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SPACE ODDITY: An SF Musical Storytelling Game. Song 2, Clue 4 – Final Clue –

SPACE ODDITY: An SF Musical Storytelling Game. Song 2, Clue 4 – Final Clue

Thursday , 10, March 2016 10 Comments

You can see a complete game of Space Oddity played out in the original post.

The rules are simple:

I’m going to tell you a short genre story that makes sense of the inscrutable lyrics of an otherwise popular song. I’ll do it in very brief parts to keep things interesting. There will be weekly clues.

Your job is to guess the song before the story is done. The first person to correctly guess the proper song receives…High Praise Indeed ™.

No one hit on the right song last week, so refresh your memory on Song 2, Clue #1Song 2, Clue #2 and Song 2, Clue #3 then dive into the fourth and final clue below:


Song 2, Clue 4 – Landfall

The Senior  Conductor – now, rather, the new Engineer – hastily called off the execution. The magnanimity felt unnatural and risky, but he could not mar the day of his coronation with bloodshed. He would be remembered eternally as the merciful forefather.

The whiplash decision in a career built on such choices paid dividends almost immediately. The murmuring crowd had not dispersed from the park when news arrived that the great vessel had achieved orbit around the New World. The Engineer flushed. He would take the helm – and the credit – at history’s peak. His people would set foot on the New World and found the New City, under his natural command.

Pride swelled inside him as he mounted the helm. From his old post, the new senior conductor stood to salute, and the others followed suit. He acknowledged the crew – his crew – and signaled the All’s Well, restraining a smile that would have appeared smug had he not controlled it.

“Sir, do you need to announce the end of your St. Valentine?” Valentine had been the dismissive nickname for Ternie Suffragan because of his so-called “love matches,” and the Engineer hadn’t liked it at the time. He thought the name held as much honor as derision, and he had once feared to make a martyr of him because of it. Now, his instincts had changed with the wind. The living Valentine would be simply a footnote and testament to his own mercy.

“Valentine is alive and well. I have pardoned him in honor of this momentous hour. He will be exiled from us, but I decree this a day of life; let the former Engineer be the only one to share his memorial with our new tomorrow. Prepare my landing vessel.”

The crew gave a hearty, “Hear! Hear!” that cut unexpectedly short at the sound of a short alarm.

The radio man spoke up. “Sir. We are receiving…signal.” Without an order, he flipped his headset transmission to the speakers on the walls.

A man with a distinct accent spoke: “…and as such we welcome you. If you can transmit back on this frequency, please do so, interrupting at any time. Otherwise, do not be alarmed by the attachment of our return rockets to your vessel. I assure you this is not a hostile action. We simply are intimately aware that your ship, the maiden Arisch, had not developed a feasible non-water-based landing system. With our assistance, we will be able to land the entire vessel at a facility in Grand Bolen which is our capital city.”

The Engineer grabbed the transmitter microphone from the radio man.

“How?” was the only word he could sputter.

“Hi! Hello! Is this the Engineer? Welcome to another Earth! The short answer to your question is we simply stood on the shoulders of giants. The original Earth was not destroyed as your founders had believed it would be. The atomic strife they feared came to pass, but it simply didn’t destroy Europe. After your departure in 1938, it wasn’t for another 50 years before we started to build on the technologies that you folks pioneered. Once our forefathers got rolling, though, our ships were faster than the original Arisch. By a lot. So, Engineer Bolen and his crew made it here a century ago, and we’ve been welcoming ships ever since. But boy are we excited about you. You are both the first and the last of the old guard. We have reserved a special place in the national museum for your craft!”

He did not wait to hear the rest. For the first time in his entire career, his special instincts failed him. He fell silent, turned from his post, and sought the confines of his newly won iron bed.


Remember, we are looking at a song in the 1980s. It hit #1 on the Billboard charts, so it isn’t obscure. Scour the other clues for a number of hints: every clue contains at least one direct reference to a symbol in the song’s lyrics.

Enter your guesses in the comments. This is the final clue, so please please tell me now or never!

  • Alex says:

    Man, at this point, I feel like I’m shooting in the dark, even looking at a list of top 80s hits. I know it’s going to blow me away as obvious when I finally hear what it is, but right now Jack & Diane is as good a guess as Walk Like an Egyptian.

  • tweell says:

    St. Elmo’s Fire

    • Daniel says:

      St. Elmo’s Fire is a great guess: a character in desperate, frenetic motion, a hit song. Not right, but I like your thinking.

      In addition to Terni Suffragan being a hint, the thing he looks down at in the last clue on his way to execution is also a hint.

      In fact, the Central Forest is a big hint, alluded to most strongly in Clue 2, I believe.

  • LurkingPuppy says:

    It must be that garbled ‘In the Garden of Eden’ song. ‘Ina Gaddada Vida’?

    • Daniel says:

      1980s. Iron Butterfly was before then. If anyone has noticed any lyrical hints at this point, feel free to list them.

  • Jed says:

    The Reflex by Duran Duran

  • Jed says:

    The second line of the song mentions “valentine”, and the lines “an only child who’s waiting by the park” – the boy who’s parents are married and then killed, “watching over lucky clover” – what he looks down at when being lead to the execution, “treasure in the dark” – a new planet on which to found a new city. It was also the only song by a band in the 1984 #1 charts that was obscure enough (not about love or a girl) to fit the requirements of the game.

    • Daniel says:

      Good! Other hints include the name of the new city, which is a play off of Berlin, but a scramble of LeBon (lead singer), the lonely child waits in the park, the senior conductor dances on the Valentine. Suffragan (Bishop) Terni is literally who St. Valentine was (googling his name puts up St. Valentine in the first 10 hits) and then I included other Duran Duran lyrics in my notes outside of the clue.

      Congratulations, and thanks for playing.

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