BLIT (which stands for Berryman Logical Image Technique) is a short science-fiction story written by author David Langford. It features a setting where highly dangerous types of images called “basilisks” have been discovered; these images contain patterns within them that exploit flaws in the structure of the human mind to produce a lethal reaction, effectively “crashing” the mind like a poorly-programmed computer.
Langford’s later short story comp.basilisk FAQ, first published in Nature in December 1999, mentions William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984), Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud (1957), J.B. Priestley’s The Shapes of Sleep (1962), and Piers Anthony’s Macroscope (1969) as containing a similar idea. Examples not mentioned include the short story White Cane 7.25 (1985) by Czech writer Ondřej Neff, A. E. van Vogt’s War Against the Rull (1959), and John Barnes’ Kaleidoscope Century (1996).
Authors Ken MacLeod and Greg Egan both acknowledge the idea with a specific reference to Langford—”the Langford hack” in The Cbumini Division (1998) and “the Langford Mind-Erasing Fractal Basilisk” in Permutation City (1994). The Fuller Memorandum (2010) by Charles Stross also refers to a type of magical ward known as the “Langford Death Parrot”.
TRY HARDER Log in to see images!