And now, to fill the gaping hole in your life left by this blog and for your viewing pleasure, a guest review from our own sweet bearded delight of a man, Jammy Swisse Roll:
In November 2015, Benjamin Earl published a small booklet called F For Fiction for £25. Here is an excerpt from the sales pitch:
“I am releasing F for Fiction, a new publication for the lovers of insanely strong card magic. This publication features three killer routines, ALL of which work in close-up, parlour*** and stage settings. These effects can all be performed with a borrowed, shuffled deck and look like real magic. This is card magic at its strongest and will fool laymen and magicians alike.
F for Fiction
1) Four-Card Impossible
A spectator shuffles a deck of cards and then impossibly locates four-of-a-kind! This devastatingly fooling routine leaves no clue to its methodology; it just looks like a miracle. This gem can be performed with a borrowed, shuffled deck and will fool the heck out of everyone.
2) Finish 52
A freely named card is impossibly located from a shuffled deck. A spectator shuffles a deck of cards and the deck is then placed into the performers pocket. The spectator now names any card they want, despite the fact the deck cannot be seen, and has been genuinely shuffled, the performer is able to reach into his pocket and remove their freely named card! Remember… the spectator genuinely names any card they want and the deck has been shuffled! This effect is impossible to fathom****.
This is my handling of Dai Vernon’s ‘The Travelers’, however, ‘Followers’ is not only cleaner and easier to perform, but it has a climax that nobody sees coming! ‘Followers’ also has a post-modern presentation, which transforms the routine into a stunning, virtuosic, spectacle*****. This is a very special routine, which I suspect will be immediately adopted by many. It has been a secret weapon of mine for many years and part of me is dying inside for finally releasing it.
• The Fade Away Deck Vanish (a visual deck vanish which looks like trick photography).
• Many other technical and psychological tips and techniques.”
On face value, sounds pretty good, but like most ads, this is focusing more on selling the good, the bad and the ugly as the next best thing…
Let’s take a real hard look at F For Fiction:
1) Four-Card Impossible
Effect: A spectator shuffles the deck. You now remove a single card and give it to the spectator to put in a pocket. They now handle the cards for the rest of the effect: to start, the spectator selects a random card for the performer to place in his pocket. Now they cut the deck in two: with one half they reverse a card in the middle and with the other half they cleanly cut it in two. The card they gave you is an Ace, the card in their pocket is an Ace, the card they cut to is an Ace and the card they reversed is an Ace! All four cards have been found and it can be done with a borrowed, shuffled deck at any time.
This effect is Benjamin Earl’s take on Larry Jennings’ Prefiguration effect (well, similar style of effect). He says he wanted to do this effect in such a way that the performer appears to have never touched the deck and there are no complex moves.
Okay let’s stop right here for a second. If you wanted to do some kind of production of a 4 of a kind (or a matching 4 of a kind) where you appear to never touch the deck, what techniques might you use for such a criteria?
… Think about it for a second… I’ll wait….
Did you say Cull? Criss Cross Force? Pastrami Sandwich? Some kind of Gemini Twins style dealing procedure?
If you guessed any of those, either you’re a god damn psychic or you already own these notes, because those are the”psychologically disguised” techniques in play. Now I’ll concede and say that this is a simple and straight forward effect and method, but why would you published this shit??!?! This is the type of shit people come up with after playing around with a deck for a few hours after reading Micah Lasher’s shit-stain of a beginner book (10/10, would recommend).
If you’re insistent on trying this out, just make sure you get your timing, presentation and misdirection down right, or may as well just punch yourself in the dick repeatedly for 5 minutes, because you’d probably get the same outcome; disappointment and a really sore dick.
2) Finish 52
Effect: A spectator shuffles a deck and it is placed into the performer’s pocket (the deck is genuinely shuffled and the performer cannot see a single card). The spectator names any card they like and, without looking, the performer then produces the named card from his pocket!
Did you get a semi-chub too? Did your nostrils flare as you shit yourself in excitement? This sounds FUCKING AMAZING! But wait, after reading the method, the effect is actually slightly different. Let me fix it for you guys:
Effect: A spectator shuffles a deck and it is placed into the performer’s pocket (the deck is genuinely shuffled and the performer cannot see a single card). The spectator names any card they like (e.g. 7 of Spades) and, without looking, the performer then produces a 3 of Spades and 4 of diamonds which combined make up the 7 of Spades….or a 2, 4 and an Ace. This deluded performer has now concluded he has found the named spectator’s card from his pocket.
The first phase is terrible and should have been shot at birth…. and the second phase is what a performer might do as an “out” when you get the spectator’s card wrong in a trick, and then have to secretly locate, cull and produce it from your pocket.
I’m going to repeat that to let it sink in HOW FUCKING TERRIBLE THIS EFFECT IS:
- Terrible first phase
- Second phase is something you could literally add to 90% of cards tricks if you fuck them up…that’s why it’s a strong out.
And Ben wants you to think he’s a genius by adding it as an intentional phase/finale..
Effect: Four Aces are signed and placed into the middle of the deck. Instantaneously, the Aces vanish from the deck. Three Aces are found in different pockets about the performer and finally the deck completely visibly disappears, leaving the final Ace at the performer’s fingertips.
I have to admit..This is a decent version of the Travellers plot, but again, it just feels like something you would come up with playing around with a deck for a few hours (or less).
Imagine you have 4 aces on top of the deck…how would you produce them from your pocket? Got your list ready?
Okay good…chances are 4 of the ways on your list are in this trick.
Like trick #1, it’s a decent trick and I could probably see it playing strong (if you execute all your palms and sleights properly without looking like a janky arthritic mole man).
As for the ‘trick photography’ deck vanish…. Meh…
Not that great.
So, what’s the dealio?
One trick was straight up shit soup on a hot Sunday. I wouldn’t perform it if my life depended on it.
The other two tricks were kind of decent, but feel like shit you can come up with while learning your double lifts from your double undercuts.
I was going to also review his recent works “Less is More 3”, “Less is More Bonus” and “Switch” but my thoughts on these works are more or less the same:
“IS HE REALLY PUBLISHING THIS?
Does he genuinely believe he added something significant to the effect? Is he really charging £25 for this shit”. F for Fiction is no exception. Ben tries to disguise his simplicity and underwhelming methods by emphasizing the psychology of the effect with shit like “trust me, this is psychologically fooling for both laymen AND magicians…if I could I’d show you in person and you’d be fooled…I’ve developed this over many years and refined it…blah blah blah….I’m a motherfuckin’ genius, get on my dick”
I don’t see any genius in this piece of work, as Ben himself claims to be. This booklet sucks. Not recommended.