A dilemna about prisoners
December 15, 2011 4:48 PM Subscribe
In fiction, an adolescent girl is imprisoned, and can only communicate with a mysterious fellow prisoner she's never met. They can only communicate in code, a plausible code that teaches the girl how to encode information into her world's predominant technology.
posted by Sunburnt to religion & philosophy (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is two books I've read, actually. "Glory Season" by David Brin features a plucky protagonist imprisoned and an unknown prisoner passes her a gameboard that plays Conway's Life, a competitive variant of which happens to be the most popular game on the planet.
In “The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer," Neal Stephenson presents an adolescent girl who studies the primer, which is a kind of computerized interactive book that contains a puzzle she must pass. In it, the girl learns binary code because the communicative prisoner lowers to her cell a long chain in which each link has an on-off switch. After she makes her switch-changes to the links/bits, the chain is hauled back up by an unseen mechanism.
Both books were written, IIRC, in the mid-90s, plausibly at the same time, and while I don't discount that the authors knew each other, nor do I think either stole from the other, and I've always wondered if this scene or these elements came from a common source-- some Socratic speculation or some third book I've never read, some collective unconscious thing I've never noticed. Does this ring a bell?