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Listener 4117.5: Headache by Zaphod, a Setter’s Blog

Posted by Listen With Others on 14 January 2011

The end was obviously where I started.

After studying the number 4117.5 for only a couple of milliseconds, I found the following coincidence almost overwhelming:

4117.5 = (3*3*3*5*61)/2
42 = (3+3+3+5+6+1)/2

How cool is that?

The answer having thus been reduced to 42, the question could be anything; this greatly simplified the crossword for the setter at the expense of the solve, which I deemed a tad on the easy side for the average solver. Time for a few red herrings.

Fish*, of course, led to dolphins. It has always surprised me that Serbia – a land-locked country – has so many words for dolphin (well OK, not all of them mean dolphin exactly, but one needs to see the interconnectedness of everything; I maintain that the spacecraft from planet Jxyck in Haah Minor are dolphin-shaped, and that 3,000 years ago one did land in what is now Serbia, and that the locals did have a word that equates to bogyman in Standard Galactic – so the clue is perfectly fair. And while we’re on the subject, if I can be bothered to download a Babel fish just to play mind games with the natives, then so can you; it costs less than TEA, and you don’t have any problems with obscure dialects, or poets for that matter.)

The diagonals were a whim. With a half-finished grid I realised they might be made to read something. A few rewrites later (which fortuitously led to the introduction of some pictorial highlighting) I had two messages that I thought pretty neat. The real instructions were, however, to be found by playfair-encoding the aforesaid cute animal representations. Given that all you Earth lifeforms share the same DNA, I thought the keyword almost too obvious.

Successful solvers should now have origami instructions to assemble a fully operational intergalactic spaceship which, if correctly put together, should read along the underside “SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH”. That’s a hint – geddit?

Well, I was going to leave it there, but the editors were of the opinion that a further hint was necessary. Accordingly, if the solver makes all the left, right, up, down, backward, forward and diagonal folds into the 4th dimension and back out again IN ALL NINE SHIP SECTIONS, the resulting 4D Sudoku problem, once solved, reads (using a simple substitution cipher): GO STRAIGHT TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. FIND BAR CALLED MILLIWAYS AND ORDER A ROUND. DON’T FORGET TOWEL.

Because of this, all entries received by post will be marked incorrect (sorry, George – you almost got there). Other entries will be inspected at the aforementioned one-off Listener Dinner venue.

*FISH: From the solver’s point of view, a much overworked theme – from the setter’s, however, a potential goldmine. They haven’t even found all the fish in the sea, let alone named them. So, just qualify as a marine biologist, fund an exploration, find a new species, name it Gargle Blaster, and wow! – you have a really accessible crossword. Apparently, though, there’s no pleasing everybody.



3 Responses to “Listener 4117.5: Headache by Zaphod, a Setter’s Blog”

  1. Zaphod2 said

    Shouldn’t that be 42 = (3+3+3+5+6+1)*2, or am I missing something? (like a sense of humour or a second brain)


  2. 42 = (3+3+3+5+6+1) times 2 ??? Which dimension do you live in??

  3. Zaphod1 said

    I thought it was the 4th, but after that last PGGB on Friday night I’m in two minds about it.


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