Monday, July 21, 2008

The Digital Plague: System of Federated Nations Department of Public Health

An author I've been reading, Jeff Somers, who wrote The Electric Church and The Digital Plague, has these Alternate Reality Games or puzzles for each of the books. The first one was already solved by a forum called Unfiction, which is a ARG gaming forum. But the second is still going.

So, I've been trying to figure it out. There are a couple posts on the Unfiction boards and a member says that he emailed someone from the game and they emailed him back. But when I emailed him, a different person emailed me back. But here's the fun part, it was another person, who I took to be a character from the game!

So, the only conclusion is that the person I emailed, has to be the same person as the person on the Unfiction boards. Which means it's a plant, a la Pattern Recognition, a novel by William Gibson to get the game up and rolling. But I believe that I may be one of very few who are actually doing this, based on the small amount of signed up users, and the low post count on the Unification boards.

So I've figured out a couple things. There are number and letter combinations that seem out of place to me. I tried to figure out what they meant, like maybe they were a password and username, or maybe if you replaced the numbers with the corresponding letters from a telephone keypad you would get a meassage, but so far it hasn't worked, or I've chosen the wrong letters, or wrong substitution key for the numbers.

I thought that I was going up the wrong path, but then after I got this email from a character in the game from someone who professed to be a player of the game I examined "her" posts and found a puzzle that confirmed I'm on the right path. It's a first letter puzzle, where the first letter of each sentence, if read down, gives another sentence. Which is a trick Cordwainer Smith used in one of his books to say something about Kennedy.

So, the post I found says this:

Even now, I am afraid to move.
My batteries on this handheld are low
and I have no way of charging them.
Instinct tells me not to trust communications anyway.
Lines are party these days--they're sussing out survivors.
So I have to find other, more obscure ways of communicating.
In fact, a lot of what I say will mean nothing.
Going to die here, I suspect.
Not without a fight, of course.
And why should I survive anyway?
Too many others, dead, half the city or more--maybe everyone.
Unfair, isn't it.
Rightfully, I should have been one of the first to go.
Even now, I am afraid to move.
And if you read down the first letter you get this:


Which is where I've been finding the numbers and codes!

So, I know I'm on the right path, I just have to figure out the solution.

If you want to check it out it's at

If you figure something out let me know!

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