Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Looking Glass Club

[EDIT - I now realise the start of this post is a bit of a rant, if you want to read about The Looking Glass Club then scroll down past it!]
I have returned, fresh faced from the land of Londonium. I have not returned empty handed, though, oh no. I come bearing gifts of a new found distaste for the "scene". I know, I know, I once was one of the kids who hung around the park - baggy trousered and bedecked in black. I was cool and I despised the establishment, yeah those adults! They never listen to us! Fight the powa'! But since then, I've... well, I've got some freaking perspective!
Travelling on the tubes the past couple of days I have begun to despise the posers in square glasses without lenses, who grow moustaches - not because they are superawesome and make you look like a manly man, but because it is ironic to do so. Those parodied on Family Guy and other comedies as going to coffee shops to type on their laptops, because whats the point in writing if noone sees you doing it? With trousers with rolled up legs showing their ankles, they slope around with an air of aloof mysticism carrying battered books or notepads. I am at once in awe and at odds with them - bedecked in battered trainers and a jumper as I am.
[EDIT -Rant over!]

Phew, well now, lets get to business shall we? A couple of days ago a new thread popped up on uF (here it is, in fact) concerning a book just released by a British writer named Gruff Davies. Now, apart from having the manliest name ever created Gruff has provided an interesting challenge for us ARGers and puzzle-lovers. If we can solve the puzzle of his book, we could win up to £1million.
Before I set out for the land of the drainpipe trousers, I ordered myself a copy - hoping it would arrive before I had to leave for the trainstation, it didn't and instead the journey down was occupied by my second read-through of Eldest (of the Inheritance Cycle) in preparation for the next, and final, installment which will be out later this year, with any luck.
However, as I pushed open the door to my flat early yesterday evening a package from Mr Davies was waiting for me. Inside the cover was a business card advertising the competition tied to the book: 

Are you smart enough to win up to £1 million?

Read the novel
Solve its secrets

Available now from major online stores: Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Find out more, visit:

The copy is signed by the author and whilst it isn't all that thick in itself - the typeface is much smaller than I anticipated so the book is a much more daunting task than I first thought.

Having said that, I delved into the first chapter later that night and I believe I was gripped. It took me a page or so to get a handle on Gruff's style of writing, accustomed as I was to the simpler style of the Eragon books (I really have been powering through them), but once I had my teeth stuck in I really was just dragged along by the story. So far I have gleaned that the story concerns the main character Zeke (or "Steel") who is tasked with protecting Skyler; a pregnant twenty something with amnesia. The start of the book is frantic and confusing, not in a bad way, but in a way which I believe is perfectly constructed to mirror the tension of the chase into which we are thrown.

Now, to the meat of the post - the competition. Along with the book itself are a series of challenges set to the reader, to be solved by the end of this month (so you best get ordering if you want in). Full details can be found on the LGC website, but as a short summary: solve the first puzzle to be put into a draw for a Kindle, solve the first four puzzles to be put into a draw for an iPad, solve the entire book first (that is, before anyone else) and win up to £1million. The puzzles come in the form of an except from "Tony's Diary" and seem to come at the end of each chapter. The book begins with what appears to be a yes/no morse or binary code, since then I've conquered the first chapter and reached the second puzzle, a fiendish word square which, at first glance might be dismissed as a simple substitution or rotation cipher, but when you look closer there are far too many triple letters for it to be so bland. The puzzle is accompanied by the line "an amphibious mammal swims in this sea".

So, fancy a challenge? I'll certainly be aiming to finish the book by the end of the month - if not solve it, if only to pay off my student loans! Head to the website to order a signed copy, you can also download the entire book - FOR FREE in pdf form (although, you won't get all the puzzles). Also follow Gruff Davies on twitter @gruffdavies. Right, best be off, these iPads won't win themselves you know...

[EDIT2] Try not to do as I did and transcribe by hand half a page of no nos and yes yes's before realising you can copy/paste from the pdf. It really does damage your calm...

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