Well, I can hope… But I have at least put up a new puzzle for the first time in weeks. It was published in 2011, but I have a feeling it is much older, and was only unearthed a short while before publication. In particular, the cryptic definition for the answer that requires two separate entries feels like something I dreamt up when quite young.
It has been a hectic few weekends as the New Zealand winter has continued to pretend it is just a slightly more emphatic spring. We have daffodils flowering a month ahead of schedule, a tree full of lemons, and the first signs of plum blossom. We keep waiting for a severe frost to kill it all off.
Last weekend was the big science fiction and fantasy convention held ‘virtually’ in Wellington. Even people not fans of SFF might have noticed that something of a stir was created by a certain fantasy author of substance, enough to make it into the more mainstream corners of the media. Marjorie helped supervise some of the Zoom meetings (there was quite a lot of Zoom-ing) and we caught a major documentary of Ursula K LeGuin which I wholeheartedly recommend. I ended up with a pile of nominees to read (let alone a renewed intent to read the Earthsea cycle) which I am still working through. There were one or two I rapidly discarded, but, dammit, most of them are worth sticking with. I was pleased that our choice for the Hugo won (A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine – very much in the spirit of Iain M Banks, but without his occasional overwriting; the promised sequel cannot come soon enough). The Young Adult winner is also proving very entertaining: Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer – itself an expansion of a Hugo-winning short story (and with a promised sequel); note that the Amazon blurb has a minor plot spoiler.
I keep a record of my puzzles, of course, and type up paper copies. In doing so, I occasionally come across coincidences. A while ago I had two puzzles in different newspapers on consecutive days. That (happily) occurs often enough, and is not the coincidence. But these two also contained the same word. And that word had the same clue. Now I try not to repeat myself, but some ideas are quite attractive and come back to mind too readily. Three thousand plus puzzles later it might be quite hard to recall every clue I have ever written. However, these two puzzles appearing together did give me pause, so I checked their completion dates (oh, yes, I keep a record of my puzzles).
They were six months apart, so I think I am free of any taint of deliberately reusing a clue. Even so, solvers knowing my pseudonyms might have wondered.
As it happens I have two puzzles appearing on the same day next week: Friday 14 August sees my usual Independent puzzle joined by a puzzle in the Church Times. Earlier in the week (Monday 10th) there’s a Times cryptic as well. And if I can get back to my fortnightly timetable that’ll be it – there’s an Enigmatic Variations puzzle on the horizon, as well as a debut in another series, but more on those next time.