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Volume 0867
A Barsoomian Crossword
Fredrik Ekman
A few years ago, a sensational discovery was made. A small bundle of old documents was found in a warehouse full of junk, documents that are thought to have belonged to the former Secretary of Commerce, hunter, ranch-owner and sometimes writer Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Among the documents was a single sheet from an old issue of The Helium Times, doubtlessly given to Mr. Burroughs by his uncle Captain John Carter, the so-called Warlord of Mars. On one page were unfortunately only comics for children of little value, but on the flip side was the huge Sunday crossword, which is apparently a regular feature of that publication. Now, after years of transliteration and interpretation by some of the most learned linguists on earth, ERBzin-e is proud to present to you this crossword, with clues in English and lightly edited.

The translation and transliteration process was, of course, not without problems. The first obstacle was the Martian writing, which is entirely unlike anything on earth. Thus, it would have been difficult and useless to reproduce the crossword without at least some editing. In the process of converting from one writing system to the other some words had to be taken out altogether, simply because the correct words could not be written in English letters. Even so, what remains provides a fantastic insight into Martian life.

There were parts of the crossword that even the most brilliant of our scholars could not solve. Thus, they too had to be left out. It was also decided that many words had to be deleted because the cultural connotations and fine shadings of the originals would have been lost in a direct transliteration. Yet the result is a marvellous scientific achievement.

With the abovementioned deleted words, plus again the fact that the Martians have no alphabet such as ours, it was unavoidable that what remained had to go through some more deletes and changes in order to fit together as a complete crossword. You will, however, find the translation quite as challenging as did the Heliumite readers the original.

Unfortunately, when all was completed, it was decided that most remaining words, many of which were names of obscure celebrities or faraway geographical locations, would be impossible to solve for a reader with little knowledge of Mars beyond what has been described by Mr. Burroughs in his books about the planet. For that reason, all those words were either deleted or replaced with such as would be recognizable from the books.

So, again, ERBzin-e proudly presents the complete and lightly edited transliteration of the Barsoomian Crossword. If you find it difficult to solve, it is recommended that you "cheat" by using some good reference source, such as Tangor's A Barsoomian Glossary, Huck's Barsoom Glossary or J. F. Roy's A Guide to Barsoom. Just for sports, however, you should try to solve it on your own first.

With all the money spent on translation, we could not afford any cash prizes. But the first person to submit a complete solution in some appropriate format (scanned, typed-in, whatever) to ERBzin-e wins a similar crossword (not to be published anywhere else) and will also have his or her name forever inscribed on a solution page. If no-one has stepped forth as a winner before June 30th, 2003, the chance to immortal fame and glory will be lost and a solution will be published anyway.

Puzzle Contest Winner, Answers, Comments and Sources
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ERBzine 0868

Volume 0867

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