Raymond Smullyan is famed to be a philosopher, logician, mathematician, musician, magician, humorist, writer, and maker of marvelous puzzles, and all these aspects and interests come forth in various chapters of the book, which follows on in his unique tradition of parodying great works of popular fiction. As the author says, “This book, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, is truly for readers of all ages. By this I do not mean that all of it is for every age, but for every age, some of it is for that age.”
Some of his famous works include The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes: Fifty Tantalizing Problems of Chess Detection, where the indefatigable duo of Holmes and Watson is enlisted to solve strange conundrums and The Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights where Scheherazade is called upon to give the puzzles some good twists. The real beauty of the book is how similar the characters feel to the originals, not only in talk and behavior, but also in the word plays and their convoluted logic and paradoxes.
The puzzles do increase in difficulty as the book goes along, but the sheer delight at the inventiveness and playfulness of the author keeps us going with breaks only to think or to laugh. So even as the Duchess prompts Alice with “As to confusing puzzles, these are nothing compared to some I could tell you if I chose!”, we are far from Alice’s feigned indifference as she says, “Oh, you needn’t choose!” as politely as she could.
- Raymond Smullyan Excerpts at Dover Publications (letsplaymath.net)
- Daily Puzzle! – March 14th (mathematicalmischief.wordpress.com)
- Puzzles (sharonvogt.wordpress.com)