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An interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker, with enchanting illustrations by Pete Venters.
An interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker, with enchanting illustrations by Pete Venters.
An interactive puzzle novel written by Mike Selinker, with enchanting illustrations by Pete Venters.
2,630 backers pledged $171,146 to help bring this project to life.

A Conundrucopia of riches, and some realizations


The Conundrucopia is a 40-page book that, on its own, could probably win a bunch of puzzle book awards. It is insanely good. Every one of those world-class puzzlers I imprisoned in my cage has turned out a world-class puzzle. It looks awesome. Here's Elisa's cover.

There are probably one or two of you who just had a serious flashback. The rest of you don't quite know what that cover's based on. I'll make it a challenge, then. First person to post the origin of that cover's concept gets a tip of the hat from me. (Those who are in the book already know, so not you guys.)

Anyway, I mentioned the book was phenomenal, and I'm going to post the table of contents so you understand what I'm getting at. Here it is, in an unfinalized order:

  • “An Instance of Quizzism,” by Ken Jennings
  • “Professor Babbage’s Other Engine,” by Scott Weiss
  • “Dr. Flattbottom’s Conundrum,” by Jeff Martin
  • “Pop Quiz,” by Patrick Blindauer
  • “A Japanese Battle,” by Matt Jones
  • “Edison’s Cylinder,” by Eric Berlin
  • “As Heard Thro’ a Fogg,” by Greg Pliska and John Chaneski
  • “The Case of the Missing Social Calendar,” by Deb Amlen
  • “The Deck of Destiny,” by Cliff Johnson
  • “Free the Moon Zeppelin!” by David Ellis Dickerson
  • “Helter-Skelter, Skimble-Skamble, All Around the Park,” by Brendan Emmett Quigley
  • “A Most Exhausting Day,” by Eric Harshbarger
  • “For Science!” by Francis Heaney
  • “Geoffrey P. Tynesdale, Consulting Metagrobologist, in The Case of the Emperor’s Son,” by Peter Curtis
  • “Train Station ANTics,” by Richard Garfield
  • “Initial Impressions,” by Will Shortz
  • “Horseplay,” by Gabrielle Weidling
  • “Flatland Eyewitness Reports,” by Scott Kim
  • “The World’s First Roles-Performing Game,” by James Wallis
  • “A Bit of Disorganization,” by Jeff Chen
  • “Prestidigitis,” by Peter Gordon
  • “A Piece off the Action,” by Jeffrey Harris
  • “Harry’s Chessmen Boggler,” by Wei-Hua Huang
  • “Cutting Boards,” by Thomas Snyder
  • “Puzzles from the Eastern Enigma,” by Trip Payne
  • “Bold Predictions—of the Future!” by Wil Zambole
  • “The Magic Circle of Mr. Houdini,” by Roy Leban
  • “alfie at the zoo,” by Mike Selinker
  • “Two by Two by Clue,” by Tyler Hinman
  • “Bikeworks,” by Mark Gottlieb
  • “English Roses,” by Liz Berry
  • “The Mysterious Canals of Mars,” by Sean Trowbridge
  • “A Desperate Call for the Preservation of Books in Our Declining Society,” by Dan Katz

That is about the best table of contents I could imagine. I asked folks to imagine what puzzle they would submit to an 1897 puzzle magazine, and -- look, Dave Dickerson wrote a puzzle called "Free the Moon Zeppelin!" So much good stuff here. I'm looking forward to showing it off to you.

But I can't just yet

I'm not going to sugar-coat this -- well, I just did, by showing off the awesomeness that is the Conundrucopia. But the calendar has turned on December, and with that has come the awareness that we're not going to make Christmas. We're quite close to finishing, with only the covers and a few bits and bobs to design, and a whole lot of proofing to implement. But we're looking at somewhere in the first quarter of 2014 now. I'll get to what that means in a second, but first, some explanations.

I'm not the kind of person who thinks you, the backer, should be subjected to some tale of woe about how we just didn't know what we were getting into when we started this project. We had a pretty good idea what we were doing, because I put together the best team possible to make this particular project. Pete is brilliant, Gaby is brilliant, Elisa is brilliant, Tanis is brilliant, our business team of Liz and Marie and Evon is brilliant, everyone who contributed to the Conundrucopia is brilliant, and I'm not too shabby either. I can't imagine a better team to run this marathon with.

But when we hit the heights of fundraising and enthusiasm that we did, something overtook us. We went from thinking we needed to make a very good puzzle book to thinking we had to try to make the greatest puzzle book we could imagine. And that meant everybody redoubled their efforts, putting in tons of overtime to make the best puzzles, the best words, the best art, the best design.

And all that overtime adds up. It's an assembly line process; Tanis can't edit what hasn't been designed, and Elisa can't lay out what hasn't been drawn or edited. By the time Elisa got the edited files, we were already past the date she was supposed to finish them. We figured we could make up time. We couldn't. We kept improving it and improving it, and now it's even better than we thought it could be. We've invested as much time on this book as on any other project we've ever worked on, and it will show. Just not yet.

What we can do in the meantime

We know a bunch of you ordered this book for holiday presents. Obviously, the book isn't getting to your friends and family by Hanukkah or Christmas. But if you want to give it as a gift, we want you to follow through on that the best you can. So we've made a little winter holiday card from the Gatekeeper. Here's the front of the card, with a fine bone-chilling piece of art from Pete.

There's going to be a holiday-themed puzzle on it too. I don't want to spoil that, but I promise you it will be fun and festive.

We're going to distribute the card by private Kickstarter update. You can print it out and solve the puzzle. But if you intended to give The Maze of Games as a gift to someone else, then we'll go a step further: We'll mail you a printed copy, and you can give it to them. It will have our holiday apologies that their present didn't arrive on time, and let them know they can look forward to the gift from you in the near future.

Again, this is intended for those giving the book to others. If you bought a copy for yourself, you can get the full experience just from printing the card or solving it online. But if you want a keepsake for that special someone, we're here for you.

Let us know what you think

We're trying to do right by you guys. We're pretty sure that you'll like what we come up with when we've finished making it as good as it can be. But we want to hear your feedback. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and we'll aim to help you with anything we can.

And now, back to proofreading. There's a moon zeppelin to free.

Mike and the Sharks

Elisa Teague, Kri Grenier, and 19 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Christoph on December 8, 2013

      As said before - an earlier warning would have been nice -this is now a real hassle for me finding something else for someone who "doesnt need anything" for Christmas but is always unhappy, if he doesnt get anything (and has birthday in January). Still, the card (whether hardcopy or softcopy will help a bit.).

    2. Summer Storm on December 7, 2013

      I think this is awesome. From what I've seen so far, I know the finished product will be amazing. You guys rock! It's a nice gesture for the people that won't get the book for the holidays, but I think we all believe it will be worth it. Thank you for being honest and keeping us informed.

    3. Missing avatar

      Tiffany Couser on December 7, 2013

      I would much rather wait for the even more awesome version than have y'all rush out a slightly less awesome one. Keep up the good work!

    4. Lone Shark Games 5-time creator
      on December 6, 2013

      Just to be clear, every backer will get access to the PDF of the Christmas card sometime next week. We will mail hard copies to those who need them for gifts.

    5. Gene Shin on December 6, 2013

      Thanks for the update, it's greatly appreciated.

      My intent when I backed this project was as an xmas gift for my son, so the stand in card is a great idea! I fully understand the vagaries of schedules and tasks taking longer than planned.

      You guys are awesome!

    6. Missing avatar

      Kathleen Linscott on December 6, 2013

      I was looking forward to giving this as a gift, too, so a card would be helpful. And thanks for letting us know the status of the project. I was wondering why I hadn't heard anything! It's a disappointment, but not the end of the world. Good luck with the finishing work!

    7. schala on December 6, 2013

      I too am one of those who hoped to give this as a Christmas gift, but I'd love to have a card mailed to me. The extra time just might build anticipation for my intended recipient. :)

    8. Charles Murray
      on December 6, 2013

      Rather than mailing me a copy, email me a pdf and I can print it off for my intended recipient. Less cost and hassle for you.

    9. cynthia clark on December 6, 2013

      well I was wondering what happened to my reward! Card please so the person I intended this to be given to at Christmas knows he will get something, thank you

    10. Missing avatar

      Aaron Curtis on December 6, 2013

      I appreciate your making this the best it can be, even at the cost of time. This is good for me, but I'm not constrained by the calendar like others may be. My 2012 gift for my brother was Ogre.

    11. Marcie DeFelice on December 6, 2013

      I would love to have the card to give as a stand in and I cannot wait to see the book when its ready. Thanks.

    12. Lailah Robertson on December 5, 2013

      I am seriously bummed. I bought this as a gift for someone who is incredibly hard to find gifts for, so it's not just a question of going out and getting something else and giving this for a later occasion. I know Kickstarter projects often have delays; the thing that irks me about this particular one is that it sounds like it's working on the stretch goal rewards that is holding things up. I would have rather had the book for Christmas as promised with no extras, or with the extras coming later, after the original project was completed and sent out. (I'm probably alone in that opinion, however!) The card is a nice idea, though; thanks for not just ignoring us and telling us to suck it up and deal.

    13. Missing avatar

      Jane Truskey on December 5, 2013

      I'm not happy happy with the delay; but I'm looking forward to it when it comes out.
      I do need a card for the one I intended to give it as a gift.
      Thanks a lot for keeping us up to date.

    14. Lone Shark Games 5-time creator
      on December 5, 2013

      Well, we sure consider it a delay. We had some people on our Christmas list as well. But we very much appreciate the kind words from folks, and we'll work hard to make that faith worth it.

    15. Missing avatar

      Richard Bauer on December 5, 2013

      No problem at all...I don't even consider it a delay...and definitely appreciate your team wanting to make the best product possible!

    16. MistWing SilverTail on December 5, 2013

      Hi there. Just wanted to let you know, I understand completely about unintended delay and have no complaints about it. I used to be a computer programmer and such delays were a frequent event. I want to thank you for keeping us informed. I really appreciate that.


    17. Missing avatar

      glyph on December 5, 2013

      Joining in the mix here....Yes this was to be a gift-luckily my family is easygoing-They'll get it when they get it-the card would be great-the sooner the better, though since it has to be mailed.
      Thank you.

    18. Missing avatar

      Liz Stanwyck on December 5, 2013

      Thanks for making this book so incredible and taking the time to do it right - I am extremely excited about the finished product, and I don't mind waiting a little while longer so that I can be the greatest! Thanks.

    19. Lone Shark Games 5-time creator
      on December 5, 2013

      It'll be sent in a private message soon.

    20. Missing avatar

      Ronald Harris on December 5, 2013

      Like others, this was intended as a holiday gift. So what do we have to do to get the card substitute? Is it going to everyone, or is there some click link that I missed?

    21. Lone Shark Games 5-time creator
      on December 5, 2013

      Ariana: I do not anticipate any problems with the soundtrack shipping with the book.

    22. John L. and Marybess D. Goeppinger on December 5, 2013

      I would like a card sent to put in a stocking, along with some coal.

    23. Missing avatar

      Ariana Antonio on December 5, 2013

      I understand the delay. You haven't said anything about the soundtrack in the updates. Is that going to be ready to ship with the book?

    24. Jascha Lease on December 5, 2013

      This was also going to be the centerpiece of a gift for my I can do now is a folded piece of paper, but if that is all I can do I guess it'll have to do.

      The issue isn't really that it will be late, its that your update so late in the season.

    25. Missing avatar

      Clinton Balmain on December 5, 2013

      The book looks awesome, I look forward to seeing it, and am glad you're taking your time to get it right!

    26. James Cowling on December 5, 2013

      The more people involved in a project, the longer the timelines have to be. I knew full well when backing this project that it was going to be late, and that Spring 2014 was more likely. I am very critical of very late projects with small or singular project teams -- this is not one of those projects.

      Keep at it until you're satisfied. Don't rush. This is the project of a lifetime for puzzlers. We will probably never see its like again.

    27. Gary Levin on December 5, 2013

      You waited /how many years/ until you could produce this book? I am happy to wait for you and your team to complete your dream, plus all the other wonderful stuff you have added to the original offering. And this was just for me, so I will print a copy of the card when it comes out.
      Thanks for keeping us up-to-date.

    28. Joshua Ellis on December 5, 2013

      Echoing what Rex, Ryan, Kathy, Wilhelm et al said. . . sad the finished book won't be there under the tree, but the card is a great idea. Had the same thing happen with a Kickstarter-purchased Christmas gift last year, and they didn't ship until June. So if you hit Q1, then I'm doing better than last year!

    29. A Terrible Idea on December 5, 2013

      I'd also wanted to give this as The Best Christmas Gift Ever. I'm bummed, and scrambling, but I totally understand. I'd love to have a card to send.

    30. Daniel Rinehart on December 5, 2013

      No worries about not making the original deadline. You've consistently done the most important thing which is keep us abreast of the situation. Every project has risks and you've been clear about obstacles you've encountered alone the way that have delayed the project. This little bonus teaser is a great idea for those that were hoping to gift the book. Every update gets me more excited to see the finished project. Happy Holidays!

    31. Shari Bromley on December 5, 2013

      The book looks to be fantastic and well worth the wait. I appreciate you keeping us in the loop with the update, no problems here.

    32. Rex Miller on December 5, 2013

      The book and other items look great! Waiting for something this good is understandable. I am planning on giving as a gift - so if I can get the card to deliver while we wait, that would be fantastic! Thanks for all the hard work on this.

    33. Missing avatar

      Kevin West on December 5, 2013

      I knew it was wrong, but it reminded me of:

      Thanks for this spectacular update! You should miss deadlines more often, if these be the spoils.
      Looking forward to 41 pages of blank stares and penny drops.
      Oh. And the book.

    34. Missing avatar

      Sally on December 5, 2013

      I agree with Ryan - I have yet to back a Kickstarter project that met it's deadline. I thought I left enough leeway and had faith in you guys to make it.

      I do appreciate the extra touch of the card, but I am still pretty disappointed.

    35. Lone Shark Games 5-time creator
      on December 5, 2013

      Steven is correct! That's my favorite puzzle book, and I hope this one fits nicely on the shelf next to it.

    36. Missing avatar

      Ryan on December 5, 2013

      I don't think I've ever backed a Kickstarter project that has met its deadline. But I have definately never seen one go so far above and beyond to make up for it. I'm just happy knowing how great the book will be. The Christmas card/puzzle is lagniappe. Bravo!

    37. Missing avatar

      Kathy Ferguson on December 5, 2013

      Thank you. I had planned to give this as a Christmas gift so getting a gift card instead is a perfect solution. Thanks.

    38. Missing avatar

      Cepheidy on December 5, 2013

      Of course Mr. Marsh is first. :) If I have to wait because you want to make an awesome book even "awesomer," so be it! The table of contents alone is making me drool.

    39. Wilhelm Fitzpatrick
      on December 5, 2013

      I did hope to give my copy as a Christmas present, and as the time ticked down I was pretty sure you weren't going to make it. I do think the card is a classy way of handling it, and I would love to get one to stand in for the eventual gift.

    40. Steven Marsh on December 5, 2013

      Sam Loyd's Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles tricks and Conundrums with Answers: