An entry in Fortnightly Topic Challenge #43: Variety Crossword Grids

the crossword grid, a hexagon with a side length of 6 smaller hexagons

This crossword is a tribute to the 2002 album Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater. No knowledge of the music itself is required for solving.

Each answer must be entered somewhere in the grid in the orientation given. There are no word boundaries and answers are allowed to share letters with other words, even in the same direction. For example, if the answers STAR and TARMAC go in the same direction, they are allowed to be placed into the grid as STARMAC, sharing three letters. All cells must be filled in the finished grid.

Some clues are missing a part which has been replaced by two question marks (??). Before solving, each of these must be filled with a different track title from the album, possibly with initial "the" omitted. Tracks are listed below.

The Glass Prison
Blind Faith
The Great Debate
About to Crash
War Inside My Head
The Test That Stumped Them All
Goodnight Kiss
Solitary Shell
About to Crash (reprise)
Losing Time/Grand Finale

Note: The parts in [square brackets] were added after the fact in order to make a couple of clues fairer.

↘ Southeast
1. Shouted former lover: Climate changing, ?? (9)
2. Edward passes currents (6)
3. Higher education institution running for merger (5)
4. Carry medium-sized emblem of tribe (5)
5. Actress Sophia is lacking energy, sad and alone (4)

↖ Northwest
6. Number of T's in ??'s not odd (5)
7. Maltreatment of one method of transport initially exposed (5)

↗ Northeast
8. Chanel, wearing gold, brought back ornamental style (6)
9. One in ?? regularly changed hands to show importance (5)
10. Wild star liberates naked men taking off top? (5)
11. Charity attire: top with three different sizes (4)
12. In support of mass arrangement (4)
13. Natively, Scotland is country shunned by Northern Ireland militia's backer (4)
14. Mixed-gender company feuds regularly (4)
15. Writer Morrison is working to be included in Stephen King's book after retirement (4)
16. Doctor leaves arctic plains to fish (4)
17. Rescue Norwegian leader, taking out a male Swede? (4)

↙ Southwest
18. Doctor's office to advise head of research to enter ?? (7)
19. Not entirely stable, ?? (5)
20. Gregory's ??, perhaps (4)
21. Little Richard covering ?? guitarist (4)
22. Ending of Trixie (2000) is based on a novel by Jane Austen (4)
23. Consider cases of deplorable egoism (4)

↓ South
24. [Vessel made of] ?? stopping to discourage something from happening (8)
25. Flowering plant transformed to corn (6)
26. Temperature turned up initially, heating up ?? (5)
27. Endlessly develop old automobile (5)
28. San Diego's empty desert (5)
29. Village near the Shire – or abandoned, amazing Erebor (4)
30. Stories of soap ingredients told (4)

↑ North
31. ?? dies off, being titled incorrectly (8)
32. [Site of] large reserve for oddly taken beast of burden (4,4)
33. Heads of university campus during final parts of ??: "That's a good point!" (6)
34. Eighteen-wheelers' components in base ?? (5)
35. Vagabond quietly dismissed method of transport (4)
36. Maybe mistress the King made ??, being a zero at the court (4)

Letter hints:

24 begins with D
26 begins with A
27 begins with V
32 begins with F

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Looks like it's somebody's dream FTC fortnight! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24, 2020 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


The solved clues:

clues solved, with explanations

Assembling the grid:

To start, you must have both FORT KNOX and EXCLAIMED. Because of how long they are, any placement of them will make them intersect. The only letter they share is the X.

After that, MISNAMED and SURGERY can be placed:
hex grid with 4 words placed

enter image description here

BLAST must go in the bottom right "row", so that lets us place PECK, ERIC, ROCOCO:
enter image description here

And at this point, there are enough words that it's not too difficult to fit the rest of them in.

The final grid:

enter image description here

(Thanks to Jeremy Dover and user39583 for helping me finish off some of the last few clues.)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 12 and 19 are not the intended answers. I have to say many of these ended up being too hard considering there's extra uncertainty in the clues and no checked squares to help. Sorry about that! Filling the grid shouldn't require very deep case-bashing but does require solving a few specific words before one can get started. Next time I need to remember to add a few alternative logical paths instead of just one... $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Nov 24, 2020 at 21:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I suspect #12 is rot13(SBEZ = SBE + Z). I also think #21 is rot13(REVP, uryq va Yvggyr Evpuneq, jub jnf gur thvgnevfg sbe Oyvaq Snvgu), which changes your song utilization. $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2020 at 22:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Might #19 be rot13(OYNFG = FGNOY (abg ragveryl fgnoyr) nantenzzrq (nobhg) [gb penfu] (qrs))? I don't love it, but it makes some sense. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2020 at 3:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can confirm @JeremyDover's 12, 19 and 21 are correct. I have edited 24 and 32 to make the clues fairer. $\endgroup$
    – Jafe
    Nov 25, 2020 at 6:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Ah, got 27 with the starting letter! It's (rot13)rIBYIr + Byq. Going to sleep soon - will edit this in (along with the other answers) tomorrow. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Nov 26, 2020 at 6:31

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