Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“Disillusion” by Edward Bryant
Card picked: Four of Hearts
From: David Copperfield’s Beyond Imagination
Review: Jack, an investigative reporter, and Ingrid, a fellow journalist and Jack’s lover, are assigned an exposé: the death of magic. Jack throws himself into his work, secretly filming the Great Mandragore’s act and carefully figuring out how each trick is done. Unfortunately, Ingrid is not cut out for this sort of story. Knowing the secrets behind the tricks sends her into a depression and ruins her relationship with Jack. Of course, the assignment isn’t what is seems and Jack’s boss at Real World magazine has ulterior motives.
After about three pages of this story, I had reservations. Characters weren’t acting in ways that people act. I feared this was a flaw in the writing, but in fact, it was a feature. Bryant has a very good reason for Jack and Ingrid being the way they are which isn’t evident until the last act of the story. I do wish there had been a little more background. After Eric Lustbader last week, who gives almost too much story, this tale seemed rushed.
This story deals with an issue I’ve come up against time and time again when reading about magic. Reveals and exposés, do they “kill” magic? For many people, knowing the secret behind a magic trick ruins the illusion for them. This is most of the reason why the “magicians never tell their secrets” rule exists.* This story was written in 1995-ish, before Fox’s Breaking the Magician’s Code series and the ease of rewatching clips of tricks on YouTube, and posited that revealing a magician’s secrets would pretty much ruin him and many people’s sense of wonder. Personally, I’m never disappointed to know the trick of the trick. To some extent, I appreciate magic more after knowing how much work and ingenuity goes into it. And despite reading yet another post on the decline of magic earlier this week, I don’t think audiences are so jaded that they aren’t at least sometimes still amazed.
* Regarding professional secrets, there is an interesting layered aspect to intellectual property rights within the magic community. At the bottom are tricks anyone can buy at a party store; at the top are things like Mr. Copperfield disappearing national monuments.
About the Author: Though fairly prolific, I haven’t read too much of Edward Bryant’s works. I’m mainly familiar with him in relation to Harlan Ellison, with whom Bryant has collaborated.
Is This Your Card?
After finally getting a more magic-driven story and one heavy on a magic “issue,” I’m sad that I don’t have a card trick for the Four of Hearts! Instead, I’m going to leave you with perhaps my favorite trick ever. This is Teller’s take on the classic Miser’s Dream. I suppose it should be titled The Miser’s Dream of Gold(fish).