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Is Inconceivable by Luke Jonas rare, out of print, or difficult to find? Yes, looks like Mex better do a review of it then (I will get back to reviewing easy to find magic soon, I promise). And with a title that brings to mind one of my favorite movies (The Princess Bride, if you are incredibly uncultured), you’re damn right I’m going to review Inconceivable!
So what is it?
Inconceivable is a self-published book by Luke Jonas sold (I believe) exclusively through Alakazam Magic here in the UK. It’s billed as a mentalism book, but I don’t think non-mentalists would have any difficulty adding anything here into what they are already doing.
What’s in Inconceivable?
The forward is by the legend Peter Turner, a name anybody with even a passing interest in mentalism should know very well.
The introduction talks about con-men rather than magic kits being Lukes start in magic. Although I am one of the many who started out with a kids magic set, a fascination with confidence tricks certainly kept my interest in magic going more than a few times, so I can relate very well to this backstory.
The Importance of Storytelling
The book proper starts with a discussion of storytelling to enhance an effect and a scripting example. Interesting to note the ‘improved’ version of the script has a pretty major problem with its internal logic, but as it’s more a demonstration than an actual effect you’d use, it doesn’t really matter.
The Newspaper Opener
A nice reveal to a common force (that has been used on Pen & Teller: Fool Us, but predates that by quite a margin). Most magicians and many lay-folk will be familiar with it, but the kicker does salvage it. People who know the force will be able to reconstruct the whole thing with a little thought, but as many won’t it still may make a useful addition to some performers set list.
Next is a discussion and whether playing cards fit with mentalism or not. Luke sums it up perfectly when he says:
Playing cards are nothing more than another prop for the performer to utilise and as with almost all mentalism; your routines should be structured more around the participants and the connection which you have with an audience as a whole, not the prop which you are utilising.Inconceivable, page 31
One of the mainstays of mentalism is billet work, and when you think about it, a playing card is nothing but a highly specialised billet. And lets not forget the greats of mentalism like Max Maven, Derren Brown, and Theodore Annemann himself have all published work on playing cards.
It’s interesting Luke also says:
It’s common knowledge that playing cards have been reducing in popularity over the years…Inconceivable, page 31
Although this is undeniably true, I really don’t think it as severe as many would claim. I remember decades ago when I was first getting started in magic, I was worried that very few people my age who weren’t also magicians, were familiar with cards. Something I hear often from young people starting out in magic now. However, I now find that the vast majority of people my age are quite familiar and have picked up this knowledge seemingly via osmosis over the years, I have no reason to think the same won’t happen to the current teenagers as they continue through their lives.
True Loves Test
Nice presentation idea for another very common basic force. Although it would work fine on a lot of people, I think the force is too well known to use as is. Thinking about it, if you REALLY wanted to do this effect, using it as an introduction to (and one of the cards for) an Anniversary Waltz type effect may rescue it enough to make it useable.
A sizeable amount of the book is given up to this switch, and rightly so as it’s probably the best idea in the book. I’m not a fan of the justification Luke gives for its use, but I have no doubt something else can be thought of with a little effort if you want to use it. It is a useful utility.
The Lucky Penny Deck Switch
Not a switch at all but a proof the deck hasn’t been switched, I’m sure it works great, but if you do a switch well, you shouldn’t really need to over-prove.
The Spectator chooses a freely selected card at random and shuffles it back into the deck. Upon returning the deck, the performer suggests a game of chance. He allows the spectator to attempt to cut to their card, which they fail to do. The performer then tries to do the same and also fails. The performer then spreads the deck, and it suddenly becomes apparent why both have failed; the card has vanished from the deck. The performer attempts to remedy the situation by placing the deck face down and allowing the spectator to cut once more. Amazingly, they cut to their card.
The explanation references a fig. 1 that isn’t there, but fortunately it’s a fairly common move that most magicians will need no assistance with. The “freely selected card” is actually a force, and the last part relies on a method that isn’t 100% spectator proof. It should be fine most of the time though.
The spectator selects a card, which leads to a letter, which leads to an animal – strong hints of the grey danish elephant here, but distant enough not to be noticed by the vast majority of audiences. However, a miss is likely to tip the method, so choose your participant well if you want to do this one
A coin heads or tails divination followed by a date divination – there is an optional kicker of a pre-written prediction naming all the info, but I’d just run it two or maybe three times and predict only the heads/tails outcome myself. the prep is the hardest part of this effect, not that the prep is overly hard, nice little effect though.
A (secretly) two person telepathy effect to be performed socially. There are quite a few effects like this that rely on a secret confederate, most can quickly be discovered though The nice thing about this routine is, although it needs potentially several more signals sent than with other versions. The way this is structured and scripted, it moves people away from the actual method rather than towards it. Very quick to learn too if you want to set it up with a friend when we are eventually allowed to socialise again.
Virtual Cards Across
A bonus effect where the performer remotely moves a card from one recently counted pile of cards to another – I’ve not tried this (and don’t intend to), but I would expect this to have a very high fail rate, so be ready to play it as a joke if you do perform it and the participant sees through the method. I remember a variation of the method being quite popular in school playgrounds when I was growing up.
It’s interesting to note that directly after this effect is the following quote:
Audiences are far from being as dumb as some performers seem to think.Theodore Annemann
It’s a quote I’m fond of at the best of times, but it’s placement here seems almost comedic.
Although technically flawed, a few typos, formatting errors, and the missing diagram mentioned above, it’s a nice-looking book. I think the material in it is best suited to an advanced beginner or lower intermediate performer, that’s not to say others couldn’t make use of it. If you can track down one of the original 150, I’d recommend picking it up. I think Luke is going to become a very well-known name, and his rare early stuff may be worth quite a penny at some point. There isn’t anything in Inconceivable I can see myself doing, not because I hate the material, I’ve pointed out a few problems, but I really don’t think anything here is terrible, it’s just either not for me, or I’m already doing something similar with a different method.