Well-Sorted Version, an alphabetical Bible


I have a copy of the alphabetical Ulysses mentioned. Picked it up in a London bookshop a few years ago. I think there was only 1000 made.

aaaa a aaabbbddd eefh - ii iikllllnnn nnooooor rr ttt uuvwWyy.

I imagine they’ll order a copy for the Jorge Luis Borges Memorial Library of Babel.

These examples made it possible for a librarian of genius to discover the fundamental law of the Library. This thinker observed that all the books, no matter how diverse they might be, are made up of the same elements: the space, the period, the comma, the twenty-two letters of the alphabet. He also alleged a fact which travelers have confirmed: In the vast Library there are no two identical books. From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite): Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.

I’ll bet it makes more sense now.


Kind of like how Slash’s fingering exercise was seized upon by Axl Rose and became Sweet Child of Mine, a programmer’s exercise became an artisanally bound stack of pages. Wait, that second thing is superficially identical to the original, yet pointless.

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This should be the “tier 2” of disemvowling. Because you can kind of still make out what the poster was trying to say after a standard disemvowling. Maybe call it “Alphaflogged” :smiley:


There is so much truth and wisdom in The Holy Bible that even in this form it will still inform and inspire the truly faithful.



I feel like for the sake of completeness, the cover title should read “AAA AAAA AAAAA”

Hmmm, and then, just as someone created a re-emvowelling tool, someone will have to create a de-alphaflogged tool.

Sounds like a worthy end-of-year project for a CS class…

I’m pretty sure this kind of book reordering was a punishment envisaged in Iain M Bank’s Player of Games:

His most famous exploit had been the sacking of the Urutypaig Library. Traff had been in command of a small ground force in a war against a humanoid species; the war in space had been fought to a temporary stalemate, but through a combination of great military talent and a little luck Traff found himself in a position to threaten the species capital city from the ground. The enemy had sued for peace, making it a condition of the treaty that their great library, famous throughout the civilised species of the Lesser Cloud, be left untouched. Traff knew that if he refused this condition the fight would go on, so he gave his word that not a letter, not a pixel, on the ancient microfiles would be destroyed, and they would be left in situ.

Traff had orders from his star marshal that the library had to be destroyed. Nicosar himself had commanded this as one of his first edicts after coming to power; subject races had to understand that once they displeased the Emperor, nothing could prevent their punishment. While nobody in the Empire cared in the least about one of its loyal soldiers breaking an agreement with some bunch of aliens, Traff knew that giving your word was a sacred thing; nobody would ever trust him again if he went back on it.

Traff already knew what he was going to do. He solved the problem by shuffling the library, sorting every word in it into alphabetical order and every pixel of every illustration into order of colour, shade and intensity. The original microfiles were wiped and re-recorded with volumes upon volumes of the’s, it’s, and and’s; the illustrations were fields of pure colour.

There were riots, of course, but Traff was in control by then, and as he explained to the incensed and - as it turned out, literally - suicidal guardians of the library, and to the Empire’s Supreme Court, he had kept his word about not actually destroying or taking as booty a single word, image or file.

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Oh, the horror!

Hi, creator here. Thanks, Cory, for linking to my book. I’ve been a BoingBoing reader for ages (and a fan of your novels), so I’m sitting here with the biggest grin.

A small correction: I’m not offering any for sale. After the site was up a few months enough people asked that I thought it worthwhile to put up a form and track interest. Whether there will be future printings and what format they’ll be depends entirely on how many people fill in the form.

I considered it, but I decided the book’s title wasn’t part of its contents and alphabetized the two separately. Conveniently, it acts as a clue when I hand a copy of the book to someone without explanation; solving the anagram is easy enough that many people realize what the book is that way.

Relatedly, I had a similar pondering about the book/chapter headings but decided they weren’t metadata, so they’re alphabetized.

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“Oh my god, Brian, there’s a message in my Alpha-Bits!”

I did my own version of the Alphabetized Bible in 2001. It’s interesting to see how this idea has stayed in the zeitgeist. Mine was organized by verse, so “In the Beginning” happens kind of in the middle.



Brilliant! This has been driving me crazy all day!!

This reminds me of the alphabetic version of the novelization of Starship Titanic:


As I recall, there was also an associated contest to reproduce the original work in order.

Thanks! I’ve amended the text. Put me down for a limited hardcover when/if, too!