Listen With Others

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Listener No 4693, Location, Location, Location: A Setter’s Blog by Agricola

Posted by Listen With Others on 31 Jan 2022

The original inspiration for this puzzle was my re-reading of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, with its gothic personifications of different London Underground stations, including my favourites, the Seven Sisters. Gaiman has been promising a Neverwhere sequel featuring the sisters for the last five years, and I had hopes of writing a puzzle to coincide with its publication. Unfortunately, the novel has still not appeared, and anyway, I realised that combining features of the plot with all of the other components I planned for the puzzle would be far too ambitious.

It also turned out to be too ambitious to include the names of the six sisters in the grid without jumbling, if I also wanted to include the synonyms for the other two stations and the Victoria Line. For me (and perhaps for solvers), the jumbling is the least satisfactory part of the puzzle, and I did spend a lot of time trying to make the names fit, but I don’t think it’s possible without a jumbo-sized grid.

Other than this, my main challenge was deciding what thematic material to leave out, because the Pleiades have fascinated so many different people around the world. In many cultures, the star group is associated with female characters, and there is easily enough material for a puzzle just about Matariki and her daughters (Aotearoa), the Napaljarri Sisters (Australia), the Krittika (India), or the Volosozhary (Ukraine).

One day, perhaps, I will write my own sequel.

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