Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 1022 Protagonist by Salamanca

Posted by twencelas on June 23rd, 2012


A short preamble, straight clues apart from a protagonist to find and several without a definition 3 descriptions of the protagonist and four works by them – Sounds like this might be one for the advanced cryptic beginner.


And so it proved to be – one across yielded the theme straight away as being the Protagonist or as further un-clued entries revealed the popular astronomer/ historian /scientist CARL SAGAN. His 4 un-clued works being:

  • The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence. Ballantine Books, 1978, ISBN 0-345-34629-7, 288 pgs
  • Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science. Ballantine Books, 1979, ISBN 0-345-33689-5, 416 pgs
  • Contact. Simon and Schuster, 1985; Reissued August 1997 by Doubleday Books, ISBN 1-56865-424-3, 352 pgs (Also a Hollywood film)
  • Cosmos. Random House, 1980. Random House New Edition, May 7, 2002, ISBN 0-375-50832-5, 384 pgs (Also a popular TV series)

And that was that thematically. Definitely a high speed solve and one that could serve as an introduction to the advanced cryptic puzzle. There are some tricky clues in there, but enough easier ones to give the necessary guidance for the harder word play. Thanks Salamanca and I hope any who feel like moving to a more difficult puzzle give this one a try.

As to the work of the Telegraph gremlins – two incorrect entry lengths and an anagram, with a superfluous letter, were all I spotted this week.


* Anagram; DD Double definition; Rev. Reversed, Underline = definition in clue


1 He groomed Clara’s nag (9, 2 words)

(clara’s nag)* = CARL SAGAN (The Protagonist of the title)

10 Other ranks take team round school that’s folding (7)

Or (other ranks) ii (representation of 11 for team) around gam (school (of whales)) = ORIGAMI

12 Vehicle carrying House Of Lords’ decorated pieces of furniture (5)

Bus (vehicle) around HL (House of Lords) = BUHLS

13 Bring back barrel for fruit (3)

Rev(tun (barrel)) = NUT

14 One is beginning to enjoy dill, perhaps (5)

An (one) + is  + e (beginning to enjoy) = ANISE

16 Letters from heartless goddess (4)

Ceres (Goddess) – r (heart) = CEES

17 Article — it needs space (4)

It + em (space) = ITEM

18 River delta? (3)


19 No more star wandering (9)

Should be (10) – (no more star)* = ASTRONOMER (Unclued description 1)

22 Such a one is foolish old dupe (6)

(such a i)* = CHIAUS

24 Old picture of the northern drinker (6)

T (the northern) + alkie (drinker as in alcoholic abbreviation) = TALKIE

25 Very hard stone base of rock, next to hearth (6)

K (base as in end of rock) + ingle (hearth) = KINGLE

26 Beckett character, male single (6)

M (male) + alone (single) = MALONE (Malone Dies is a novel by Samuel Beckett)

29 In a faint condition as now giddy after eating nothing (6)

(as now)* around o = ASWOON

32, 42 A carbon rib’s cracked (11, 2 words)

(a carbon ribs)* = BROCA’S BRAIN (Unclued Work 1)

35 Dependable animals are more awful round ravine on edge of Sahara (10)

Worse (more awful) around khor (ravine) + s (edge of sahara) = WORKHORSES

36 Lout’s head shaved (3)

Loaf (head) – l (head) = OAF

38 Stupid race for a piece of ground (4)

(race)* = ACRE

41 Old inscription on tusk in Perth (4)

O (old) + gam (tusk – scottish) = OGAM

42 See 32A

43 The French finish for missile shelter (3)

Le (the french) + e (finish for missile) = LEE

44 Companies take a bedtime drink (5)

Co + Co (companies) around a = COCOA

45 Ship carrying cultivated new parts of flower (6)

Should be (7) SS (ship) + tame (cultivated) + n (new) = STAMENS

46 Having knowledge about it’s odd (9)

Scient (having knowledge) + (its)* = SCIENTIST (Unclued description 2)


1 Before play continued (7)

Cont (continued) + act (play) = CONTACT (Unclued Work 2)

2 Ceremonial is appropriate in speech (4)

Homonym of Right = RITE

3 Liana’s not damaged fragrant plant (9)

(lianasnot)* = SANTOLINA

4 Female friend — more spirited in the middle (4)

Gamier (more spirited) – g- r = AMIE

5 Lincoln died thus? (4)

Abe (As in Abraham Lincoln) + d (died) = ABED

6 Old nut kernels, uncle processed on island (6)

(uncel)* + i = NUCLEI

7, 30 No need for the Degas to be restored (16, 4 words)

17 letter anagram for a 16 letter answer? (no need for the degas)* = THE DRAGONS OF EDEN (Unclued Work 3)

8 Merry, full with e.g. ecstasy tripping (7)

(eg + full)* around e = GLEEFUL

9 Letter by fool’s fine (6)

Ess (letter) after ass (fool) = ASSESS

11 Old European state with no soft leather (6)

Prussia (old european state) – p (soft) = RUSSIA

15 Old chemise is false (5)

S (is) + mock (false) = SMOCK

17 Don’t start to inflame anger (3)

Fire (inflame) – f = IRE

20 Ella — fat cow — ugly person with a pasty look (10, 2 words)

(ella fat cow)* = TALLOW FACE

21 It was once near river without a hint of life (3)

Nile (river) – l (hint of life) = NIE

23 His ration’s changed (9)

(his ration)* = HISTORIAN (Unclued description 3)

27 Herb trimmed where Portia’s suitor came from (7)

Tarragon (herb) – t (trimmed) = ARRAGON (Merchant of Venice reference to the Prince of Arragon)

28 Rogue rakes gravel ridge (5)

(rakes)* = ESKAR

29 Part of seashore remains (3)

Hidden seASHore = ASH

30 See 7D

31 Most inquisitive son ties knots (7)

(sonties)* = NOSIEST

32 In discussion start to speak about ornamental clasp (6)

Homonym of Broach (start to speak) = BROOCH

33 Moments after function (6)

Mos (moments) after Cos (cosine function) = COSMOS (Unclued Work 4)

34 Report of gold coin (3)

Homonym of Or (God) = ORE

37 The basics involve a diagram (4)

Abc (basics) around a = ABAC

39 Pet’s starting to eat old delicacy (4)

Cat + e (start to eat) = CATE

40 Live uncomfortably in African swamp (4)

(live)* = VLEI


2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 1022 Protagonist by Salamanca”

  1. Pegasus says:

    Thanks for the blog Twencelas, I started attempting the VE’s about March this year and up to now I’ve completed three, this being one of them.I realise to experienced solvers that this was probably on the easier side,but for me it was an ideal confidence builder, Thanks again.

  2. twencelas says:

    Pegasus – I’m glad to hear your comments. They can be quite daunting puzzles but bring great satisfaction, and a good chuckle or two when you get them complete. Much more so than the standard cryptic crossword in my opinion.

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