FULLY BOOKED: Vortex
By Harapan Ong - Thursday, December 12, 2019
While I think there is no doubt in everyone’s minds that magic is (or at least can be) an art, unfortunately not many magicians can be considered as artists. Today, we turn our attention to someone I consider to be a true artist in the magic community - Tom Stone.
There are many reasons why I find Tom Stone’s magic to be artistic, but I think there are two main reasons I can cite. Firstly, I think he has good taste when it comes to deciding what good magic is. In other words, I feel that he has a good vision for what magic is and should be. And secondly, I find that after looking through his published work, he has this unrelenting determination when pursuing his ideal magic effect. He knows what he wants, and he will do anything to get there. And what he wants is generally very good.
Tom has published a number of books, but the one that I wish to focus on today is his first hardback book, Vortex. The reasons for choosing this book are simple. Firstly, it contains all the Tom Stone classics that we all know him for (more on this later). Secondly, I think that this is one of the most unique magic books on the market.
Its uniqueness is not just because of its odd shape (having horizontal “landscape” pages), but also because of the breadth of content in this book. Most books are usually centered around a particular genre of magic - cards, coins, or maybe just close up magic. However, Vortex covers everything from close-up magic to parlour and even stage routines. I think this is a strength of the book, and it shows that Tom is a renaissance man when it comes to his magic repertoire. Also, magicians interested in getting some inspiration for either close-up or stage magic can look to this book.
Some highlights for me when it comes to the tricks are:
Reality Glitch: A great variation on Aronson/Bannon/Solomon’s Among the Discards effect. A very surprising transposition occurs at the end of a sandwich effect - you have to see it for yourself to appreciate the ending!
King Castling: Another great version of Luke Dancy’s sandwich effect, Royale with Cheese. Two red Kings apparently trap the selection, but it turns out they have trapped the black Kings instead. Where the black Kings were to begin with is now the selection.
Benson Burner: A beautiful silent Benson Bowl routine where three spongeballs repeatedly go back under a large, empty metal bowl. The spectacular finale has a huge shower of spongeballs flow from the bowl like a waterfall.
A Toast for Charon: Probably the first trick I ever saw Tom perform, when I first watched him on YouTube. A great silent routine where three coins appear, disappear, appear again and suddenly a wine bottle appears!
One thing I really appreciate about this book is that when I was reading this book, I can tell that Tom is not one to to simply learn the classics and take them for granted. He is always looking out to analyse an effect (no matter how established or classic it is), find its shortcomings and then do his best to solve these issues.
Another thing I really love about this book is that scattered throughout the book are little sections called “Thought Kickers”, where Tom describes little ideas that he has with no solution. They are meant to inspire you to come up with your own methods for these intriguing plots. There are also short sections titled “From My Notebooks” and “Short Stuff”, containing short effects or short essays that Tom was written up as bonus effects. I love these little ideas because they are often very thought-provoking, and as someone who reads books mainly for inspiration, these might actually be my favourite parts of the book.
I have always loved Tom Stone’s vision for magic. It is very impressive how varied his material is, and yet he has somehow managed to maintain the high standard of magic that only a real artist can uphold. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend you to check out Vortex, or in fact any of his other books.
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