Seven Mazes

Voice Card  -  Volume 28  -  John Card Number 5  -  Sat, May 29, 1993 4:21 PM

Holly recently asked me about maze books. There are, of course, a buzzing swarm of maze books for the crayon crowd which invite their readers to (and here I am indebted to Holly for her merciless example) "help Ronald McDonald find his way to the Big Mac." But where, Holly inquired, could the intelligent reader turn for maze lore and for truly interesting mazes?

I find seven books on my shelf:

Mazes And Labyrinths: A Book of Puzzles by Walter Shepherd, Dover Publications 1961. This dignified collection by a one-time lecturer at Working Man's College, London includes an informative preface and fifty very different intellectual amusements, "all of which embody in one way or another the principle of the maze."

Mazes & Labyrinths: Their History & Development by W. H. Matthews, Dover Publications 1970 (a reprint of the 1922 edition). This scholarly tome may be a bit too dusty for all but the most intent of mazeologists, but it is a solid and authoritative source of information about the history of mazes. It comes with 151 Illistrations, frequent bursts of poetry, and a sizable bibliography.

Labyrinths: Ancient Myths & Modern Uses by Sig Lonegren, Gothic Image Publications 1991. This "extremely practical workbook" is just plain wacky. Mr. Lonegrin, who is heavily into dowsing and "working with sacred space," shows us how to build our own labyrinthes and use them as tools for personal growth. I can't summon much respect for Mr. Lonegran's reasoning abilities, but I recognize a fellow ponarvian when I see one.

And now some actual maze books:

Dazzling Mazes by Ulrich Koch, Dover Publications 1985 is a book of cleverly-drawn black & white mazes, many of which are three dimensional. Some of these mazes will dazzle you and others will just make you dizzy.

The Ultimate Maze Book by David Anson Russo, Simon & Schuster 1991. This spectacular book of color mazes was a gift from a fellow Archipelagoan. Each maze combines New Age mysticism with a distinctive use of color; each one is beautiful to look at, some are more mandalas than mazes.

Mad Mazes: Intriguing Mind Twisters for Puzzle Buffs, Game Nuts and Other Smart People by Robert Abbott, Bob Adams, Inc. 1990. This book, despite its hideous breakfast-cereal-box illustrations, is a major find. The tipoff is a forward by none other than Martin Gardner. The 20 puzzles in this book achieve true mazeness, going far beyond the task of drawing a line from start to finish. In fact the final maze requires not a path but an algorithm which a Theseus can follow to defeat a pre-programmed robotic Minotaur. The solutions to these puzzles are described but cannot actually be drawn!

Maze: Solve the World's Most Challenging Puzzle by Christopher Manson, Henry Holt and Company 1985. This is my favorite maze book. It consists not of squiggly lines but of eerie, Gorey-like illustrations of rooms with numbered exits. I reviewed this book in volume 23.