a.k.a. Ridiculous Contest #1
SIX WINNERS will receive
a signed copy of The Night of the Swarm, personalized with a handwritten story footnote of your very own at the end of the text.
(click the image for the full-sized puzzle. Clues below)
The U.S. debut of The Night of the Swarm (Feb 5th) is almost here.
Given that this fourth & final book was delayed roughly as many times as Leonard Nimoy donned pointy ears between 1965 and 2012, this feels like a day worth celebrating. And how better than with a contest and book giveaway?
I’ve tried to make this crossword something really unique. So along with the familiar sort of trivia questions, I’ve added three clues in the form of unpublished extracts from the novels (two that were cut during the editing stage, and one that I wrote just for the crossword). The trick with each of them is to fill in the blank with the appropriate name.
The other clues could be characters, places, concepts, proverbs, insults...anything at all that appears in books I – III. There are no Book IV spoilers in this puzzle.
The Prize: the first six players to solve the puzzle will win a signed copy of the Del Rey edition of The Night of the Swarm with a personal, story-related message from me at the end of the book. This message will be in no one else’s possession except my own. You can share it or keep it private, as you like. I reserve only the right to use these notes eventually myself in future Alifros-related work.
How to play: just save the image above, and scroll down for the clues. When you've solved the puzzle, send an image of the completed whole to firstname.lastname@example.org. The image can be a snapshot of a printout, a doctored version of the original image, or a marked-up pdf--just please make sure your answers are legible.
Along with the completed puzzle, I ask that you include this text: "I solved at least 15 of the 20 questions myself, without help from anyone." Fair enough?
Who can play: this contest is open to readers worldwide, but due to high mailing costs I can only ship books to addresses in the U.S. or Canada (if you live elsewhere & have a friend here who can receive the books for you, go for it).
•• I think we can all agree that this puzzle HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HAVING FUN. It is, rather, a coldly logical stratagem designed to TRIPLE MY SALES. And more evidence of the self-promotion skills that make my editors weep into their morning coffee (some people line up interviews with Wired, give readings at the KGB Bar, throw back highballs in Tokyo with Joss Whedon & Haruki Murakami. Redick makes crosswords). ••
And now, the clues:
1. The courage to see.
3. He would have married Ensyl.
5. He will translate poetry, one day.
6. Suthinia’s little glass vials of __________.
7. The admiral in his labyrinth talks to these.
8. Unsuccessful suitor to the (eventual) Treaty Bride.
9. A certain bartender is famous for this, and his neutrality.
10. Mzithrini guild of spies.
12. She’s really part of the ship.
13. An Arquali war. Also, Hercól's harmless knife.
14. He's unlucky in love, but good at killing rats. Two words.
15. “Nobody drowns with _______.”
16. An unpublished excerpt from Book II. Supply the missing name:
One of the younger goats had a limp. Nothing crippling, the wound half-closed already, but it slowed the animal, so that yard by yard she fell behind the herd. She was as frightened as the rest, and also somewhat shorter, so that when the high grass closed around her she was lost. Rising on her hind legs was too painful, and the Father’s roaring drowned out her bleats. She panicked. She flailed through grass and brambles and sudden sand: these were dunes, that smell was the sea! She bolted in the opposite direction, sand in her wound now, the shrine still close, and she skidded over a sunlit hill and down its darkened face, and two hideous hands shot out and pinned her to the earth.
The man who held her was lying back in the grass. He was old and ugly. All about his face and neck were scratches, as if he had recently tangled with a wildcat. Other scars, long healed, were the work of swords, flails, throwing knives, human teeth. Even his eyes, pitted with old motes and blood-sores, spoke of battle. He pulled the kid hard against his flank and stroked her ears.
“There now, pretty thing. You’ve no need to fear me. I’d make a coat of your skin for my lady, true: but there’s no time for such fancies. Never is. Off you go.”
He watched her bound away. Then he rose and descended to the stream. The mud reeked of fish offal and crabs. The reeds stood powdered in salt.
Two meanders, and the stream found the sea. It was a favorite launch-point for the fisherfolk, who were even now shoving their humble boats into the waves. Most lived in the city, but there was also a row of tumbledown huts beside the streambed, their windows mostly broken, their roofs patched with planks and other flotsam tossed up by the storms. The scarred man aimed for the last of these huts. Fishermen nodded curtly and turned away. No one said a word.
He climbed the sunbleached steps, gave a precisely timed knock. The door was opened by a boy of about eighteen, pale, with thin eyebrows that met at a point like a checkmark between his eyes. He held a book, with one finger closed in it to mark his page.
“Master Ott,” he said.
“Master ________,” said the other. “Get away from the door.”
The boy stepped back with a slight, ironic bow. Ott stepped in and kicked the door shut with his heel.
“We pay that fishwife to answer the door. Your face is known in the city. Do you fancy being questioned by the king’s guard about your business here? Do you think they’ll believe your studies brought you?”
“I stand corrected, sir.”
“There, the Sizzy’s finished his howling. Even now the Templar monks will be escorting Thasha Isiq to her dressing rooms. Fly, fly to the city. Stop at the archives only long enough to change. And wash your face. No, damn you, douse your whole head. Your hair is unacceptably oily.”
“I am a scholar, Master Ott. Not a dandy of the court.”
Ott looked at him sharply. “Your tone never fails to amuse me, lad.”
The boy gave him a smile; it was not returned. “You know of the caves west of here?” asked Ott.
“Naturally I do. The extensive Simja sea-caves, visible only in the clearest water, at the lowest tide. I’ve explored them rather thoroughly; my elder cousin discovered a new entrance in the year—
“Fail me and you’ll be exploring them in chains this time tomorrow.”
17. Unpublished excerpt from Book III. This occurs on the Northern Sandwall after the encounter with the sea serpent, as Thasha and others try to sleep around a campire. Supply the missing name.
Sleep in the heart of catastrophe, with unfamiliar companions, between fire and cold: it is a wonder that it still comes at need. But it does. Exhaustion decrees, the body follows. And how mysteriously sleep and waking commingle, how many bubbles of consciousness are stirred into the vat of slumber, how wet with dream the waking air above the vat. Thasha went many places while her body slept. In one motile sphere she saw Hercól and Pazel rise and slip away; she wondered what sort of care they were taking of her, whether they were discussing life or the gentlest, most merciful form of death. In another moment she fell beneath the sand into the burrows of the crabs, the packed sand where their eggs lay in clutches, the sand smoothed by the trowels of their bodies--and then her foot twitched and ______ shuddered with shame and terror at his attraction to her. An animal, an animal! Was it his fault that she looked exactly like one, harraba, she was one, her body was an animal’s body, a tol-chenni’s. But also a woman’s. He felt plunged into nightmare. He had never touched one of his own kind, there were no girls his age in his village, he’d been sent here before he could summon the nerve to kiss Adeleinka, his father caned him if he soiled his sheets. But this human girl wasn’t a tol-chenni, she was that mythic beast, a human, and in the dream he was showing her the inside of a house, teaching her to sit in a chair, hold a fork, hold a cup to her lips, and when those lips were wet and smiling her eyes blazed with that terrifying proof of intelligence and he was a monster, a monster, he wanted something only a monster could want.
2. Never-before-published dialog. Supply the missing name:
“We are speaking of ten minutes’ work, _____. Scale the wall. Kill the governess. Make sure you don’t wake the children, or spill her blood. We both know that you could manage that much in your sleep.”
“I fear, Master, that I will never sleep again.”
“Rubbish, you’ll sleep better than ever. Now pay attention. There’s a laundry chute. The old woman’s body should fit inside it, and if not you’ll slide her under the bed. Or toss her atop the canopy, or hang her by her nightdress from a hook in the closet and jam the door.”
“To buy me time to escape? But I won’t need it, master. Why not let her lie where she falls?”
“Do it! See how I trust you—I let you risk your own neck. You’re right, forget the governess. Kill the boys in their beds. Only do not mar their features—that’s essential, not a scratch to either royal face. Carry them to the window and drop them into the moat. The other lads will take it from there.”
4. Felthrup considers these a miracle.
6. “Acceptance is agony, ________________.”
7. An ixchel’s disciple.
11. Everyone eats it; no one knows what it is.
13. A name Uskins would like forgotten.