Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 889: Indistinguishable by Hugo

Posted by Dave Hennings on November 28th, 2009

Dave Hennings.

As far as I can see, Hugo is a new setter, so good luck to him with this puzzle. As far as I’m concerned, he’s off to a good start with lots of things to find: a man, two things he described as ‘indistinguishable’, a title, and a revolutionary concept.

The wordplay in clues led to an extra letter, not to be entered, and some of them were quite tricky, probably about medium on the EV difficulty scale.

With most of the clues completed, I had the extra letters in the acrosses reading RENDE.VO.SW..H. It helps having an interest in science fiction, and discounting RENDER something, I saw RENDEZVOUS, which then led to RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA by ARTHUR C CLARKE, a hugely inventive scientific thinker and author. 2001, A Space Odyssey is probably his most famous work; although it was co-written with Stanley Kubrick, it was based on his short story The Sentinel. The extra letters in the downs began .EOST, leading to GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT, a concept he wrote about, although it is unlikely he was the first to come up with the idea. Finally, it needed Google to remind me of his three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The last law gives us the two things which are indistinguishable, and indeed SUFFICIENTLY, ADVANCED, TECHNOLOGY, and MAGIC appear as entries in the grid, so need to be highlighted.

Solving time: about 90 minutes.

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden
X = extra letters in wordplay

1 R HACIENDA landed estate: (IDEA RANCH)*
7 E ARAB horse: AREA (space) + B (black)
10 N AROW in a line: NAR(R)OW (keen, half-hearted, ie only one R)
11 D GONDOLA boat: GLAD (happy) keeping ON DO (the same, ie ditto)
12 E OUTGIVE donate more than: OU (man from Jo’burg) + GET< +IVE (I have, shortly)
14 Z FAILLE silk: FAZE (worry) about ILL (ailing)
15 V SAMEL insufficiently baked: (MARVELS – R [recipe])*
16 O SUFFICIENTLY enough: (SILENTLY [without a word] – L [lecturer]) about U (university) OFFIC(E) (duty, not finished)
19 U SECTOR guarded area: SEC (dry) TOUR (round, n)
21 S LORCAN fierce Irishman (see name meanings in Chambers): RSC (theatre company) in LOAN (advance)
23 W ECHO-SOUNDING analysis in depth (ie the sea): CHOSE* + WOUNDING (as pointed remark could be)
25 I MAGIC exciting: GAM< + ICI (here, in French)
26 T IGOROT Filipino: IGOR (Prince perhaps) + OTT (going too far, ie over the top)
29 H IDIOTIC foolish: I + HID(E)< (most of skin) + OTIC (of the ear)
30 R ENRANGE what rover (ie sailor) would do: (GREEN RAN)*
31 A OMIT fail to perform: O (Oscar) + ADMIT (confess) – D (director)
32 M LEAL faithful: LEMAN (sweetheart, with N replaced by L [first of Lovers])
33 A EYEPIECE what’s vital to scope: EA (each) + YEP (casual agreement) + ICE (formality) holding E (English)
1 G HAFF lagoon: H (henry) + GAFF (fishing equipment, a hook)
2 E ARNAUT Albanian: EARN (make) A (American) UT (do, ie the note)
3 O CONIFER maybe pine: (FOR ICON + E [ultimate in lovE])*
4 S ELUL month: SELL (sell out, as in betray) with U (uniform) inside
5 T DOG BISCUIT type of pet food: DOT (spot) GB (this island) + IS + CUT(E) (astute, not entirely) importing I (single)
6 A ANISEED cordial: DENIES* taken in by AA
7 T ADVANCED well ahead: TAD (a bit) VANED (like fans) booking C (first of Concerts)
8 I ALLEL gene: ALL (completely) transfixed (ie cut through) by LIE (story)
9 O BALLYRAG badger: BRAG (crow) eating ALLOY (mixture)
13 N TECHNOLOGY applied science: Y (unknown) + TENCH (fish) ahead, keeping NO LOG (record)
16 A SHLEMIEL fool: SH (mum) + MEAL* + IE (that is) L (left)
17 R FUCOIDAL like some seaweed: I (one) LAD< (youngster) after FUR (coat) CO (officer)
18 Y FASCINE coastal defence: FINE (excellent) surrounding AS (when) CY (Cyprus)
20 O TRIREME old warship: TOR (rising) IRE (anger) + ME
22 R GNOMIC particular Greek past tense: NG< (no good) + ROMIC (phonetic notation); it took me ages to see gnomic aorist in Chambers just three lines below gnomic (which on its own has nothing to do with tenses); this led me on a googlefest of lots of tenses in different languages … may have to get a book on it all!
24 B CAINE film star: CABIN (simple dwelling) + E (base)
27 I GIMP yarn: G (grand) + IMPI (group of warriors)
28 T TOTE carry: TOTTE(R) (stagger, dropping last)

9 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 889: Indistinguishable by Hugo”

  1. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle too – I found it reasonably easy. I was personally unfamiliar with the theme – when the grid was full I looked at diagonals etc etc to see if I could find something thematic to highlight, but drew a blank. Googled re Rama. Then went to ODQ for the quote which revealed they were clued answers so I was finished.

  2. Dave Hennings says:

    I forgot to mention that it did help me that it was serialised on Radio 4 earlier this year. (Can two episodes constitute a serial?)

  3. Mike Laws says:

    Dave, you didn’t mention that “Rendezvous with Rama” won a Hugo – SF’s equivalent of an Oscar – in 1974.

    I believe that Arthur Charles Clarke (full name – 19, 3 words – to be written below the grid) was first with the concept. He was at least the first in print – see his article “Extra-terrestrial Relays”, Wireless World, October 1945, pp 305-8. A printable pdf version is googlable.

  4. Dave Hennings says:

    Mike, thanks for the info about the Hugo award for Rendezvous with Rama. I didn’t mean to diss Arthur C Clarke, although that is basically what many of the (American) web sites that I scanned seemed to be doing. I think I was being unjustifiably cautious! It was, in any event, a good puzzle from Hugo, although I am now wondering who he may really be!

  5. nmsindy says:

    Yes, definitely a possibility it was a pseudonym just for this puzzle in the light of that interesting info!

  6. Mike Laws says:

    Seems like an appropriate pseudonym to me, in the context of the theme.

  7. Emily Morris says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle and got all the answers right, but didn’t and still don’t understand why OU = a man from Jo’burg. Can someone please explain?

  8. Dave Hennings says:

    Chambers has ou as “(S Afr inf) a man [Afrik]”, in other words what a man might be called in Johannesburg with a ? meaning possibly. Hope that helps.

  9. Emily Morris says:

    Thanks Dave, that does help! My out-of-date Chambers didn’t have it; nor did my Collins, and I coudn’t find it on the internet. I’ll be able to sleep soundly now.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

9 − = five