Q: What is the solution to "Maze" by Christopher Manson?

A: In room 29, a door to room 17 is hidden upside-down to look like a table. Notice that the two leftmost candlesticks are not connected to the stand. In addition, the two candles for those sticks are casting shadows back toward the fool, away from the lit candle on the stand. This is also hinted at in the first room by the two banners on the ground, nearest the entryway. They contain the words "Go" & "17."

Using this door it is clear that there is a 16-step path through the Maze: 1 26 30 42 4 29 17 45 23 8 12 39 4 15 37 20 1.

Several of the rooms have unnumbered exits, but the destinations of these exits can all be deduced. For example, room 36 has four exits, of which only two are numbered (7 and 16). But four rooms (7, 16, 26, and 45) have exits marked 36. Therefore the two unmarked exits in room 36 must lead to rooms 26 and 45. By similar logic, the unmarked exit in room 21 must lead to room 1.

Here is the connectivity matrix (asterisks indicate unnumbered exits)
1. 20 21 26 41 2. 12 22 29 3. 9 18 33* 15* 4. 11 15 16 24 29 43 44 39* 42* 5. 20 22 30 43 6. 40 8* 32* 7. 16 33 36 8. 6 12 29 31 23* 9. 3 18 27* 10. 14 34 41 37* 11. 24 40 4* 19* 32* 39* 12. 2 8 21 39 13. 18 25 27 14. 10 24 43 15. 3 30 37 4* 16. 7 36 4* 32* 17. 6 33 45 29* 18. 3 13 9* 44* 19. 11 31 23* 45* 20. 1 5 27 37* 21. 24 31 44 1* 12* 22. 38 43 2* 5* 42* 23. 8 19 28 45 24. 4* 11* 14* 21* 25. 13 34 35 42* 26. 1 30 36 38 27. 9 13 20* 28. 23 32 43 45 29. 2 8 35 40 4* 17** 30. 5 15 34 42 26* 31. 19 21 44 8* 32. 6 11 16 28 33. 3 7 35 17* 34. 10 25 30* 35. 33 25* 29* 41* 36. 7 16 26* 45* 37. 10 15 20 42 38. 22 40 43 26* 41* 39. 4 11 12 40. 6 11 38 29* 41. 1 10 35 38 42. 4 22 25 30 37 43. 22 38 4* 5* 14* 28* 44. 18 21 4* 31* 45. 17 19 23 28 36

Using this matrix, it is possible to find the shortest distance from

rooms 45 and 1. These are
1. 3 0 2. 4 3 3. 3 4 4. 3 3 5. 3 2 6. 2 4 7. 2 3 8. 2 3 9. 4 3 10. 4 2 11. 2 3 12. 3 2 13. 5 3 14. 3 3 15. 4 3 16. 2 3 17. 1 4 18. 4 3 19. 1 3 20. 4 1 21. 3 1 22. 3 3 23. 1 4 24. 4 2 25. 4 3 26. 2 1 27. 5 2 28. 1 4 29. 2 3 30. 3 2 31. 2 2 32. 2 4 33. 2 3 34. 4 3 35. 3 2 36. 1 2 37. 5 2 38. 3 2 39. 3 3 40. 3 3 41, 4 1 42. 4 3 43. 2 3 44. 3 2 45. 0 3

Starting from room 1, and going to rooms that are closer to room 45,

we find this unique shortest possible path
1 26 36 45
Now, we can simply retrace our steps to find this six step path
1 26 36 45 36 26 1

Or if we prefer never to revisit a room, there is this unique shortest

path
1 26 36 45 19 31 21 1

It is unclear whether the author intended for the unmarked doors to be an alternate solution. Since we have no direct statements from Christopher Manson on the subject, we can only speculate on his intentions based upon indirect evidence. Such speculation is inherently risky.

While Manson went to the trouble of making sure that as many doors leave a room as enter a room, this fact alone is not conclusive. Did Manson intend for the unmarked doors to be one directional? Why state that there is a sixteen step path, and set up door 17 as the only way to achieve this path, if unmarked doors could be used? Did Manson set up the unmarked doors to reward people for questioning the assumption that only marked doors can be used? Such questions cannot be resolved without further information from the author.

The year after the book was initially published, VENTURA ASSOCIATES, INC. a fulfillment house retained by the publisher provided the following additional clues to those who wrote to them requesting a solution.

(quoting)

Each of the additional clues below applies to one word of the riddle

to be found in room #45 of MAZE
1. I'll tip my hat if the two of you can solve this. 2. You can get into these two shoes only if you don't go anywhere. 3. You will find two names on the table, and they go together like doughnut and hole. 4. You must choose between two pictures. 5. There are no two ways you can read this sign. 6. You can see that another two pictures demonstrate their own kind of symmetry.

(end quote)

The various components of room 45, put together properly produce the following question:

"What house will all live in?"

W + hat = What shoe + U (horseshoe shaped) = House Will (common to both names "---- iam shake spear" and "wood row ---- sun") awl = All (versus nun = none) elvi = Live (third reading is "vile") eye + N (sideways Z) = In

On the table, there are a row of up ended logs and a poster with a shaking spear and a ideographic sun. These can be interpreted as "wood row Will's son" or Woodrow Wilson. A quote attributed to President Wilson is: "Without God, the world would be a maze without a clue"

Beginning at the first room of the path, a hint can be phrased:

"Like Atlas, you bear it upon your shoulders."

1: Like is written backwards on the banner hanging near the entryway. 26: salt + A = Atlas 30: From text, "Why 'O' & 'U'?" = You 42: A Bear is the main feature of this room. 4: The holes and pegs are a form of intelligence test, abbr. I.T. alternately, the torches are I's and the gavel is a T 29: up + on = Upon 17: Why + Oh + You + Are = Your skip room 45 23: Taken from the text is the word "shoulder" to which we add the S from room 8. This is not entirely satisfying, because the next rooms do a good job of providing most of the letters, but not in quite the right order. 8: S 12: U D 39: R and on the tire O 4: "ELL" in maze on wall spells L 15: hat, hare, heart, helmet, house, hero all start with H 37: sphere, bottle, vase, cone, dice all end with E (clued in text) 20: S

The acceptable answers were "The World, Earth, or Globe."

Scott Purdy wrote the earlier version of this answer and thanked Andrew C. Plotkin for the information provided by the publisher and Narciso Jaramillo for his assistance in determining the reasons for several statements. Chris Mc Manus proposed the 8 room path through the Maze. John Bailey located the Woodrow Wilson quote.

Web pages at http://home.rochester.rr.com/jbxroads/maze/ contain additional contributions speculating on the identity of the guide or host through the Maze and additional observations as to hints and clues found in the rooms.

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