karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

What I Inflicted On Baycon...

This was a party flyer which I wrote up to justify serving "Morse Code in a Drum" (meatballs and cocktail franks in a sauce) at a room party for Loscon 32. Some were amused, others seemed to find it a bit too dry.

The Code of the Morse Dancers

Lark Kemble, D. Arch., Department of Pre Stardrive History, Univ. of Cantor-Pillar, Trantor, J. Pre Expan. Archaeol. Hist. DMXLI: 11418 – 11420.

Before stardrive freed man to roam the stars, human culture was sharply constrained by the fact of life on a single habitable planet around a single star. This perspective shaped human awareness and culture in ways not easily imagined in an interstellar civilization. Human culture was strongly influenced by the changing of the seasons on their home planet, and many cultural rituals focused on these changes.

One feature, almost completely lost to history, is that of Morse dancing. Every spring, Morse dancers would perform intricate dances to welcome the warm weather and signal the beginning of the planting season. The planting season was extremely important before the development of energy sources capable of propelling a ship from one star to another – only with such abundant energy did it become possible to grow adequate food hydroponically in any conditions and without regard for the external environment.

Very little is known of the actual form Morse dancing took, but it is surmised that it involved the use of specially shaped objects to transmit a message, semaphore style. In order to transmit these messages, a code was developed – the Morse code.

Some have disputed the religious nature of this code, arguing instead that it was intended for the transmission of data. We reject this notion on the grounds that computers were not developed for another century, and only then did binary codes for data transmission come into play. Furthermore, an analysis of binary encodings and the Morse code do not match. Indeed, the Morse code contained features that rendered it unsuitable for 20th century digital transmissions. As further evidence, although the code was apparently intended for ephemeral use, there is one surviving message written in Morse code. Translated into modern vernacular, it reads, "what hath god wrought?" Clearly, this was intended to be part of a religious service, probably part of a message to be broadcast during a Morse dance.

Further research is still required to determine the meaning of the dots and dashes in the code. Were they representations of actual objects? Morse dances were known to incorporate swords. Perhaps they also incorporated shields, represented by dots. The swords would then be represented by dashes. On the other hand, the symbols could have represented a particular position or movement. There are any number of possibilities, and a survey of dances that arose even on a single planet reveals a dizzying array.

The author and her associates are planning extensive trips to Earth to study records of ancient dances. In particular, we will be doing considerable research in places known for their intricate traditional dances, including the island park of Hawaii and a location known as the French Riviera.

The author also wishes to acknowledge the support of the university and of the Society for Historical and Archaeological Research whose grant money paid for this research. She also wishes to thank the firm of Arson, Rape, and Bloody Murder, Inc. for the use of executive housing during research trips to Earth.

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