Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Alternate Chapter 10 Received at Osfour's Cage!!!

Just when we thought things couldn't get more exciting in the world of S. , we at Osfour's Cage have received an email from an anonymous source with the following pages attached. The file was password protected and after cracking it open we got this:

This email was received on Sunday, April 6th at 16:15 GMT. This brings the total of alternate Chapter 10 versions to 4!

Version 273 - The first one. It appeared on Jen Heyward's Tumblr

Version 289 - This was posted simultaneously on Twitter by @SisterTsion and @CFish6 on April 7th, 2014

Version 290 - This was posted simultaneously on Twitter by @SFiles22 and a French Blog on April 8th 2014

Version 291 - Received by Osfour's Cage

Here is the text contained in the above pages:

"Czech/English Translations for EPH-9993 (00291)

          not befall him. He lands roughly. When he tries to pull himself up to standing he is unable to do so. There is a pain, a powerful pounding pain in his leg.
          Here is where Time collects, collides, all at once. A drop of wetness falls on his head. He rubs the spot and finds a dark streak across his palm. S. rolls himself onto his back and looks up at the ceiling only to see himself looking down.
          It is strange, S. thinks, to see himself as he truly is from an objective point of view. Physically he is old. Too old to be running around in the dark, and too old to live a full life with Sola.
          Mentally he is scattered. He grabs for many threads that pass lightly over his hands. He feels only the smallest sensation from each before they are out of reach.
          A thread passes through his fingers. Corbeau. S. remembers Corbeau. Mostly he remembers how it felt to walk with her clutching at his hand. She had taught him what belonging together looked like, what it felt like. He remembers holding her tightly in his arms.
          Another thread. Stenfalk. A man who followed his passions despite his age, despite his sickness. He remembered how he and Corbeau looked standing as leaders on the dais in the city of B__. He remembered how everyone had looked up to them for guidance.
          S. is in a cave. A dark cave, and he realizes that he is pointing a gun at two figures that stand silhouetted by moonlight. The figures embrace each other tightly as S. steps toward them. It isn't until he is a few steps away that he recognizes them both. Stenfalk and Corbeau stand together.
          Corbeau turns away from S. and hides her face in Stenfalk's shoulder. S., unable to stop himself, points the gun at her and fires several shots. They hit her in the back and she slips from Stenfalk's grasp as she falls over the edge.
          He approaches Stenfalk. The man knew exactly who he was, something that S. couldn't seem to find. S. places his hand on Stenfalk and gently pushes him over the edge.
          Why? They trusted him. They saw his value when no one else did. He had killed them.
          Another thread. Sola. There's always the question of Sola. What was she to him? Which of the threads, which of the choices, actually take him to her? Every thread he touches seems to be entwined with her in one way or another. How could he make any choice if he did not know all of the implications?
          Again, the threads appear in front of him. Instinctively, just like so many times before, he reaches for Vévoda's thread.
          It takes great effort to stop himself.
          And his greatest revelation is personal: he doesn't care about Vévoda anymore. As long as the man lives, others will resist what he brings to the world. When Vévoda dies, someone else will take his place. When S. dies, someone else will take his place. Another S. Another story.
          He does not have to chase the same thread. He grabs for Sola's thread. It tries to wriggle free, like a worm from a bird, and S. holds on with both hands. He knows that if he lost it now he would never find it again.
          Sola is with him. She helps as S. struggles to ease himself up against a wall. Pain shoots through his leg as he does so and he barely manages to stifle a scream.
          “I thought you were dead,” Sola says. Her voice is shaky.
          “I was,” he replied.
          Sola helps him from the ground and she pulls him close as he wraps his arm around her. “Vévoda is leaving.”
          “Unless you know how to get back,” S. says,” we should follow them.”
          “I think we'll find our way,” Sola says.

          Where will their steps lead?  (continue original translation)"

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Chapter 10 Alternative Endings Part II

We now have, even more, multiple confirmed versions of Chapter 10 of Ship of Theseus:

Version 273 - The first one. It appeared on Jen Heyward's Tumblr

Version 289 - This was posted simultaneously on Twitter by @SisterTsion and @CFish6 on April 7th, 2014

Version 290 - This was posted simultaneously on Twitter by @SFiles22 and a French Blog on April 8th 2014

It is worth noting that our friend Mystimus noticed that both versions 289 and 290 were posted at 19:00 GMT.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Chapter 10 Alternative Endings!

We now have multiple confirmed versions of Chapter 10 of Ship of Theseus:

Version 273 - The first one. It appeared on Jen Heyward's Tumblr.

Version 289 - This was posted simultaneously on Twitter by @SisterTsion and @CFish6.

Myiarchus Crinitus

Birds too are of tongues and races
Each wanders not across empty spaces
While over earth and sea without a tether
they soar highest when they flock together

Saturday, 29 March 2014


While reading Chapter 6, we come across the name Khatef-Zelh. It's the name of the girl S. has a dialogue with while inside the store house of El-H----. Being a native Arabic speaker, I found the name odd and incomprehensible. Arabic names usually have a meaning and a format. This is a compound name made up of two words: Khatef and Zelh.

Let's start with Khatef  - خاطف. It's easy enough. It can be used as an adjective meaning "fleeting" or "momentary". It can also be used as a noun that means "kidnapper", "snatcher" or "pirate".

Zelh, on the other hand, had me stumped. I thought about it over and over again and couldn't find a suitable transliteration that would work....until now.

The problem is that we have Arabic words being written with Latin letters. There are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet and 26 in the English alphabet. There is a lot of overlap but there are some letters that are unique to each language.

To transliterate Z you would have to consider many possible matches AND pronunciations. The Arabic letters that "could" be a match are as follows:

 This letter is a direct match and is pronounced like Z is in English

However, there are two other letters that, while not pronounced like Z is in formal Arabic, are pronounced like it in colloquial Arabic. Fun, I know.

This letter is formally pronounced like "th" is in the English word "The", but like Z colloquially.
 This letter is similar to the previous one but has a bigger, thicker, sound. 

Check this site for audio pronunciations of both if you're curious.All of the above are consonants by the way.

So, if we use  instead of  to start the second word we get : ظله which translate to "his shadow". Combining the two words we get  خاطف ظله or "snatcher of his own shadow".

Khatef-Zelh is one of the Arabic names for the Pied Kingfisher!

It is called Khatef-Zelh sometimes because of how it swoops down to the water to snare fish in its long beak, as though it were trying to snatch its own shadow.

One of the unique things about this bird is that it lays its eggs when winter is turning to spring (Feb - Apr) and the seas are calm. This led the ancient Greeks to develop a myth about this bird. Per Wikipedia:

"Modern taxonomy also refers to the winds and sea in naming kingfishers after a classical Greek myth. The first pair of the mythical-bird Halcyon (kingfishers) were created from a marriage of Alcyone and Ceyx. As gods they lived the sacrilege of referring to themselves as Zeus and Hera. They died for this, but the other gods, in an act of compassion, made them into birds and thus restored them to their original seaside habitat. In addition special "Halcyon days" were granted. These are the seven days either side of the winter solstice when storms shall never again occur for them. The Halcyon birds' "days" were for caring for the winter-hatched clutch (or brood), but the phrase "Halcyon days" also refers specifically to an idyllic time in the past, or in general to a peaceful time.
Various kinds of kingfishers and human cultural artifacts are named after the couple, in reference to this metamorphosis myth:

The Arabs, probably inspired by the Greeks, also saw this bird as a good omen and made the association with calm waters. The Arabic / Muslim version of the Kingfisher story appears in some detail in a work by  Zakariya Al-Qazwini, a famous Muslim physician, astronomer, geographer and , yes, science fiction writer. His epic work, "Marvels of Creatures and the Strange Things Existing" (عجائب المخلوقات وغرائب الموجودات)is a famous and beautifully illustrated work of Islamic Cosmography with quite a bit about birds both fictional and real. Here are some illustrations:


»: «في هذا البحر طائر يقال له فنون (تصحيف قيون) وهو مكرم لأبويه وذلك أن هذا الطائر إذا كبر وعجز عن القيام بأمر نفسه اجتمع فرخان من فراخه يحملانه على ظهرهما إلى مكان ويبنيان له عشاً وطيئاً ويتعهدانه بالماء والعلف. ذكروا أن الله تعالى أكرم هذا الطائر بأن سخر له البحر فإنه إذا باض سكن البحر أربع عشرة ليلة حتى تخرج فراخه في هذه المدة اليسيرة والبحريون يتبركون به فإذا كان أول سكون البحر علموا أن هذا الطائر قد باض

"In this sea there is a bird called cyon (as in Halcyon) who is dear to his parents. This bird, when he grows old and feeble, unable to be himself, two of his chicks carry him on their backs to a place where they will build him a sound nest and provide him with water and sustenance. It is said the Allah himself honored this bird by commanding the seas to be calm for 14 nights after it lays its eggs until they hatch and the chicks come out. Sailors find this bird a good omen and say to themselves when seas calm: The Cyon has laid its eggs."

Doing a quick web search reveals the regions where this bird can be found:

We now have another major clue that I will incorporate into the coming post on where S. is in Chapter 6.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Osfour's City - Part II

Click here to read the first part of my analysis of the clues regarding Osfour's city. Although at this point we could start guessing where S. has landed, I will continue parsing through the hints of Chapter 6 and summarize them in the end, hopefully, with a conclusion.

On page 229, we read the following:

"They leave the last of the date palms behind and tromp through a field of knee-high grass growing in sandy soil."

Date palms are native to many parts of the Arab world, including Libya.

Next there is an interesting passage with a specific clue (also identified by Eric in grey):

"Ahead is an entrance to the city: crumbling stone walls that centuries ago must have framed a gateway. Now though, anyone may pass."

The specification of crumbling stone walls that must have framed a gateway a few hundred years ago narrows down our search quite a bit.

The next hint is:

"Here and there, smoke rises, carrying the smell of roasted lamb and cumin."

Roasted lamb with cumin is a popular dish in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. It's Arabic name is Mechoui. Indeed, Jen asks Eric in the margins of page 230 if he's "been to the Moroccan restaurant out on 324?"

Page 232 describes a "night suq" or souk as it's commonly spelled. A souk is a traditional Arab street market and is present in most Arab cities.

One of the items for sale is the "oud" which is a pear shaped string musical instrument common in the Middle East and North Africa.

On page 233, there is an interesting clue:

"He watches a sale conclude: a short, pink, and shaved-bald man in western dress and eyeglasses hands money to the book vendor, hands him paper bills printed with purple and blue. (S. hopes to recognize the currency, but he doesn't.)

So the currency we're looking for would have a purple and blue bill(s). I have some candidates but will save them till I write the conclusion which would integrate all the clues we unearth.

On page 236 it appears that Osfour and S. pass next to a stall that is selling children:

"He blows into it, producing a single tone like a feline yowl, then diving between notes, never lingering on them, a wailing melody both mournful and sinister that has S.'s skin crawling even before he hears one of the baskets rustle, sees it shake ever so slightly though no one is touching it, and hears---could it be?---a childlike whimper coming from within. And is that the lid of the basket, starting to rise---?"

North Africa had been a very active region within the global slave trade. Many major slave trade routes crisscrossed the area. All of the major cities of North Africa housed dedicated slave markets.

The roasted nuts sold on a street cart on page 237 are a popular street food in North Africa.

Page 237 gives us the scene of S. hearing an aeroplane for the first time and mortars start bombarding the city. Eric's notes in the margin as interesting:

"Yrs. have passed since Ch. 4-5"

"Ref. to German invasion of North Africa?"

To be continued....

Saturday, 15 March 2014


This is a short post about the peculiarity of using the very specific term "escudo" in Chapter 6 of SOT. On page 205, S. is wondering about all the suffering he had witnessed in B___ :

"And what purpose did all that suffering serve? What was it all for?

Nothing he decides. Not yet. None of that sacrifice will be worth a single escudo unless S. can tell the world about what Vevoda has done and what he is capable of doing."

Escudo, as per Wikipedia, is:

"The escudo is a unit of currency. Historically it was used in SpainPortugal, and in their colonies in South America, Asia, and Africa.[1] It is still used in Cape Verde to this day. Escudo is Portuguese and Spanish for "shield"."

The fact that S. uses escudo in his thoughts would indicate that:

1- S. is from any of the regions where the escudo was in circulation and the currency is embedded into his memory. Here is a full list as per Wikipedia:



2- One of the two cities S. had been to up to that point in the story, "A city where river meets sea" and "B____" used that currency and that's where S. picked it up.