SUMMARY: An ingenious prediction and Triumph routine with a color changing deck twist and no gimmicks!
Paul Harris specializes in the art of astonishment. SOS (Son of Stunner) is part of his True Astonishments Boxed Set, which consists of 9 DVDs. But not everyone is in a position to drop $300 to get this highly sought after set, despite all the treasures that lie within. So it's good news that some of the effects are being released as individual videos as part of Bro Gilbert's series "The Vault".
The SOS (Son of Stunner) routine comes from Volume 8 of the boxed set and is described by the ad copy as "Paul Harris' ingenious no-gimmicks color changing deck!" It is a revised version of "Color Stunner" which was first published in The Magic of Paul Harris (1976), and was a Color Changing Deck routine combined with a Triumph effect. The revised version also has a prediction, in which the card the spectator stops at proves to match a prediction made at the start of the effect, and turns out to be the only card of that colour. It features three mind-blowing revelations at the end.
After making a secret prediction and some introductory patter about deck switches and marked cards, a deck is riffle shuffled with a face-up half going into a face-down half. Then you take cards from the top of the deck one at a time, putting them into the middle of the deck, telling the spectator that one of the face-down cards is secretly a marked card, and they have to stop you at any face-down card they want. When they stop you, the chosen card is shown to match the prediction.
That's already amazing. But it gets even more astonishing! Then the deck is spread, and all the cards are shown to have turned the same direction. Then, as a final kicker, the deck is turned face down, and all the cards are shown to have different backs - an invisible deck switch has occurred.
And yes, there really are no gimmicks, and this impossible effect is fairly straight forward to perform, and brilliantly conceived.
What you get for around $10 is an instant digital download of the video, which demonstrates and teaches the routine. You can play the video via streaming, or download it in *.mp4 format to view on your computer with any video program. The entire video is under 8 minutes long, and the downloaded file is about 73MB in total size. The video consists of the following: 1 minute - introduction; 1.5 minutes - performance; 5 minutes - explanation.
The first time I saw this trick, I watched the performance that comes at the start of the video download, but this has zero patter, and only includes a visual run-through of the routine. It's actually somewhat confusing, in part because of the amount of powerful magic that is happening, that the mind can't really process what has just gone on. I'd strongly recommend that instead you watch the trailer with Bro Gilbert performing the routine, because his patter is excellent, and really helps you understand what is happening.
The teaching method is somewhat unusual - there's no spoken words. Instead, there's background music, and there's a demonstration of the routine using an overhead view that focuses closely on the hands and cards, with explanations provided by written text on the screen. It's not exactly conventional, but it covers everything more than satisfactorily, and camera angles of the exposed views are also provided. The trick isn't a very complicated one, so everything is fairly straight forward and easy-to-follow despite the teaching method used.
My only complaint isn't so much about the teaching - I only wish a video clip of a performance with patter had been included. Fortunately you can always watch the trailer for that purpose, which has good performances with Bro Gilbert.
There's a small amount of set-up required, but no gimmicks are used in this routine, and that's definitely one of its strengths. In terms of the method, most of the routine relies on a single move, which is well taught on the video. It's not a difficult move, although it will require some practice. Not all intermediate magicians will be familiar with this move, but it's well worth taking the time to learn given how strong this routine is. Fortunately it doesn't require advanced sleight of hand skills to perform, but just some time practicing to ensure that it can be done smoothly. Everything else is very straight forward, and there's not even anything complex to remember - all thanks to the genius method of Paul Harris. There's also a nice explanation that covers an optional Ladder display that helps sell part of the illusion.
Paul Harris has come up with something very special with this effect. Simplicity and clarity are important in magic, and it can be a mistake to try to pack too much into a single routine. SOS (Son of Stunner) features three amazing elements of astonishment packed into one routine, but when performed correctly, they are all clear and distinct phases, each designed to generate surprise. Pacing is important, because it is important not to move too quickly from the initial revelation of the predicted card, given how powerful this moment is. But the three distinct moments of surprise mean that there's a wonderful build-up, and there's really potential to knock over your spectators not just once, but several times. You can have quite a bit of fun with the patter and presentation as well.
Another strength of this routine is the relative simplicity. Aside from the one move (which with some practice is not that difficult really), everything is accomplished in a very straight forward manner. And there are really no gimmicks, no deck switches, and everything is examinable by the spectator at the end. It's hard to believe that so much can be accomplished with so little, but this gimmick-less Triumph effect blended with a colour changing deck really does end clean, and can blow people away.
Paul Harris is a legend of magic, and brilliant effects like SOS (Son of Stunner) demonstrate just why he has so much respect from the magic community. He really does have the unique ability to create something that can genuinely amaze and entertain. With a download of this great routine, you'll have the tools you need to perform a clever Paul Harris routine that you'll get a great deal of mileage from. I'm very pleased to see that this gem from Paul Harris' Astonishment set is now available for purchase as an individual download, making this gold nugget within easy reach for all of us!
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame