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Thinking The Impossible Review

Official Review

September 28th, 2012 9:14pm
Reviewed by James Sanden
Thinking the Impossible is a book on card magic by Ramon Rioboo, a member of the Spanish school who has had the opportunity to study with, among others, the Maestro, Juan Tamariz. The book is a collection of (to use Steve Beam’s term) semi-automatic card tricks, which is to say there are both “self-working” effects, as well as those needing sleight of hand, though the sleight of hand needed isn’t knuckle busting. If you’re put off by the category “self-working” (or even semi-automatic), you’re doing yourself a disservice in dismissing this book. Had I not received it to review, I probably would not have bought it myself, and I would have missed out on a tremendous resource.

Thinking the Impossible is filled with amazing, mind blowing effects, many of which, it should be noted, aren’t card locations. There are sandwich effects, 4 ace productions, matching effects and even a card to impossible location. Further, many of these plots include the element of surprise, something missing in many “self-working” effects. From a method construction point of view, the emphasis is on the subtle, rather than the difficult. This isn’t to say performing these effects will be easy. Audience management, acting ability, rehearsal and serious thought will be required to fully take advantage of the power of this material.

This leads to where much of the value of this book lies. Mr. Rioboo shows how powerful simple methods can be when they are well designed and combined with an intentional presentation. He explains how scripting and attitude can clarify and amplify an effect beyond what most magicians (including myself) think possible. He goes on to discuss how presentation itself can be part of the method. Many of the effects in this book will leave the spectator not wondering “How did you do that?” but believing that the performer didn’t do anything at all, yet magic occurred. This is an extraordinarily difficult goal to achieve, and many of the effects taught will do just that.

Certainly there are a few entries that have more counting or dealing than I like to see in a card effect, but even in those instances Mr. Rioboo demonstrates how to effectively increase magical impact while downplaying a strange procedure. These lessons can be applied to many other effects, including those, I would argue, in any reader’s repertoire.

Sections of the book include an introduction to some of the basic sleights and tools Mr. Rioboo uses in his work, sections on impromptu effects both requiring and not requiring sleights, two chapters using gimmicked cards of one type or another and some of his work on the memorized deck. His version of Simon Aronson’s “Shufflebored” (created independently) and his basic method of controlling a card (which will devastate even a well posted magician) are both worth the price of admission.

Thinking the Impossible is an outstanding work filled with astonishing magic. While there are some sections on theory that felt incomplete or not fully developed, the book as a whole contains not only magic for virtually any magician, but thought provoking ideas and approaches that can’t help but make your magic more powerful, engaging and effective. It’s an extremely valuable addition to the literature.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Thinking The Impossible

Author: Rioboo, Ramon
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $40.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Ramón Riobóo holds a doctorate in deception. He is the 1992 recipient of the Ascanio Award and winner of the 1993 First Prize in Card Magic from the XIX National Magic Congress in Barcelona. He will yank the mental carpet from under you without your seeing him reach for it. It is only as your sense of reality falls away that you begin to understand you have been the target of a cunning structure designed to baffle the most analytical mind.

Cards are chosen and lost without the magician touching the deck—yet he finds them.

Cabalistic rituals reveal cards freely thought of, without a question being asked.

Signed cards become magically stapled to a Joker...

Or become cards isolated before the signing or even the selection was made.

And during all this and much more, principles and tools are taught that enable you to build amplified levels of deception into your magic. Some of these principles seem impossible, even as you are performing them. In Thinking the Impossible, Ramón Riobóo reveals with clarity and detail many of his prize secrets—secrets with which he fools both the public and his peers in magic.

When Riobóo takes a worn deck from his pocket and gives it a somewhat ham-handed mix, looking all the while a bit distracted, prepare to have everything you know about how things in the universe work shuffled into impossible conclusions.

Ramón Riobóo is a retired television director and close friend of Spain's premier magician, Juan Tamariz. From his profession he learned about drama, concision, entertainment and focus of attention. From his friendship with Tamariz he learned how to be disarming and ruthlessly cunning. When you think you have him figured out, that is when you are the most vulnerable to his magic. No one leads people down the garden path more skillfully than Ramón Riobóo.

Riobóo's specialty is the artful use of mathematical principles and psychological subtleties, concealed and designed to produce experiences that defy understanding. And when you least expect it, he may throw in a judicious touch of sleight-of-hand or a prepared card. The combination produces slack-jawed wonder and a sense of delight.

Among English-reading magicians, Riobóo's work has been gaining increasing recognition from its exposure in Steve Beam's Semi-automatic Card Tricks series. In Thinking the Impossible, he delivers everything his reputation promises: thirty-nine tricks and routines steeped in cunning and cleverness, with three lumps of psychological persuasion stirred in to make a heady brew of genuinely amazing card magic.

The White Queen once told Alice, “Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” When Ramón Riobóo is done with you, you will regularly exceed her record.

A 303-page hardcover book with dustwrapper.

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