Meta: are you kidding?
This is an incredible, amazing, fascinating, and impressive puzzle. I figured out part of the gimmick but had no idea what to do with grid once I completed it. When I read Peter’s explanation tonight, I was utterly blown away. What a feat of construction!
The puzzle was fun to solve on its own, without getting the meta. It became clear very quickly that some of the answers left letters outside the grid. I printed it out and wrote them in by hand. Peter sent a nice clean copy with his explanation:
As you can see, the letters along the edges don’t spell anything. I figured it had to be some sort of code, and I was baffled. It turns out that the code is math.
If you think of the puzzle as a graph, then the left side and the bottom are the Y and X axes, respectively. You can then find letters plotted on the graph, and the title of the puzzle gives us the locations. We can break it into ordered pairs of letters, with each pair locating one square on the grid, like so:
- (C,O) = P
- (N,S) = A
- (P, I) = R
- (R, A) = A
- (C, Y) = N
- (T, H) = O
- (E, O) = I
- (R, Y) = A
PARANOIA is the answer.
So Patrick had to come up with all the words with extra letters, make them fit into a nice, solid puzzle with good fill, and then make sure PARANOIA appeared where he wanted it to. I am in awe. It’s a masterpiece.
There’s really nothing else to say. All hail our crossword overlords.