Author Gruff Davies has found a whole new way to promote a novel — his science fiction thriller, The Looking Glass Club, contains a series of puzzles — and if you solve them, you can win prizes, including an iPad.
According to New Scientist, Davies' novel takes place in 2010 and 2035. In 2010, a physics student at Imperial College London named Zeke joins a clandestine society that has discovered a drug that causes shared hallucinations — and these shared visions may be a parallel universe. In 2035, Zeke has changed his name to Steel and he's on the run in Manhattan. Zeke and his future self must work together to figure out the nature of the reality glimpsed by the drug-takers of the Looking Glass Club.
And scattered throughout the book are clues — 32 puzzles taken from the diary of another physics student who committed suicide. Someone explains to Zeke, "They're encodings of tiny pictures. Some still frames taken from the possible states of a tiny 2D universe, thirty-two pixels square."
If you can solve the first four of these by Feb. 11, 2011, you can be entered to win an iPad. And solving these puzzles also allows you to join the Big Game on Davies' website, in which you can accumulate cash prizes up to £1 million if you solve them all. (Reading through the small print on the site, though, it sounds like the fund is capped at £1 million, but there's no guarantee that anybody will win that much. Also, the fund will be supplied from the book's profits, so there's another, much lower, limit on how much money may be in play.)
The first puzzle has already been solved, so you can check the answer at TheLookingGlassClub.com.
My favorite part is where Davies explains why you can't just use the checksums to cheat on his puzzles.