Solution to Cryptic Transmission

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Answer: FAX

by Lewis Chen

Solution

The title suggests that these are cryptic clues, and indeed they are. However they aren't exactly the standard single definition and single wordplay clues - often, there are more parts! Anyway, solve the clues:

Across

  1. Dance, replacing roasted heart with medium / Kobe / beef originally ingested by mother / snake = MAMBA
    [_s_→M]AMBA / def / MAM(B_)A / def
  2. Everything taking to / a cost / at endless polls = ATOLL
    A(TO)LL / A+TOLL / AT+_OLL_
  3. Prime / brew of ether / ash conceals start of hidden / letter count of this puzzle's answer = THREE
    def / THREE* / T(H_)REE / def
  4. Confused shore / firefighter / uncovered western cresol after first hiding / parts of those remains = HOSER
    HOSER* / def / H_+_OSER_< / hidden (tHOSE Remains)
  5. Didn't pay attention to / beginning signs, jumped uncentered, / was knocked out / and metaphorically died = SLEPT
    def / S_+LE(-a)PT / def / def

Down

  1. Misguided principal at high school / oddly meant this / turned fake over time = MATHS
    M_+AT+HS / M_A_T_H_S / MA(T)HS< (fake=sham rev.)
  2. Massachusetts town / playwright Fugard / is outspoken jerk with a lisp = ATHOL
    def / def / ATHOL ("asshole" homophone, with a lisp)
  3. Piece detailed / the next step to this puzzle: / British inspector = MORSE
    MORSE[-l] / def / def
  4. Censorship: / above-average cover up = BLEEP
    def / B + LEEP<
  5. Drunkenly alter / notification / (wary / retweet) after beer = ALERT
    ALERT* / def / def / ALE+RT

These fit into a 5×5 word square (and can be used to help get the trickier clues) as follows:

MAMBA
ATOLL
THREE
HOSER
SLEPT

One of the clues suggests what to do next: Morse code. Wordplays tend to be longer than definitions, so they should be assigned dashes (although if you do the other direction, .-.- turns out not to be valid English Morse). Thus, we get:

Across:
MAMBA = -.-. = C
ATOLL = --- = O
THREE = .--. = P
HOSER = -.-- = Y
SLEPT = .-.. = L

Down:
MATHS = --- = O
ATHOL = ..- = U
MORSE = -.. = D
BLEEP = .- = A
ALERT = -..- = X

Using the final enumeration, we get COPY LOUD AX. This is another cryptic clue with enumeration provided as 3, resolving to the answer "copy" = F+AX = FAX.

Author’s Notes

This puzzle was initially inspired by thinking about how double definitions were sometimes naturally extended to greater numbers of definitions (triple definitions, even octuple definitions) in standard cryptics, so I thought that maybe having multiple wordplays would be fun too. With long and short parts, Morse seemed like a natural encoding scheme and thus this puzzle concept was born.

Thanks to my editors, Jakob and Anderson, who helped with making the grid as well as some of the clues.