Review: Nine by Alex Le Fanu and Luca Volpe

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: John Teo”][vc_column_text]Alex Le Fanu is an Italian mentalist.  Unlike most magicians, he went straight into mentalism without first having performed the other genres of magic.  Perhaps, because of this reason, his ideas on mentalism are rather fresh, without being influenced by the other forms of magic.  He also does not like performing mentalism using gimmicks or props that look like magical apparatus.

This booklet contains his ideas on prop-less mentalism.  The book is soft-bound, measures 6 inches X 8 inches and is 73 pages thick.  Since Alex Le Fanu is not proficient in the English language, the book was written with collaboration with Luca Volpe, another famous Italian mentalist.  The book also has 2 contributions from Michael Murray.

There are a total of 9 effects in the book.  This is not the only reason the book is entitled NINE.  All, but 2, of the effects utilise the properties and peculiarities of the number 9.  However, the mathematical principles used are very cleverly hidden under 2 or more layers of deceptions in the structure of the effects.  

Here is a brief description of each of the 9 effects so that you can gauge for yourself if they are suitable for you.

  1. De-Code – the performer helps a spectator to create her pin number.  From this, he is able to divine the unlock code of the spectator’s smart-phone.
  2. PsychoMatrix – a spectator thinks of one of 9 common objects, then imagines a colour for this object, and decides on a material that this object is made of.  The performer can reveal all her 3 choices. A variation presentation is provided to reveal the star-sign of a living or dead person.
  3. PsychoStage – this is an effect that does not use the principle of the number 9.  The performer can discern the exact running order of 10 different items after they are being mixed up.  
  4. The Invisible Force – this is a misnomer.  It is not really a force.  4 or 5 people work together to come out with a large number.  The performer is able to determine one of the digits. This is inspired by a book on puzzles called “The Moscow Puzzles” by Boris A. Kordemsky.  
  5. En-Code – an application of “The Invisible Force” where 4 or 5 people become the mind reader and divine the unlock code of the performer’s own smart-phone.
  6. The Thought-of Card Of The Good Actor – a spectator assumes the role of a truth-teller or a liar and she thinks of a playing card.  The performer is able to reveal both the card and the character of the person. This is inspired by book on logical puzzles called “What Is The Name Of This Book?  The Riddle Of Dracula And Other Logical Puzzles” by Raymond Smullyan. It does not use the property of the number 9.
  7. The Gambler’s ACAAN – the performer carries out a mental exercise with a spectator and have her think of a playing card and a number in the deck.  This becomes a reality as the performer counts down to that card with a physical deck that was on the table before the experiment.  This is an interesting application of “The Thought-of Card Of The Good Actor”.
  8. iSwami (Michael Murray) – this is taken from Michael’s book “Calculated Risk Plus”.  The performer uses the calculator function in his iPhone to predict a number between 1 and 100 thought of by a spectator.    
  9. Total Recall (Michael Murray) – Michael discovers a quaint variation using the property of the number 9 and suggests different applications for this, including an effect that enables the performer to reveal a PIN code based on the serial number of a “borrowed” bill.

This is a book on number-based effects.  No special props are required for performing them.  At $43, the book does not come cheap. However, these are professional and powerful routines, and in many of them, full presentation scripts are also provided.  If you enjoy performing the magic of numbers, there will be routines that you can use in your repertoire.

Magic is our passion but we are not a magic shop ? You can purchase this here!

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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