

MBAgamer Regular user 109 Posts 
“Truth Fables” is Ben Blau’s second major book publication after his first book publication “Asymptotes.”
The book is $100 USD and about 500 pages long (so it’s a very big book). You can find it here (among other places): https://www.penguinmagic.com/p/11604 The book contains 16 routines. All but 3 of them involve playing cards. Below I will be reviewing each routine individually. However, I'll only be reviewing the 13 routines that involve playing cards (as I haven’t studied the 3 routines that don’t involve playing cards). So this will be an almostcomplete review of the book (though not quite complete). I will be providing an effect description for each effect prior to my reviewing each effect — but note that my effect descriptions won’t be entirely encompassing. I’m not going to provide each and every single detail in the procedure. Yes, I will omit details when necessary. Yes, that's perhaps not fair. But I’m not here to provide a stepbystep breakdown of the performances so that the reader can backtrack the methods based on just reading the effect descriptions. I’m not here to expose methods. My effect descriptions will just be there to give the reader a general idea about what each effect looks like, and mostly to give the reader an idea about what the spectator remembers (which is the most important part). Also note that *some* effects have performance videos from Ben’s YouTube channel. So I will attach those below as well. With that said, let us proceed with the review. 1. Triadox This is a coincidence effect in which three pairs of mates are removed from the deck (the spectator chooses the pairs). The performer then takes one card from each pair and tells the spectator that he will position those three cards in the deck at random points. After that, the spectator is guided through a dealing procedure where, along the way, they stop at various points of their choosing and use the three cards (the three that remain on the table) to mark the points at which they stopped. At the end it is revealed that they successfully located the three mates (that the performer placed in the deck at the beginning) of the three marker cards — these mates coincidentally turn out to be right next to where the spectator placed the three marker cards (during the dealing procedure). This effect is completely impromptu and can even be done with a borrowed deck of playing cards. There is no setup beforehand. However, there is simply far too much dealing. The spectator has to do a lot of dealing and after that there is a good amount of dealing the performer has to do as well. The entire deck is almost dealt through two different times. It’s an okay effect for its type of effect. But it isn’t one that I’ll be performing. It isn’t bad though. I’d say it’s ‘average’. Rate: 5/10 2. Eutychasm This is a prediction + coincidence effect. The performer places three predictions on the table at the beginning, one of which he says is written down on the back of a joker, the second of which he says is written on a business card, and the third of which he says is a playing card (these are all placed on the table prediction side down). The performer also takes three random marker cards from the deck. After that, the spectator is guided through a dealing procedure where, along the way, they stop at various points of their choosing and use the three marker cards to mark the points at which they stopped. At the end it is revealed that the three cards that ended up being next to the three marker cards are coincidentally three very good cards for poker: JH, QS and KS (missing just two cards for what would create a straight: a 10 and an A). At this point the performer reveals one of his predictions (the joker) which relates to a position in the deck and at that position is found one of the two missing cards for a straight (a 10): 10S. Finally the performer reveals another of his predictions (the playing card) which is revealed to be the other missing card for a straight (an A): AS. So, at this point, the spectator has created a straight (using the three cards that they stopped at + two of the performer’s predictions): 10S, JH, QS, KS and AS. Finally the performer reveals his third and last prediction (the business card) which says “Sorry about the JH. Check my pocket.” And in his pocket is found the JS, which turns the straight to a straight flush (and not just any straight flush, but a royal flush, and not just any royal flush, but a royal flush of spades). The effect isn’t completely impromptu but the setup (in the deck) is very easy and would just take a minute or two to achieve. In addition to the setup involving the cards, you have to prepare a written prediction on a joker and a written prediction on a business card. That’s pretty much it. The premise is good but, like the first effect above (“Triadox”), there is far too much dealing and procedure. Again, it isn’t a bad effect and is okay for the type of effect it is. But, like with the first effect above, perhaps people (such as myself) are put off by the amount of dealing and procedure that is involved. Rate: 5/10 3. Future Reference This is, in essence, an effect where the spectator makes a selection which is then lost into the deck — and, at the end, the performer divines the name of the selected card and also divines exactly where the card is located in the deck. The full performance can be found on Ben’s YouTube channel. Here’s the performance video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qv1KbYJL8......ZQ%3D%3D This is totally impromptu and can be done with a borrowed deck of cards. However, I’m personally not a fan of it. It is too “hands on” for the type of effect it is. For this type of effect (where the performer divines the location of the spectator’s selected card in the deck) it is, I think, very important to be as hand off as possible — which this effect isn’t. Much better alternatives for this type of effect (where the performer divines the location of the spectator’s selected card in the deck) are “The End” by Rick Lax and “Horsefeathers” by Patrick Redford (the latter of which is my favorite for this type of effect). Furthermore, there is another effect in this very book (reviewed below) that also falls under this category of effect. That, too, is a much better alternative. Rate: 4/10 4. Castaway Cards This is a card divination / location type effect in which the spectator makes a free selection of any card from a shuffled deck (they could think of one if they want rather than physically selecting it). This card is removed from the deck by the spectator. The performer explains to the spectator the concept of mates, and he tells them that since their card is not in the deck, he will try to find the mate of it (which is in the deck). The performer then goes through the deck (without clocking it) and starts to eliminate the cards in groups. As he’s doing that, he asks the spectator some questions about their card and they could either answer truthfully or by lying. The performer, through his lie detection skills, keeps eliminating cards in groups until he’s finally down to one card, which is revealed to be the very mate of the selected card. This is totally impromptu and can be done with a borrowed deck of cards. I am not a fan of it, however. And that is simply because many spectators might just assume that the performer is somehow able to quickly determine what the missing card in the deck is (even if they themselves can’t do that, at least not quickly) — and so won’t be sold by the whole lie detecting stuff. Some spectators may not think this but I suspect a decent amount will. Rate: 4/10 5. Aphelion This is an OOTW effect in which the performer begins by fairly (and genuinely) shuffling the deck. After the shuffling, the performer starts to deal cards in pairs face up, showing the spectator how each pair is random: how some pairs consist of two red cards, how other pairs consist of two black cards and how other pairs consist of both a red and a black card. After showing the spectator this randomness, the performer starts to deal cards in pairs face down. For each pair, the spectator chooses one card (their choice) to flip face up and they have to guess the color of the other card (keeping it face down). At the end it is revealed that all their guesses (the face down cards) were correct. This isn’t impromptu and requires a good amount of setup. But the deck is totally regular and is even fully examinable at the end (after the setup is destroyed). I somewhat like this effect. It’s an interesting solution to the OOTW plot. It’s also a nice touch that the performer (legitimately) shuffles the deck at the start. The only thing that I don’t like about it is that the spectator doesn’t guess the color of too many cards. Their guesses only make up about a quarter of the deck. About half of the deck is dealt through in pairs while the spectator makes their guesses, and for each pair (as mentioned above) they only guess the color of one card. So their guesses only make up about a quarter of the deck. With some thinking one could extend the initial setup and hence extend the amount of cards the spectator guesses. But, even then, the guesses won’t be too many. That being said, it is a pretty good approach and method to the OOTW plot. Definitely above average. Rate: 6/10 6. Philter This is a card divination / location type effect. It is a little long and complicated to fully explain (and there’s a full performance video of it on Ben’s YouTube channel which I’ll attach in a moment), but here’s a brief description: two groups of 10 cards are selected (one by each spectator, so this effect uses two spectators). These two groups are then shuffled together and separated several times by both the performer and the two spectators. At the end of the shuffling procedure, one spectator ends up with 10 cards in front of them and the other spectator ends up with the other 10 cards in front of them. Both spectators think of a card from their group. They then remove their thought of cards from their respective groups and exchange the cards (so one spectator’s thought of card ends up in the other spectator’s group and vice versa). Each spectator then shuffles their group. At this point the performer locates one of the cards from one group while he merely divines the identity of the other card from the other group (without even touching it). Here’s the full performance video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N9IB9ReX_2......dQ%3D%3D There are two versions of this effect provided in the book. The one that I attached the video to above is the impromptu version that can be done with a borrowed deck of cards. There is also a version explained that uses a setup deck. I don’t like this effect. The shuffling procedure (prior to the two selections), as is evident in the video above, is far, far too long. The two groups of 10 cards are mixed together and separated and mixed together and separated too many times — and there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of justification (at least no good justification) for all that heavy procedure. After all that heavy procedure the effect is decent (from the moment the two selections are made and what follows thereafter). But the effect is, in my opinion, greatly marred by all that heavy procedure prior to the two selections. Rate: 3/10 7. Negative Space This is an ACAAN type effect (strictly speaking, it is more of a selected card at any number type effect). The performer begins by fairly (and genuinely) shuffling the deck several times. The spectator then freely selects a card face down. The performer explains to them that he will sign the face of their selected card with their name. So he asks them for the spelling of their name and proceeds to sign their card. The spectator then loses their card into the deck *anywhere* they want, after which the deck is genuinely shuffled by the performer several times. At this point the spectator is asked to name any number from 152. Using this number they create another number (which genuinely could’ve ended up being any number depending on what their original number was: so this isn’t a force). And when they count down to this second number, their signed card is found there. This effect isn’t impromptu but the setup takes a few seconds at most. There is an impromptu version briefly explained in the book — but it’s not exactly like the version I described above (though it’s similar). I like this effect. I think it’s very clean and if presented well will genuinely fry the spectator. After the spectator returns their selected (and signed) card into the deck anywhere they want, there aren’t any sleights performed. And nothing funny is done. Also, the performer never looks at the faces of the cards after the spectator returns their selected (and signed) card into the deck (he gives them a few fair shuffles while keeping them face down). Furthermore, the original number is only named by the spectator (and the second number generated from that) AFTER the spectator returns their selected (and signed) card into the deck and after the performer gives the deck a few shuffles. The deck is also fully examinable at the end (if the spectator wants to examine it). There’s a lot of good stuff here. Rate: 7/10 8. Sunwise This is a brainwave type effect in which a blue deck of cards is introduced and held face up. The performer explains to the spectator that he has a favorite card in the deck (which he will keep a mystery for now). The spectator is asked to name any number from 152. Using this number they create another number (which genuinely could’ve ended up being any number depending on what their original number was: so this isn’t a force). While the deck is held face up, this second number is counted down to by the spectator, and the face up card that is found there (at the number), the performer claims that was his favorite card all along (the one he was talking about earlier). Of course the spectator doesn’t believe him. The performer then asks them to turn it over and it is revealed to be a redbacked card, and after that they can turn over all of the other cards and they are revealed to be bluebacked cards. You just need a deck of one color and a single card (from a deck of another color) to perform this routine. So the setup takes a few seconds. As will be evident to the reader, this effect involves the same core method from the effect above (“Negative Space”). So I like this effect too. I think if performed well it will fry the spectator (I’ve already fried some people with it). And the nice thing about it is that the deck is fully examinable at the end (as there is just a single redbacked card in the bluebacked deck — and that single redbacked card is, of course, entirely examinable too). Rate: 7/10 9. The 12th of Never This is a divination effect. In this effect, a deck of cards is fairly (and genuinely) shuffled by the performer. After the shuffles, one of three spectators (so this effect uses three spectators) is asked to deal 10 cards from the top of the shuffled deck face down onto the table. The performer then turns his back and asks that spectator to thoroughly shuffle the 10 cards, after which they are asked to divide up the shuffled group of 10 cards between themself and the other two spectators (this can be done randomly: they choose what cards and how many cards to give to each spectator, as long as each spectator gets some). Once each of the three spectators has some cards in front of them, the performer (while still turned away) asks each of them to multiply the values of their cards together. So each spectator does that with their cards (using a borrowed calculator) — and so each spectator ends up with a secret number in mind. After this, all three spectators are asked to place their cards into the card box. The performer now turns around (for the first time), and tells each one that he’ll try to get a read on them. He then writes something on a piece of paper and places it on the table face down. At this point each spectator is asked to name their secret number and they are all asked to multiply their three numbers together (on the same borrowed calculator). The final answer is read out loud. The spectators then turn over what the performer wrote down and it is seen to be the same number. And from that the meaning is clear to the three spectators: that the performer must’ve somehow (through determining their thoughts) known their secret numbers — before they even named them — so that he could then multiply them together (in his head!) and write down the answer ahead of time. This isn’t impromptu and requires a setup. But the deck is regular. I like this effect as well. It feels very fair from the spectators’ point of view. The performer (genuinely) shuffles and cuts the deck in front of them, after which they take 10 cards from the top of the shuffled deck. And (while the performer is turned away) they freely shuffle those 10 cards and split them amongst themselves however they want, choosing what cards and how many cards each gets. There’s just so much freedom involved. The spectators would without a doubt — due to the aforementioned free choices — be left with the impression that the three secret numbers (that each one generated using their cards) were random and couldn’t have been known to the performer beforehand. So the fact that the performer is then able to write down the product of the three secret numbers ahead of time (before the spectators even name the three numbers and multiply them together) is really mystifying to say the least. Also, after the performer places the paper face down on the table, he never touches it again: the spectators themselves turn it over at the end. Rate: 7/10 10. Denim This is a card location effect. The spectator begins by shuffling the deck of cards, after which they freely cut to one (as the performer is turned away). They then lose the selected card back into the deck. The performer then turns back around and takes the deck from them and gives it a few shuffles. At that point the performer looks through the faces of the cards (the first time he is looking at the faces) and starts eliminating cards in groups slowly as he asks the spectator to concentrate on bits and pieces of their card (in their head only). Eventually the performer is down to one card, which is revealed to be the chosen card. Here is a full performance video of the effect from Ben’s YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NIpXPwkcc5......JsYXU%3D This is completely impromptu and can be done with a borrowed deck of cards. The effect is okay. It’s just a card location at the end of the day (mixed in with a mentalism presentation), as you can see in the performance above. It isn’t bad but I don’t think it’s particularly great either. I probably won’t be performing it as there’s so many other card locations out there already (many of which that are superior to this one). Rate: 5/10 11. I Dealt a Sigma This is an effect that is similar to “Future Reference” from above (though, in my opinion, it’s far superior). So in this effect, like in “Future Reference,” the performer divines the name of the selected card and also divines exactly where the card is located in the deck. Here is what happens: the spectator begins by shuffling the cards thoroughly. After this, the performer takes the shuffled deck and begins dealing cards face down one by one and asks them to call stop anywhere they want. Wherever they call stop (a free choice), the performer tilts his head away and asks them to lift up and peek the top card of the remaining cards in his hands (the one they stopped at). After this, the selected card is lost somewhere into the middle of the dealt cards, after which the spectator shuffles the dealt cards thoroughly in order to further lose the selected card. The spectator then places the dealt cards into the middle of the remaining cards, after which the performer gives the entire deck some fair (and genuine) shuffles. At this point, the performer places the deck on the table and doesn’t need to touch it again. With that done, the spectator is given two chances to try and find their selected card by naming two different numbers (free choices). Both times they deal down (face down) to their named number and fail to find the selected card at the number. After these failures — demonstrating to the spectator just how difficult of a task it is to determine the exact location of a selected card in a shuffled deck — the performer proceeds to name a number himself. The spectator counts down to that number face down, and before they turn the card (at the number) over, the performer divines the name of the spectator’s selected card. After that, they turn the card (at the number) over and it is seen to be the selected card. This is totally impromptu and can even be done with a borrowed deck of cards. I like this. As I explained above, I didn’t like “Future Reference” (which is similar in effect) but I like this one. As I also explained above, the reason I didn’t like “Future Reference” was because it was too hands on (which I think is a flaw in this type of card effect). This, however, isn’t as hands on. In fact, in this effect, after the spectator loses their selected card into the dealt pile (and then loses that dealt pile into the remaining cards), the performer just gives the deck a few genuine shuffles (while not looking at the faces of any of the cards). After that he never needs to touch the deck again. At the end it should, under these conditions, be very mystifying as to how the performer was able to know both the identity of the selected card and its exact location in the shuffled deck. Rate: 7/10 12. Anachrosis This is an ACAAN type effect (strictly speaking, it is more of a predicted card at a randomly generated number type effect). The effect would take far too much space to describe in any significant detail here so I will just leave it at this: the performer introduces an envelope which he says contains a prediction of his (a playing card from another deck). This is given to the spectator to hold until the end. Then, using a deck, the spectator goes through a very longwinded process in order to randomly generate a number. And then they count down to that number and take the card (at the number). Finally they check the predicted card in the envelope and it is seen to be the same card. The performer was able to predict the card at the spectator’s randomly generated number. There are several versions provided, some of which are impromptu and some of which aren’t. I don’t like any of them. The procedure to generate the number is far too involved. It feels way too “procedural.” Yes, the effect that the performer is trying to create here is that the spectator “randomly generates a number” (rather than naming it), but the procedure through which that number is generated is just too much. Far too longwinded. Rate: 3/10 13. Vindicator This is a card divination effect. The performer cuts the deck a few times and hands it over to the spectator. He then turns his back to them and asks them to hold the cards face up and to cut them a few times. Furthermore, while still holding them face up, they are asked to cut the deck into three piles. Once this is done, there are three piles of face up cards in front of them. The performer points out that, since the deck was cut by them several times prior to the making of these three piles and since they chose where to cut the deck when making these three piles, no one could have known ahead of time what cards would end up at the top of those three face up piles. The spectator agrees. The spectator is then asked to remember one of the three cards and then they are asked to turn all three piles face down. Furthermore they are asked to shuffle the pile containing their card so as to lose it (so that it isn’t at the bottom of that pile anymore). At this point the performer turns back around and asks them to reassemble all three piles, after which he asks them to shuffle the entire deck. Then, without even touching the deck, he divines the name of their selected card. The effect isn’t impromptu and requires a setup. I like this very much. It looks very impossible from the spectator’s point of view. The performer is turned away from them during the entire procedure (and he isn’t secretly peeking behind either; he genuinely is looking away the entire time). And when he turns back around to face the spectator, they have already shuffled the pile containing their card. Also, the performer never touches anything. He simply tells the spectator to gather up all three piles and to shuffle the entire deck, after which he, without ever laying a finger on any card or even coming near the deck, proceeds to divine the identity of their selected card. Also, the deck is fully examinable at the end. The spectator won’t find anything. This is a showstopper if presented well. Rate: 8/10 So there you have it. That’s a review for 13 (of the 16) routines found in the book. As mentioned at the beginning, I excluded 3 routines from my review (the only 3 that don’t involve playing cards) because I didn’t study them in any detail yet. So what you have here is a review for MOST of the book (but not all of the book). If you were to average out my rates for the 13 routines that I reviewed above, you’d get ~5.5/10. So the book is overall slightly above average. But, while the average rate comes to 5.5/10, that’s not to say everything in the book is average. As seen above, while I found some routines in the book average, I found some bad while I found others good. I only gave 3 routines a 5/10 (average). On the other hand, I gave 2 routines a 3/10, 2 routines a 4/10, 1 routine a 6/10, 4 routines a 7/10, and 1 routine an 8/10. So, in my opinion, there’s plenty of bad, average and good in the book. Is it worth the $100 price tag for 6 “good” effects (the 6 that I rated above a 5/10)? Maybe yes, maybe no (depends on how serious of a performer you are). For me personally, yes the $100 price tag was justified and worth it for the 6 good effects. I will be using several of them time and time again. And that for me is enough. 
rrubin98 Veteran user Cogito, ergo sum scripsit 363 Posts 
Thanks for this review, MBAgamer!

Claudio Inner circle Europe 1976 Posts 
Thanks for the review. You wrote that there are 16 effects in total. That's an average of about 30 pages per effect! They must be very complicated to explain or is something else?

dawnzubair New user Singapore 92 Posts 
Thanks for the review. I have this book and I like Ben's thinking and routines. I would rate the entire book a 7.5/10, but I like your analysis and reasoning.
Looking forward to more reviews from you. 
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » “Truth Fables” by Ben Blau — a full detailed review, routine by routine (3 Likes) 
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