Listen With Others

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Listener No 4754, Pax Humana: A Setter’s Blog by Opsimath

Posted by Listen With Others on 2 Apr 2023

I remember little about the construction of this puzzle, and experienced solvers will not be surprised to hear that. I just hope that some newbies may have been encouraged to have a go at this “entry level” type of thing, especially after the nice article in The Times marking the 50th Listener Dinner, just the week before. I feel sure that the Editors chose one of the very easiest puzzles to follow that. In fact, shortly before the planned publication date, I had another email from Kea. I seriously worried this might say they’d changed their minds, and my feeble contribution really was too easy for them to use. Still, I will persist in offering these approachable puzzles until at least one of my perfectly intelligent relatives realises what fun they are. And now I have reason to believe that the editors, or at least their statistician, hope for more submissions that may encourage newcomers.

The idea for “Pax Humana” came to me from an obituary in The Times. Astronaut Mike Collins had died in April 2021, and I was struck by the thought of him once being the “loneliest human” in existence, as he went round the dark side of the moon while his two colleagues walked on its surface. The Times quoted Collins as saying he’d sometimes look up at the moon and say “Shit! I was up there one time!” There seemed to be a gentle modesty in that, which I liked. According to Wikipedia “The Apollo 11 mission emblem was designed by Collins.” and the whole article is well worth a read. One thing I learnt was that Collins was born in Rome, Italy, and died in Naples, Florida.

There’s luck involved in finding a nice bit of symmetry, so I was pleased to see that APOLLO and ELEVEN could form a suitable II when highlighted.

A message to hide in the clues was not difficult to find. Aldrin and Armstrong left on the surface of the moon a plaque with an inscription: “Men from the planet earth…”, which seemed to define what solvers needed to find in the grid, and “We came in peace for all mankind.” provided the title. The letters to be discarded from WREST and HAREM make “WE”, but I can’t remember if that was intended or accidental. As usual, a lot of luck is involved in concocting these puzzles, plus the skill and consideration given by the brilliant Editors, to whom, again, profuse thanks. [But I still prefer my original clue for “Collins”, which was simply: “Thanks for the cocktail!”]


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