the possibilities, now that you know authors can publish full-length works to the pages of Medium.
If your favorite authors were to upload their works here, would you support them by reading their books on Medium?
At the moment this is more of an idea than a reality. Because while a writer can upload their works and specify exactly which portion of each book should be free to read, and which portion should only be made available to subscribers, almost no writers are taking advantage of this possibility.
But I am sure they would consider it if Medium readers were to show some desire for access to full-length works.
If you would like to know more about my own motivation for bringing a print title to Medium I have written about this in Full-Length Fiction Comes To Medium.
If you are a writer yourself and you are curious about what it takes to bring a full-length work to Medium then you can find all the details in How To Publish Your Full-Length Novel Or Any Other Book To Medium.
If you are a reader and your curiosity about the puzzle at the top of this story got you to this point, but you are not sure you see yourself as an armchair computer science detective, do not worry. I have embedded into my story all the astute and knowledgeable characters you will need to solve the various computational, biological, militaristic, and political puzzles you will come across in the pages of the book.
Here is another one:
This time however, no matter how astronomically large your IQ, you will not be able to figure out the meaning of the star symbols shown above.
You will not be able to do it because I am providing no clues. This is the same predicament the hero of the story, a genius no less, finds himself in when he attempts to uncover the nature of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a colleague.
Reader, if you want to crack the star map and also discover what turned up in Catherine Debreu’s garbled computer output, and you do not mind being forced to do one-arm bicep curls during your next workout because it is the only exercise you think you can perform without putting the book down, then allow me to show you how to get started:
Estimated reading time: 20 hours
Intended audience: Fans of hard core science, political intrigue, suspense, and blue water adventure (submarine warfare)
Anticipated enjoyment factor: Off the charts
Oh, what the heck.
It does feel cruel not to provide you with at least one clue as to the nature of that “star map”. So you will find it embedded in the opening photograph of this story. But no matter, it will not be enough to help you arrive at the correct answer.
Not unless you are a bona fide genius.
Other writing-related curiosities for you to consider, courtesy of Mr. Crane: