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DESTINATION ZERO Self-Working Card Tricks
Fasten your seatbelt.
You are travelling to a special province in the world of magic: Self-working card magic. Deceptive, automatic, and turbo-charged.
Join John Bannon on a twenty-five stop wide-ranging tour of self-working card magic. Not your typical non-sleight-of-hand tricks, Bannon has thoroughly analyzed these effects and backed up subtle principles with the careful, layered construction he is known for.
Anyone can cobble together a couple of principles and call it a “trick.” Bannon looks for synergies and leverages the method as much as possible. His objective: “One plus one should equal three—or more. Otherwise, why bother?”
You get the trick and you get Bannon talking about the trick, all in his precise, but easy-to-read style. The perfect travel companion on this exciting journey.
All with regular cards, without gaffs, crimps, pencil dots, “punches,” or marks. These highly-refined constructions will change the way you think about self-working card magic.
It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey. Enjoy the ride.
You know, as I get older, my ability to impress an audience with brute sleight of hand, wanes ever so slightly with each passing day; and the thought of that inevitable day when my decline will be glaringly obvious to even the uninitiated is a source of gnawing depression.
But then I remember the Bannon stuff, and I get a warm happy feeling. Thanks to John’s material, not only will they think I'm still good, they might even think I'm getting better!!
Sooner or later, everyone does Bannon.
In Destination Zero, John Bannon treats non-sleight-of-hand card magic with the meticulous care it deserves no less than any other magical endeavor at the card table. The many creations it contains—from fabulously practical impromptu effects to professional-quality feature items—are of a uniformly high standard and are supported both by their creator's personable style and by his many useful general observations about the non-sleight genre. I couldn't put it down, and it's a destination to which I'll be returning often.
What’s great about Destination Zero is the way that John has wrung every ounce of deviousness from the underlying methods and principles of these tricks.
Barry Fernelius’ Review of Destination Zero, The Magic Café, April 1, 2015:
(Overheard at a recent meeting of Cardicians Anonymous)
I'm Barry, and I'm a Cardaholic. (In unison, the assembled members say, "Hi, Barry.") It's been 12 minutes since I learned another card trick. (Murmuring is heard throughout the room.) I know you're wondering what's going on. I'll try to explain.
Let's face it; I'm pretty good at sleight-of-hand, but my skill set has serious gaps. And it's tough for me to justify the effort required to master some of the more difficult moves. After all, I don't make a living doing this stuff, and my day job makes tremendous demands on my time. The end result is predictable. I have a small repertoire of routines that require a moderate amount of technical prowess, and as long as I practice/rehearse these routines regularly, I can perform them and even make incremental improvements. But I still want to perform new stuff for my friends. I want these tricks to be great, but I don't have the time to perfect tricks that require extremely difficult sleights.
That's part of the reason that I found myself helpless to resist the material in John Bannon's new book of self-working card tricks, Destination Zero. And since I'm coming clean, I've been a Bannon admirer for a long time. He creates tricks that use sleight-of-hand in interesting ways. He also has the chops to do some interesting stuff, and he always is thinking, thinking, thinking about his magic and why he performs it. So, why is this book on self-working card magic so appealing?
Theatrical magic is based mostly on four types of deception: mechanical artifice, sleight-of-hand, psychology, and construction. Most of us focus on sleight-of-hand, use a little bit of mechanical artifice and psychology, and don't pay enough attention to construction. In Destination Zero, John Bannon has imposed an interesting constraint: create card tricks that rely almost entirely on psychology and construction. He has taken a fresh look at a number of strategies that almost all of us already use. He's thought about them deeply, and come up with ways to combine them in powerful ways. All magic tricks have discrepancies, but Bannon revels in them, and he's found ways to use them to his advantage. The end result is a collection of tricks with a very low Pain to Glory ratio. (Very little pain, but a disproportionately large amount of glory.)
For instance, in Petal to the Metal, Bannon takes the Matsuyama Petal Force and uses it to reinforce the fairness of a completely different 'choice' that the spectator is asked to make. The power of the resulting effect is astonishing. The only hard part is to keep yourself from laughing at the bald-faced lies that you're telling.
Another good example: Ban-nihlation, an effect in which you use two cards to predict a card that your participant will later choose. The Cross Cut Force is pressed into service in this case. (I can see some of you rolling your eyes, but stay with me.) Bannon's handling will make you smile, and I'll never use this force again without using the lovely touch that Liam Montier suggests. (If you want to know more, get the book.)
Bannon's AK47 trick sounds like a dream effect from a dealer's ad: "The participant thinks of, and commits to, any card. Really. Without asking any questions, the performer removes one card from the deck and places it on the table. He has correctly identified the freely thought-of card!" The method relies on a simple concept that you probably already know, but the cunning presentation is a thing of beauty. It shows what happens when you have multiple contingency plans, and each one of those has a back-up plan. Rehearsal is required, but it's worth it. The first time I performed this, I couldn't believe how well it worked.
Bannon also adds some lovely touches to some of his previous tricks. He revisits the ideas behind Dead Reckoning and Origami Poker and comes up with fresh approaches that are lean and mean. Heck, there's even a self-working sandwich effect!
He also includes a non-card effect, a bank night effect called Banco. I don't like most bank night effects, and I don't currently perform one. Banco changed my mind. Let's just say that after reading the method, I quietly went on eBay and bought the odd items that are required for this effect. I'm looking forward to the day when I can perform this one at a party for my friends.
In other words, even if you already know most of these principles that Bannon is describing, you shouldn't pass up this book. There's something for everyone, and these tricks are fun to perform. John Bannon has examined each of the effects ruthlessly, and he's stripped away all of the fat. Bannon understands that Effect is Everything; the method should be invisible. This is true both for self-working effects and tricks requiring knuckle-busting sleight-of-hand. (By the way, if you already have some moderate sleight-of-hand skills, you can add a few touches to these tricks that will make them seem even more impossible.)
Best of all, after reading this book, you might take a look at some other self-working effects and begin to see them in a different light. (Fans of Giobbi's Card College Light series and magicians familiar with the work of Stewart Judah know what I'm talking about.) You might be able to apply some of Bannon's ideas to other self-working effects that you already know. I don't know whether you'll reach your destination, but I can guarantee that you'll enjoy the journey.