Maze (or Maze: Solve the World's Most Challenging Puzzle to use its Long Title) is a 1985... puzzle book(?) written by Christopher Manson.
A group of people have decided to enter the Maze, which is basically a giant mansion with many rooms (only 45 shown, but there may be more). The challenge is to get from Room 1 to Room 45 and back to Room 1 again, using the various clues in the rooms and vague bits of info provided by the book's Lemony Narrator who also serves as the Maze's owner and guide.
The book has 48 pages, 45 for the rooms and 3 for the introduction/directions. In each elaborately detailed drawing, readers will have the option of 1 to 9 doors to choose from in each room which will lead them to another one. Sharp and smart readers will see past all the red herrings and be able to get from the beginning to the end to the beginning in 16 moves, which is the shortest known path. Not-so-bright readers will soon find themselves going in circles or even ending up in the Abyss, a room where entry means automatic failure.
The book was created originally as a promotion, where the person to solve it would receive $10,000. After two years, none of the people that entered solved the puzzle to Manson's satisfaction, but 12 entrants got close enough to split the prize between them.
It is still in publication despite the contest being long over, and has puzzled and confounded two generations of puzzlers ever since.
Not to be confused with the 2000 movie of the same name Maze.
Maze: Solve the World's Most Challenging Puzzle provides examples of:
- Antagonist Title: Depending on if you see the Maze as evil or not.
- Door to Before: Very much averted. The solution to the maze requires finding the shortest path into and back out from room 45, so you can expect no shortcuts back into the daylight. In fact, due to the presence of various one-way doors, the shortest path back from room 45 to room 1 is not only different from the path you traverse to get in, but longer.
- Environmental Symbolism: Room 11 is shaped like a hamster cage, to symbolize the fact that you've gotten stuck in the loop and there's nothing you can do but either go in circles for eternity or eventually go into the Abyss.
- Featureless Protagonist: Made even more true by the fact that no one's really sure who the protagonist is supposed to be, whether it's the guide, the group of people that went into the Maze, or the the Maze itself.
- Mind Screw: Everything inside the Maze is so confusing and strange that it could pretty much change the title to Mind Screw: The Book.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Many of the rooms are just flat-out creepy, due to the strange things inside them or just the sole lack of people or an explanation of what you're seeing. Special mentions go out to Rooms 4, 6, 11, 18, 24, 25, 31, and 35.
- Red Herring: Don't bother trusting anything you see in the Maze, as only about 20% of the book's bizarre clues and images are actually helpful. The rest is just there to confuse you. There's even an actual red herring over the entrance to the house on the book's cover.
- Sapient House: Played with, as the Guide never tells us if the maze itself is alive and adds new additions on its own, or if the 'builders' mentioned in the Prologue and Room 9 are doing them.
- Shout-Out: Room 39 is basically one big shout out to The Cask of Amontillado.