MAZE Introduction

“This is not really a book. This is a building in the shape of a book…a Maze. Each numbered page depicts a room in the maze.” “Test your wits against mine. I guarantee that my maze will challenge you to think in ways you’ve never thought before. But beware…one wrong turn and you may never escape!”

- From MAZE, Copyright 1985.

In 1985 Christopher Manson’s “MAZE: Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle” was released and took the nation by storm. It was, most likely, the world’s most popular visual puzzle until the computer game MYST was released in 1993 which was based on the MAZE archetype.  MAZE was also the first of a new genre of puzzle, the immersive visual puzzle. Paving the way for games such as MYST, Tomb Raider and Portal.

MAZE is a picture book filled with 45 black and white hand drawn rooms. On the facing page is a conversation between the visitors and the guide. Each room, and the bit of conversation that goes with it, contains several puzzles. Sometimes the puzzle indicates the correct door to take. At other times that you have taken a wrong turn, or that all hope is lost.

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MAZE is “played” by turning to the page number indicated on the door to pass through that door. Despite having only 45 rooms, the number of connections between the rooms makes mapping MAZE practically impossible. The structure of the maze is multi-goal, non-continuous, overlapping, objective, static, and conceptual (see Maze Theory).

But mapping the MAZE is peanuts compared to the puzzles. Solving more than a handful of the puzzles is monumentally difficult. Mr. Manson’s MAZE, true to its title, is probably the world’s most difficult puzzle. The subtlety  depth and variety of the puzzles is incredible. Mr. Manson made use of every basic form of puzzle available (see Puzzle Theory), and he invented several sub-types.

MAZE contains an astonishing number of puzzles, more than 116. Of these 116+ puzzles the solution for only 21 are presently available online. I say we change that…

Welcome to the conversation.

- Images and quoted text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson



5 thoughts on “MAZE Introduction

    • You’ve made a key observation, but the conclusion is incorrect. There is a way to access those rooms, within the rules of the book–no cheating, no imaginative interpretation, no walking through unmarked doors.

    • “No imaginative interpretation” is maybe slightly misleading. I’d say that reaching that clump of rooms requires some imaginative… observation, I guess is the best word?

    • That’s fair. I’m just trying to emphasize that the route to those rooms is completely consistent with the rules you’ve been using up until now.


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