I’m writing this post for those that have read The Ghosts of Heaven and have wondered about the page of numbers at the close of the book. I’m getting emails asking me to explain it, so it seemed a good idea to write this post so that I have somewhere I can direct people to. If you haven’t read the book, I wouldn’t bother reading on.
This is the page in question:
Most of the people writing to me by email have guessed that it is a code of some sort. To be precise, (and I use all my words very precisely), in cryptographic terms it’s not a code, it’s a cipher. I have been asked to explain what it means, but I don’t want to do that for a number of reasons, the most important of which is, as Stanley Kubrick said, ‘You tell people what things mean, they don’t mean anything anymore.’
I am interested to find out if anyone can solve it, and how long it takes for that to happen if so, without any help from me. This blog post will be the only thing I have to say on the matter. I am the only person who knows what it means and how to decipher it – not even my editor or closest family know, so the answer will go with me to my grave. If this is irritating, I’m very sorry. One or two people have been rather rude and angry seeming in their emails to me, which I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about. Someone asked me what right I had to put something in a book they couldn’t understand. Hmm. There’s a worrying thought for you.
Anyway, I will say here what I have said to anyone who has written to me so far.
1 – Yes, it is a cipher.
2 – And yes, it can be deciphered: everything needed to do so is contained in the book.
3 – As I said above, I use my words precisely.
If you don’t understand it, or if you can’t be bothered to try to work out what it means (and let’s be honest, why should you be?) then that’s fine. Not everything in life can be, or has to be, understood. Perhaps that’s one of the things I was trying to suggest with the book.
To quote the poem by James Sarafian that I used a part of in The Ghosts of Heaven, and which appears in full in Killing the Dead:
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I wish I had more clues on how to solve this. If I felt like it would be worth it to figure it out I would. Unfortunately, it is most likely a waste of my time because I won’t figure it out. 😦
The cipher was solved, amazingly enough, some time ago: https://marcussedgwick.me/2016/05/26/the-ghosts-of-heaven-cipher-solved/
Don’t read this though unless you want to keep figuring it out for yourself.
The link he left here takes us to the site for his WBD title, “Killing the Dead” which is a reference to “The easiest room in hell”. This book is set in 1963, and the first numbers in the cipher are 1963!
I have worked out:
It is in rijndael-256 (Mode CBC),
It possibly has a key of 1618033988749894
I think I'm close, give me some more time…
I say this only because I hope it's not true but by saying the words contained in the book please oh Lord tell me it's written in the text and I don't have to rip apart the book to find a message on the spine or something like that!!!
Is it the book cipher?
Hexadecimal used to encode page numbers and word numbers (maybe letter numbers if it's that specific but judging from the length it would probably stop at words).
I'll have to check this out…
Is there any forum/reddit page dedicated to solving this? I have ideas/thoughts
This is going to bug me until I figure it out