Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “I’ve Got Two Words for You” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re told: The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a well-known science fiction writer. There are four authors in the grid:
- [11d: Author of “Franny and Zooey” and “The Catcher in the Rye”]: SALINGER
- [17a: Author of “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Shadow Out of Time”]: LOVECRAFT
- [39d: Author of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Women in Love”]: LAWRENCE
- [62a: Author of “Carry On, Jeeves” and “Psmith in the City”]: WODEHOUSE
All go by their first two initials. There are four matching two-word entries in the grid:
- J.D. Salinger: JOTDOWN
- H.P. Lovecraft: HOTPOT
- D.H. Lawrence: DONHO
- P.G. Wodehouse: PASSGO
There is one other two-word grid entry with no matching author: NICEKID (I got deked by HELIPAD for a moment, but that’s one word). Final step: find a “well-known science fiction writer” who goes by the initials N.K. That matches N.K. Jemisin, our meta solution.
N.K. Jemisin is the author of the Broken Earth trilogy (among many other books), which has sold over 2 million copies. She has won a pile of awards, including four Hugo Awards (winning three in a row for each book of the Broken Earth trilogy, a record), four Locus Awards, a Nebula Award, and many others. And, from a fun crossword perspective, the trilogy was also featured in a recent Jemisin-themed meta by Lisa Grossman and Ada Lerner in The Inkubator.
Jemisin courageously faced horrific racism from “Vox Day” (former member of the Science Fiction Writers of America) and his white supremacist allies as part of the “Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies” campaigns. This article provides an overview of the racism Jemisin faced. Mainstream articles often gloss over the terrible specifics involved; the next link has actual quotes. Trigger warning: they are truly awful. We’ll end with Jemisin’s amazing 2018 Hugo acceptance speech.
I’ve never heard of her, but then I have no interest in sci-fi. Famous? You got me.
Given the need for a famous sci-fi writer, I did think right away of a crossword staple, C. S. Lewis. (Lovecraft came to mind only once I started solving.) And while it isn’t quite the pattern, there were crossing clues starting C and S. Was that enough? I thought it might be but otherwise gave up.
I got (incorrectly) to J.G. Ballard by noticing that the initials of the four authors in the grid could be assembled into pairs, except for a J and a G, which incompleteness could be rectified by adding an author with those initials. This felt like a weak meta, and now I know why. I should have persisted until I discovered the usual cleverness. (But I might never have found it, since I didn’t know HOTPOT wasn’t a single word.)
I threw a Hail Mary pass and submitted H.G.Wells which was obviously wrong.
So did I !
A funny thing happened as I began working the solution. I took the title literally, and thought 65A played a role – ewe (pronounced you) with a two word clue (thus I have 2 words for you).
I almost recovered after finding the initials hidden in the 4 two-word solutions. I did highlight nice kid but could not get the link.
Nicely done puzzle with a great meta answer. I’m a huge fan of N.K. Jemisin’s work, so it’s a treat to get to see her name featured in this format. She has a short story collection called How Soon ‘Til Black Future Month? that is a great intro to her style, for anyone curious. Even better, listen to LeVar Burton read her stories “Valedictorian” or “Cuisine des Memoires” on his podcast!
Just finished reading the trilogy and still had to Google to realize who it was, that was an lol moment. Series is written in the second-person which takes some getting used to.
The, “Two Words,” in the title caused me to look for two-word entries and highlight them. This did not immediately offer anything up, and their placement seemed random, so I refocused.
Beginning with LOVECRAFT, there are four symmetrically-place last names in a kind of pinwheel arrangement. I recalled that all of his stories that I’ve read had the author as H.P. Lovecraft, and remembered J.D. Salinger, too. I vaguely recalled D.H. Lawrence, and looked up Wodehouse. As soon as I saw it I immediately recalled PASSGO, because it was the last two-word I had found in the grid, plus it’s an unusual fill. The PG association was immediate, and the others confirmed in moments, leaving only NK.
I googled this:
science fiction author NK
and there it was.
This is how I got it too. It seemed pretty straightforward to me, and I’m not great at metas.