Challenge 14: What Futility

Here’s Challenge #14 for December 5, 2017.

Perhaps nothing really matters, but don’t give up hope on this cipher. The method was first used by a political group in the late 1800s to organize terrorism against a regime.

Here’s the ciphertext:



  1. No J.
  2. There is a keyword, and there is a key. Both are last names. One is a real person. The other is a fictional character.
  3. How well do you know your classic Russian literature? I’m thinking of a particular book that popularized a term used in the cipher type’s name.

With, I hope to release one cipher, puzzle, or mystery each week. Anyone can attempt to solve. The winner is the first person to send a correct solution and a description of the solve method to Once a correct solution is e-mailed, I will publish a follow-up post, congratulating the winner and revealing the secrets of the code.

You may post questions or theories in the comments, but DO NOT POST SOLUTIONS. E-mail them to

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