Here are the key things I vaguely remember from 30+ years

  1. There's a secret code in the book based on a simple substitution cipher using a # character - example below.
  2. It was shelved in my Jr. High library next to Dark Wing by West and MacLean
  3. Sci-fi/dystopian - I think. I know when I reread Dark Wing, I was surprised it wasn't in that book.

code key:


Excuse the poor representation of something that is way easier to draw.

For the letter a the glyph ̲| would be used. b is .̲| and c is .̲.̲|. Ergo cat would be .̲.̲| _̲| ‾|

Anyone else remember this story?

  • I believe one of the Bio of a Space Tyrant books by Piers Anthony had this plot element, but if it was shelved in your Jr. High Library at all, much less next to Dark Wing, they probably made a big mistake. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 3:30

2 Answers 2


I have a vague, probably inaccurate recollection of a code like that being used in Alvin's Secret Code, by Clifford B. Hicks. But that story is not sci-fi/dystopian, and I don't know why it would be shelved next to Dark Wing.


That code was used in "The Secret Martians" by Jack Sharkey. It's available for free on the Project Gutenberg website or in the old Ace Double Books D-471. Hope it's the one you're looking for.

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