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The Warpsmith Returns by Tom Stone

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii August, 1996)


Here's a stylish if odd little collection of material from Sweden's Tom Stone, who has published a number of items in his native language, and with whom English-speaking readers may be previously familiar via his writing of a recent manuscript on Lennert Green's Snap Deal. There are six sizable entries here of varying quality, plus some assorted ideas and self-described "padding," but the young Mr. Stone is obviously thinking, and some of that thinking may well be of interest to readers.

Across the Void is a Cards Across routine with an offbeat method; Champagne is a nifty impromptu production of a glass of liquid, followed immediately by the performer's shoe, based on an idea of Lance Burton's from Mac King's lecture notes; Impromptu Assembly is a version of David Roth's Original Chinese Coin Assembly (lately popularized by Michael Ammar; will someone please note that, with all due respect, this routine does not in fact use "forced perspective," and the human brain is not simply incapable of judging depth, as Mr. Stone seems to think. On the other hand, at least in Mr. Stone's case, perhaps this latter inaccuracy merely reflects the challenges of writing in a second language). In Mr. Stone's version, any four small items, be they coins (of perhaps different denominations) or not, may be used; young Brit Mark Elsdon is showing a related item around in his current lecture, and while these routines are certainly interesting to magicians, I believe there are contrivances in the handling which greatly weaken these effects for layman when compared to the Roth/Ammar approaches. Mr. Stone does point out in a cover letter that his version is not intended as a replacement, but rather as merely an impromptu solution; my advice would be to use what you regard as a superior version and, in its absence, no version may be preferable to one yielding inferior results.

What's up, Doc (Note to Aldo: Mr. Stone caught the comma but missed the question mark) begins by misquoting and not attributing Dr. Jacob Daley, and then describes a quick magic sight gag from Peter Gröning; Gold Wielder is yet another handling of the Linking Finger Rings that combines ideas from many sources but contributes two original thoughts, one of which is extremely clever and eliminates a couple of moves from the usual handling—this could be very useful in competent hands. Impromptu Interlude is a deeply insane idea wherein the mage does a quick duplication of the first moment of the stage illusion known as Interlude; the advantage of this method is that I imagine you needn't pay Jim Steinmeyer for performance rights (although anyone owning the original certainly should) and the disadvantage would presumably be the use of a stooge.

Occhamman Card is Mr. Stone's ninth solution for the ubiquitous Brother Hamman Signed Card plot; in a note, Mr. Stone tells me he has already devised a tenth version which is presumably an improvement, as it does not require the force and the multiple gaffs described herein.

The author's youth shows in his sometimes distracting humor, his sincere but often incomplete attempts at crediting, and perhaps most obviously in his unfortunate, apparently humorously-intended use of terms like "stolen" and "borrowed" as euphemisms or jokes about theft. Mr. Stone appears to be of honorable intent in these matters—presuming that Daryl's referenced presentation for his trick "Untouched" is published and, one hopes, not actually stolen; nevertheless, even in the former case, magicians can little afford to make jokes about the interchangeability of these terms, for they are in fact not interchangeable except among thieves. Having now cuffed Mr. Stone for this error of judgment, I will compliment him for the pleasant production values of this work (albeit that he desperately needs some help in determining how to properly split English words into syllables), and especially for the distinctive illustrations. Mr. Stone has some improvements to make, but I'll be interested in keeping an eye on his future efforts.

8 - 1/4" X 11-1/2" perfect-bound; 50 pages; 68 line drawings; 1996; Publisher: Tom Stone