Cicada: Truth Strange Enough to Inspire Fiction?
In "The internet mystery that has the world baffled" (The Telegraph, November 25, 2013), Chris Bell tells of Cicada, "a mysterious online organisation [that] has been setting the world's finest code-breakers a series of seemingly unsolveable problems" that can nevertheless be solved, using these clues to take elite codebreakers on "a scavenger hunt that has led thousands of competitors across the web, down telephone lines, out to several physical locations around the globe, and into unchartered areas of the 'darknet'. So far, the hunt has required a knowledge of number theory, philosophy and classical music. An interest in both cyberpunk literature and the Victorian occult has also come in handy as has an understanding of Mayan numerology." And everyone is asking, "But to what end?" Here's a possibility:
One long, cautionary diatribe, left anonymously on the website Pastebin, claimed to be from an ex-Cicada member -- a non-English military officer recruited to the organisation "by a superior". Cicada, he said, "was a Left-Hand Path religion disguised as a progressive scientific organisation" -- comprising of "military officers, diplomats, and academics who were dissatisfied with the direction of the world". Their plan, the writer claimed, was to transform humanity into the Nietzschen Übermensch. "This is a dangerous organisation," he concluded, "their ways are nefarious."Is this true? I don't know, but I tend to be skeptical of conspiracy theories. Anyway, I only learned of Cicada yesterday, when I noticed a blog entry on the mystery posted by my friend Malcolm Pollack. I don't have the brains for codebreaking, but the mystery intrigued me by virtue of its plot potential for a mystery novel, so I left a comment at Malcolm's site:
That story would make a good plot for a high-tech novel in which some elite cyber-intellectuals with apocalyptic beliefs lead cyber-sleuths on a chase that itself activates the ticking of a doomsday clock set to strike midnight when the last clue is solved, but each clue has a double meaning, the more hidden one being a revelation of the plot, though that, too, can be only fully understood at midnight of the doomsday -- unless some clever fellow manages to see where the deeper clues are headed, which comes late in the story because the deeper clues are not initially noticed.I wish I were clever enough to write a novel like that . . .