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Harry Lorayne's Apocalypse: Volumes 1-5 by Harry Lorayne

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii November, 2000)


I well remember the appearance of the first issue of Apocalypse in January of 1978. Nineteen-year-old upstart illustrator Richard Kaufman proposed an idea for a new journal to veteran magician/writer/publisher Harry Lorayne, then 51, and the two joined forces to create a new journal of magic consisting almost entirely of trick content, following the model of the Phoenix and other such trick centric publications. The first issue was a bombshell, including material from then rising star Paul Harris, coin maestro David Roth debuting his astonishing version of "Chink-A-Chink" (upon which others would, in later years, in turn build their own reputations), and underground legend-to-be Geoff Latta. In that first year, contributions would come from Derek Dingle, John Cornelius, Bro. John Hamman, Ken Krenzel, Gene Maze, Slydini, Dai Vernon, Herb arrow, the publishers themselves, and many more—to risk the cliché, a Who's Who of Close-Up Magic of the era.

Kaufman (whose contribution as co-founder is substantially ignored in this volume, and never mentioned in Mr. Lorayne's foreword) departed after the first year, and Mr. Lorayne continued the magazine for another 20 years. By year seven or eight I confess deciding that the material and the publisher's standards had worn out much of their welcome; when I realized that I was continuing my subscription primarily to keep the collection intact, I suspended it.

Nevertheless, the first five years were extraordinary, capturing an exciting era in the evolution of close-up magic, and especially close-up sleight-of-hand magic. While the contents may not be quite as exciting now—much of the most famous material, from contributors like Roth and Harris for instance, has since been republished in book form—nevertheless the sheer quantity of material is awesome, numbering over 500 contributions. Talk about unknown gems—this could be the definitive collection, and might just as well have been re-titled "Hidden in Print." Treasures abound, waiting to be rediscovered: I recently taught a student a fabulous large coin production that coincidentally lies hidden in these pages, and unless you find it, he has a virtual exclusive. This is a surefire investment that will keep you busy and delighted for months and years to come.

Harry Lorayne's Apocalypse: Volumes 1-5 • Harry Lorayne and Richard Kaufman • 8" x 11" laminated board covers • 720 pages