BBM have just made the last few copies of this excellent little book from John Bannon available on their website, and since they kindly provided me with a review copy, here’s a short review…
[UPDATE BBM have sold out but it is now available from Merchant of Magic]
I like John Bannon’s work (I came clean on that one when I reviewed Bullets After Dark) so it is probably no surprise that I enjoyed this book, which was first released at Blackpool earlier this year.
It’s 75 pages long and contains 7 tricks (all cards, all ‘packet tricks’) – so it is only just over £1 a trick which is a bargain. They are part of his ‘fractal magic’ thinking – packet tricks which end clean and examinable (like Duplicity or Spin Doctor). Here are my thoughts on the routines.
Mega ‘Wave – is a close cousin of Steven Tucker’s Omega series of routines (in its latest incarnation that is available in another BBM DVD – Alpha to Omega) which in itself has some links to Max Maven’s B’Wave. The plot is a bit like Twisted Sisters but ends clean, and unlike Omega requires no palming. I will probably say this again, but much of the value here comes in reading Bannon’s thinking on plot, effect and method. Learn from this man! But it is a great trick and not too difficult to do.
Fractal Re-Call – a no-gaff version of his Call of the Wild effect – or Wild Card with a rationale (and some extra magic!). A few more moves here though still do-able. I like the plot but am not convinced that the original Wild Card presentation was as week as Bannon suggests. Also, it is a bit of a set-up to go into from a normal deck (which to my mind is necessary for the presentation he suggests). So for me, this is not one of the strongest items in the book.
Short Attention Scam – this is a re-mix of his Royal Scam. In brief, from a set of 9 red-backed Ace of Spades, 5 turn into a royal flush, and the other 4 get completely different back designs. I love this routine – lots of magic in a short time, and not too difficult to do. It uses the same set of cards as Royal Scam so if you already have that you are on to a winner.
Mag-7 – a streamlined handling of The Magnificent Seven (from the now out of print Smoke and Mirrors) which is essentially a no-gaff Wild Card routine. Not much to say here. It builds on a number of the concepts in the previous effects and works well.
Poker Pairadox – a re-working of Nick Trost’s classic Matching Court Cards. This is not the most mystifying effect for the audience, but it has a nice patter and routine and is all but self-working making it very clean from a presentation point of view. My only real gripe would be it isn’t an instant re-set (though the re-set isn’t difficult) – so not ideal for walkaround.
Fractal Jacks – almost an oil and water routine where the Jacks keep on returning to the performer’s hand (in spite of being dealt into two hands) – with the kicker of the other cards being the four aces, and as usual all examinable. For me, this wasn’t too magical. It did contain an interesting digression on why Bannon didn’t go with Simon Aronson and David Solomon on a plot variation here. I think I’m with them…
Wicked – this is a transposition effect where a card travels from between two black queens to between two red queens. I have mixed feelings about this one. It is a pretty clean transposition. But in the first phase, the ‘extra’ card (the one which transposes) is not actually shown until after the transposition has taken place. Given Bannon’s own comment that “in any transposition, it’s important that the spectators know which cards are where” this seems like a bit of a problem. On the other hand, I like the fact that the second phase ‘happens in reverse’ – since it is always good to keep the spectators guessing!
There are seven effects here – I think most people would find at least a couple that would suit them. Several of the effects require a table which may be a problem for some contexts. Some require a set-up (though with the more truly ‘packet trick’ ones – that is to be expected). As ever, I enjoy Bannon’s thinking and discussion of the evolution of the effects almost as much as the effects themselves. They will, I hope, help you think more about your own magic – the why and the how.
For the price I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer. Get it! Especially while BBM are throwing in some free cards. And if, like me, you are a bit of a book collector, the you’ll want to get one before they’re all gone!
UPDATE 12/2/11 – Mega Wave now available at Merchant of Magic for £9.95