Semi-Automatic Card Tricks VIII

Written and illustrated by Steve Beam

Hard bound with full colour dustjacket, 319 pages

Reviewed by Al Smith

Contributors include: Joe Anderson, Jerry Andrus, John Bannon, Stephen Bargatze, Keith Bennett, Gordon Bruce, Tom Craven, Tony Griffith, Lewis Jones, Marty Kane, Trevor Lewis, Max Maven, Dave Solomon, Roy Walton, Michael Weber, R. Paul Wilson, and more, including Steve Beam.

Volume [8]. Indeed.

Clocking up almost 2000 pages, the Semi-Automatic series, or collection, slots comfortably into the substantial and more besides category. Michael Genevie calls it The Tarbeam Course In Magic.

In previous issues of MagicWeek Iíve reviewed the Tony Griffith Reflections series. At various points I made the comment that, in following on from book one, books two, three and four are more of the same; which they are.

However I qualified this by adding that although the comment is reasonably accurate, itís hardly the truth and certainly not the whole picture. The same sentiment applies to the Semi-Automatic series. Each book is more of the same. And then some.

If anyone is getting a feeling of dťjŗ-vu here, Iím not surprised.

Continuing the theft of mine own utterances, I will unashamedly append the following to this commentary: all the Semi-Automatic books are better than good and this is precisely because each successive volume is more of the same.

As with all decent books, away from the nuts and bolts that are the tricks/routines, there are credits, comments, discussions, observations, and some very interesting patter themes. These dissertations, themes and rambles may not suit anyone who isnít Steve Beam, but they do provide a foundation to build on. I like them and as for the comments, discussions, observations and credits, well, theyíre food and drink hereabouts.

By the same token, of course, not every notion, trick and routine will likely appeal to everybody. How could it? How could they? So, bearing that in mind, I wonít point to anything that I think anyone/everyone should try. That said, I was tickled by the following oddments.

Two Card Monte, from Tom Ransom is an intriguing idea using two same-value cards, with different colour backs. Totally discrepant, it makes use of the pointer feature of cards, although itís not the Paul Harris Pointer thing thatís been flogged to death here and there.

John Bannon offers Daley Double, a neat and nifty approach to the ace transposition usually referred to as Daleyís Last Trick. Itís the presentation that gets the focus; the technical side of the handling is not described, so if you donít know the trick, look elsewhereóitís not hard to find.

The Cut Deeper Force crops up in and around page 205 and the credits are particularly interesting; to me anyway.

And then thereí wait a moment. Having said that I wonít point to anything that I think anyone/everyone should try, Iím beginning to do just that. So, well, get the book and try the lot. And there is a lot. Get the whole series. Or at least get it written on your Christmas stocking list.


Available direct (and currently only) from Steve Beam at Price $55 plus $28 shipping.


© Al Smith, September 2010