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Cameron Roat
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By Forces Unseen: The Innovative Card Magic of Ernest Earick by Stephen Minch

Price: Out of Print
Format: Hard Cover
Author: Stephen Minch
Illustrator: Kelly Lyles
Publisher: Hermetic Press
Pages: 206 pp.
Published: 1993
Difficulty: Difficult

By Forces Unseen, written by Stephen Minch and published by Hermetic Press in 1993, is one of the finest collections of sleight-of-hand material with cards. It features the unique - and very difficult - magic of technical monster Ernest Earick. Throughout the book's 206 pages, you will find twenty Earick effects, and tons of innovative new card moves. You will also find variations of many popular moves, including a variation on the Marlo/Jennings Convincing Control/Immediate Bottom Placement, and Ed Marlo's Snap Change. Mr. Earick's variations of these moves are considered by many the very best variants of the classic sleights.

What really impresses me about most of the moves in this wonderful tome is their extreme versatility. Almost all of these moves, with enough practice, will become favorites of yours and can be used in many situations. Featured is Mr. Earick's One-Hand Bottom Palm, a variant he, in collaboration with Larry Jennings, devised after seeing the Professor perform Erdnase's Bottom Palm.

Mr. Earick’s Broadside Swivel Steal is another wonderful move, with which he impressed Dai Vernon and many others at the Magic Castle one night in 1986. It is not easy, but is a wonderful card control. With enough practice, it becomes very practical and convenient.

The book begins with a six-page "Apologia" from Mr. Earick himself. The rest of the book is divided into two parts. The first, “Tight Tricks and a Loose Sleight”, is a collection of more traditional card effects and sleights. The second part, “See Them Shuffling Along”, contains effects utilizing riffle shuffle technique.

The first routine described, and quite possibly my favorite in the text, is Claptrap. Claptrap is a wonderful, surprising routine, which involves three selections being found in exceptionally creative ways. The performer sets the pack on the table, claps his hands, and the first selection “jumps” out of the pack and lands on the table, face-up. He claps his hands again, and the second selection pops, face-up, out of the pack. The performer then proceeds to pluck the third selection out of mid-air! This wonderful effect is the perfect example of Mr. Earick's creativity and thorough thought process.

Another brilliant item is the knuckle-busting Jack Syna(ps)ces. The performer tosses the four Aces to the table, and then openly reverses the Jacks, which are scattered throughout the pack. The performer then picks up the Aces, and with a slap, they visually change to the Jacks. The pack is spread and the four Aces are seen to be dispersed throughout the pack, face-up. While this is, by no means, easy to accomplish, the extremely visual aspect of it and the utterly impossible circumstances under which this miracle occurs makes all the practice worth it.

Mr. Earick’s magic is terrific, to say the least, but a few other things attracted me to the book, as well. First, Stephen Minch is an absolutely superb writer, and his attention to the most infinitesimal details is exactly what is needed when describing sleight-of-hand. Second, Kelly Lyles’ illustrations are magnificent and show everything that even the most articulate writer could not describe. Third, the crediting in this book is outstanding. Every move and inspiration is credited; down to the page number and year the particular book was published.

Overall, this is definitely one of my most beloved books on magic. The difficulty of most of the material keeps it exciting, and after conquering a move or routine, you really feel that all your time spent practicing was worth it.

The book is hard to come by nowadays, but copies can be found on eBay once in a while. I’ve seen two copies go in the last week or so, for between $70 and $100.

Claptrap can be viewed here (Denis Behr).
House Guest can be viewed here (Oz Pearlman).
Darrin Cook
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Thanks for sharing the review. The material sounds very interesting.
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I bought this book last week from magicbooksbypost they still have copies in stock!! The effects are very challenging, and it has quickly become my favourite bedtime read. I especially love the alone in the crowd and flippant triumph routines, very visual and astonishing magic.

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