Fully Booked | Worlds Beyond

By Harapan Ong - Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today, we turn our attention to the magic of Paul Curry, and the book that compiles a large collection of his magic: Worlds Beyond by Stephen Minch. This book is a pretty hefty one, and it contains over sixty items from the genius himself.

Why do I call Paul Curry a genius? Well, to begin with, Paul Curry is the inventor for Out Of This World, arguably the best card trick ever invented in the history of card magic. For the uninitiated, Out Of The World is a trick where a spectator separates a normal deck of cards into red and black without ever looking at the faces. The trick is done by the spectator in their hands, and is completely self-working. For the initiated, you would have undoubtedly heard of the legend surrounding this trick, involving magician Harry Green performing this trick for Winston Churchill during a dinner party at the height of World War 2.

It is really easy for Out Of This World to overshadow all of Paul’s other contributions, but I think this book does a really great job of highlighting all of Paul’s other contributions. One thing I really like about Paul’s magic is that he tends to favour the subtler and less “brute-force” methods for his effects, preferring to go for more stealthy methods that are mathematical or self-working in nature. The good thing is even though he has chosen to go down this route, the tricks are not particularly convoluted or procedural, which is often a common trait of tricks that are solely based on self-working mathematical principles.

Some highlights for me regarding tricks of such a nature were:

Out Of The World: Need I say more? The original method is described in this book in great detail. There is also an update handling of the basic effect, titled Best of Possible Worlds, which is a slightly more layered routine involving a selected card that ends up in the wrong colour pile, and a card that the spectator is unsure of turning out to be the Joker. I am not sure if I like having the selection in there - I think it doesn’t add much to the overall strength of the effect, but some people might like it.

The Power of Thought: I learnt this routine from another magician when I was still a young kid, without knowing the true originator of this brilliant, blockbuster effect. A red deck and a blue deck of cards are used. Spectator randomly picks a card from the red deck, which the magician displays and leaves outjogged in its original position in the deck. The magician and spectator begin dealing through the red and blue decks, turning cards face up one by one from the top and showing that none of the corresponding cards in the same position in each deck match. As you might have expected, against all odds, the only cards to match turn out to be the selection in the red deck and its corresponding duplicate in the blue deck. The effect is self working, super easy to do and absolutely baffling.

A Swindle of Sorts: Probably the best use of a move called the Swindle Switch. The magician shows the Ace to King of Spades in order. The magician secretly switches the positions of three pairs of cards in the sequence, and impossibly, the spectator correctly identifies the switched pairs and switches them back, without ever looking at the faces. The subtleties involved in this routine is just sublime, and is definitely worth your attention.

Of course, I have chosen to highlight these tricks for their subtle, clever methods combined with very strong effects. You might also have noticed that all the tricks I have highlighted so far revolve around the idea of “impossible coincidences”. For those who are not enamoured with coincidence effects, you might not enjoy Paul’s magic as much - it seems like many of the tricks in this book are essentially coincidence effects. There are a few other coincidence effects based on the Gilbreath Principle that are interesting, but not something I would perform.

However, not all of the items from Paul are self-working or based on coincidences. For example, Paul Curry also came up with the Curry Turnover Change, a one handed card switch that is done when a card is turned over on the table, secretly switching it out for the top card of the deck. He also has two very interesting handlings for the Double Lift that I think is worth mentioning here:

The Relativity Lift: What the audience seems is you use a single finger to push off the top card of the deck towards the front, before turning it face up. In reality, you’re executing a Double Lift. The method is very clever indeed.

The Drawback Double Lift: Using two fingers, you seem to peel back the top card and display its face - in reality, you are actually peeling off two cards! I like this a lot, and I can see how it can be applied to certain situations in my routines.

I have also been focusing on Paul’s card magic, which takes up the bulk of the book. However, the last chapter focuses on some rope magic. Although personally I don’t do much rope stuff, it might be interesting to note that Paul Curry created the Sliding Knot effect. The method in here is pretty elaborate, but I think the effect is incredibly fooling and certainly strong enough for Doug Henning, who performed it on television many years ago.

Finally, to conclude, I also wish to mention that another one of Paul Curry’s many important contributions to magic is the Open Prediction Plot. Essentially, the magician openly predicts the card that the spectator will select later on. The spectator deals through the deck face up and leaves one card face down, which is then shown to be the predicted card. Stewart James refined the plot and named it 51 Faces North, and since then this plot has remained an unsolved problem for avid card magicians. There have been countless methods published to solve this problem, and this book describes Paul’s solution to the problem. Personally, I find Paul’s solution to the Open Prediction problem to be rather complicated and unsatisfying, so I was rather disappointed by it, considering how strong and well constructed every other item in the book is.

To conclude, I think you should do yourself a favour and check out Paul Curry’s material in Worlds Beyond. Paul Curry is really an unsung genius in magic whose magic is both easy to do and incredibly fooling for both laypeople and magicians.

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