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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Mentally Speaking » » Ne Plus Ultra by Harvey Berg (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Mind Guerrilla
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Inner circle
Queens, NY
2667 Posts

Profile of Mind Guerrilla

The effect: Spectator gets a free choice of three classic titles (by Austen, Wharton, and Flaubert) and can turn to any page. S/he is directed to silently read a paragraph and to try to imagine the scene/action described. If s/he doesn't like that particular scene, s/he can instead use a paragraph on the facing page or even flip forward or back a page. With a minimum amount of questioning, the performer is then able to describe a fairly detailed scene which uncannily matches the contents of the paragraph the spectator read.

This is unquestionably a strong effect. I only wish more work had gone into the props. The books are three pocket-sized paperbacks. The purpose of having three books, I presume, is to allow those performers who do not own other book tests to give their spectators a free selection. The three books are reasonably examinable- each to a different degree. How examinable any given Ne Plus Ultra book is may depend on how well acquainted the spec is with the author. The Jane Austen title is very well known. In fact, Ms. Austen has developed something of a cult following as of late. So, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that your spec may notice that, while the book does contain the text of the novel, one of the main character's names has been altered. I assume this was done so as not to make that name stick out if seen in either of the other two books. Examinability may also depend on where you perform, as was pointed out in this post:

There are quality control issues with the books too. Mine have some pages stuck together where the left-hand page and the right-hand page meet. This makes the first letter (or couple of letters) on each line of that right-hand page unreadable. I'm not the only one who's noticed this:

"Ne plus ultra" means "the perfect or most extreme example of its kind; the ultimate." It's frustrating that Ne Plus Ultra had the potential of living up to its name but fell short.

I have friends who successfully perform Ne Plus Ultra and who have no qualms in using all three titles. I'm a lot more anal, though. I'm only comfortable using the Jane Austen book. When used in conjunction with Chris Philpott's "Tossed Out Book Test," it has the potential for being a powerful climax. If the Austen book had been the only title the effect featured (and if one of the main character's names had not been altered) or, even better, if the text of the other two titles had gotten the same treatment as the Austen book, I would rate this effect very highly. Taken as-is and as a whole, however, I rate Ne Plus Ultra 7.5 out of 10.

$195 at

Verdict: Recommended but with the above caveats
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Elite user
Chicago, IL
491 Posts

Profile of TonyBrand
Thanks for the thorough review and your honest opinion as I plan to purchase this soon. The quality-control issues have me a little disappointed, but I can look past this given the very positive reviews the book test has received over the years. Full disclosure: I'm a BT junkie.


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Inner circle
Essex UK
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Profile of Mark_Chandaue
I may just be lucky but my books are all perfect. I do use this as a climax to the tobt and it really does get great reactions. This is one of my favourite book tests and I have around 16 different book tests.

Mark Chandaue A.I.M.C.
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2795 Posts

Profile of NeilS
I echo what Mark said. Absolutely no problem with the quality and, having seen a lot of book tests, this has to be my favourite and the one I tend to use. The beauty is that it allows a completely free choice of book and page and, rather than a one word reveal, you reveal the gist of several sentences. I have often closed with Ne Plus Ultra because it is hard to top.
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702 Posts

Profile of jstreiff
Same for me relative to the quality of the books.
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Scranton, Pa.
59 Posts

Profile of mellanp
My books are perfect, too! I know I am late to the game here, but this book test is one of my favorites. No one has ever questioned the types of novels they are. It is a direct, hit them between they eyes effect. Participants having a free choice of a page makes this super good. Plus, it is easy to do! Does anyone lelse have this book?
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413 Posts

Profile of Illusion77
Very interesting book test, but I found the font size in the books to be a bit small, in my opinion, for easy reading by those participating.
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Profile of Chaz93
Is this still on the market? I had a chance to get a set years ago but didn't take the opportunity and I've been wanting to get a set but not sure if it's still available.
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