Friday, September 17, 2010

Conundrum Computing Contraption

Authors Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer are editing a strange collection: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. (The image on the right is a preliminary cover from the proposal, not the cover of the actual book - due out in 2011.) The book - a sequel, of sorts, to the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases - sounds like it'll be a steampunk-ish collection of stories detailing the curious objects located in the home of the illustrious Thackery T. Lambshead after his death.

A few weeks back, the VanderMeers put out a call for micro-submissions on this collection. Small entries of curiosities to be included in a listing in the back of the book, as a supplement to the complete short stories that will make up the bulk of the book. I submitted an idea, but it wasn't selected.

While disappointed, I figured it would be nice to share the idea (since, at the moment, I have no particular plans to use it in a story myself). You can view the other micro-subs by scrolling down to the comments section on this page.
CONUNDRUM COMPUTING CONTRAPTION - Wooden box with a hinged top, the 3C opens to reveal a mechanical device similar to a massive typewriter, containing 26 keys corresponding to the letters of the alphabet and a toggle with settings “Encrypt” or “Decrypt.” Mathematician Alan Turing built the device, which can create a unique, unbreakable cryptogram and can decode any other system’s encryption algorithm. Turing contacted British intelligence about the 3C in 1954, but due to his “suicide” days later, there was no recorded follow up. The next mention of the 3C was in 1987, when it was confiscated for national security purposes by MI-6 following its implication in the Black Monday stock market collapse. How it came into Dr. Lambshead’s possession is unknown. It is currently being safeguarded by the World Bank, until such time as reliable quantum encryption techniques render it obsolete.