I was happy to back this new Kickstarter campaign by PZLR reader Jason Murphy:
Do you like knots, dilemmas, secrets, lock-and-keys, mazes, brainteasers, anomalies, queries, intricacy, perplexity, or riddles?
What about knowingness, obscurity, why, inscrutabilities, enigmata, puzzles, double meaning bewilderments, mysteries, representationalisms, runes, or conundrum?
If so, you will like this book. It is what I call a mega-puzzle. A mega-puzzle uses a large variety of ciphers, codes, and clues in various puzzles to total up to one single answer.
He’s looking for a meager $1,000, and it only takes a $13 pledge to get a copy of the book. Let’s make this happen.
This Bright River and me
Tomorrow is the release date for This Bright River, the new novel by Chicago author Patrick Somerville. It is a ceaselessly engaging book, often brutally so. It wears its Midwestern roots and themes proudly, taking place mostly in rural Wisconsin and featuring characters returning home to understand their own lives and the lives of their family. I’ve read it, and I loved it. And I’m not just saying that because I helped write it.
Well, I wrote one page of it.
Puzzles play a big part in the book and in the life of the protagonist Ben. He used to make them, and during the book he spends much of his time unravelling a real-life one. I worked with Patrick to compose an original puzzle that appears halfway through the book. It’s a good one. And because Patrick is a bastard, he gives no answer, leaving it up to you to solve it. So far, he tells me, no one has come close.
Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some really smart critics have to say:
“A remarkable achievement…[This Bright River] is a stellar, bruising book about how place forms character and our capacity to transform ourselves.”
- Chicago Tribune
Part love story, part murder mystery, part mediation on violence, part exploration of what home can and should mean, this novel roams wide and far, in terms of its story and even its geography.
- O Magazine
Somerville has a gift for spurring dialogue, and the meandering narrative tributaries he explores stoke our curiosity and build suspense
Somerville is after something grand here, using nonlinear storytelling and shifting points of view to investigate elusive truths and to explore the nature of both delusion and evil.
- Time Out New York
There’s a release party for This Bright River tomorrow at the Book Cellar in Chicago. I won’t be there, but some of my puzzles will be — Patrick will be using them to give away a few free copies of the book. Stop by, meet the author, solve a puzzle, and win a book.
This is NOBOX, which won the 2011 Puzzle Design Competition. “Lock the box, and then unlock it. The starting/unlocked state is with the boxes separate and no loose internal parts. The goal/locked state is with the small box inside the larger box (enclosing the internal space) and again with no loose internal parts.”
Here’s a full list of entrants.
Esquire has released an iPad app the publication is calling “the hardest puzzle ever.” It is certainly very difficult. The game combines Rubik’s Cube-style puzzles with riddles — including those with and without Google-able answers — of scaling difficulty. After successfully completing each level, users can opt to print out and assemble 3D trophies, a clever addition.
Hints for puzzles #63 and #64
The last two puzzles have been doozies. No one has gotten either so far. I knew they’d be tough, but I not so tough they weren’t fun. In the interest of remedying that, here is a hint for each of them:
Puzzle #63: What Comes Next
Hint: There are six items in the series, and I’m asking for the seventh. The key to the puzzle is understanding the connection between each picture and its number position in the series.
Puzzle #64: A Taxing Cipher
Hint: For one, it has nothing to do with taxes. I just said that because it was Tax Day. The key here is noting that the letters in the puzzle are halfway arbitrary. Just not totally arbitrary. Those letters are key to solving the puzzle, but a direct translation of letters into something else isn’t the way to go. It’s actually much simpler.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments to each puzzle and I’ll answer them as I see fit.