Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Physics and Psychology in the service of deception
by Jim Ottaviani and Janine Johnston
G.T Labs, 2007, 71 pages

Jim Ottaviani writes graphic novels about scientific topics, including the creation of the first nuclear bomb, and a biography of Neils Bohr. In this, one of his shorter efforts, he stretches to make the connection to science, insisting in his subtitle that this is about physics and psychology. It is, instead, a history of the development of the levitaiton magic trick, as it was refined by John Neville Maskelyne (1839-1917) and Harry Kellar (1849-1922).

So this is chance to not only see how one of the most intriguing magic tricks is done, but to how it was developed. If you have any interest in magic acts or an interest in clever engineering you will find this as fascinating as I did.

I should note that there is one language concern: there are three occurrences of the word "damn." The only other caution I could add is that the magicians used mystic patter in the set-up for their tricks, calling on the spirits for help, or talking about how they learned this secret from a pagan priest in far off lands. This is a minor element, and hardly a persuasive presentation of paganism, but might be a reason not to give this to the very young.

But then this is quite clearly intended for teens and adults, as it is a fairly reading-intense "comic." Overall, just a fun, intriguing read, and I look forward to reading more of Jim Ottaviani's material.

You can pick up Levitation at Amazon.com here and Amazon.ca here.

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