Levitation: Physics and Psychology in the Service of Deception

Overview

Levitation tells the story of the most dazzling gravity-defying illusion ever performed on stage, and features a cast of characters that seems almost too good to be true: John Neville Maskelyne, the very proper scientist-magician and the trick's inventor; Harry Kellar, the brash American who fails to buy the illusion, so steals it instead; Howard Thurston, the handsome and charismatic performer who inherits the act from Kellar; and Guy Jarrett, the rough-and-tumble engineer who perfects the levitation and guides ...
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Overview

Levitation tells the story of the most dazzling gravity-defying illusion ever performed on stage, and features a cast of characters that seems almost too good to be true: John Neville Maskelyne, the very proper scientist-magician and the trick's inventor; Harry Kellar, the brash American who fails to buy the illusion, so steals it instead; Howard Thurston, the handsome and charismatic performer who inherits the act from Kellar; and Guy Jarrett, the rough-and-tumble engineer who perfects the levitation and guides us through the unfolding drama. But true it is - you'll never look at magic, or the mysteries of science - the same way again.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This nonfiction graphic novel gives the history of three early 20th-century magicians and the invention of the standard levitation trick. It's claimed that "Entranced Fakir," or "The Levitation of the Princess of Karnak" came from India, but in reality it was stolen from European magician John Neville Maskelyne by American Harry Kellar, who took it back to the States. Years later, it was passed on to Howard Thurston, who had "the voice and bearing of a preacher with the manner of a carnival barker." (Kellar notes that the two professions are "not so different.") The art is lively with nice Georgian and Jazz Age touches, especially in face shots that resemble old, hypnotic-eyed daguerreotypes of mesmerists in frock coats. It's all good fun, but the story never finds its heart, only touching on the obsessive control the great traveling magicians must have had, and their life on the road. The hard economics they faced comes through splendidly, however. To perform, they had to look like gentlemen. To survive, they had to act like cutthroat rogues. The story contains two revelations: one is the diagram explaining the trick. The other is the revelation that even when audience members are quietly shown how it works, they don't tell.(July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Joe Sutliff Sanders
This publisher continues its history of excellent graphic novels about science with these books. Levitation explores the history of the great stage-magician illusion of the levitating assistant, complete with a hoop passed over the assistant to show that there are no wires. Wire Mothers presents an encounter with the scientist who dared to theorize, explain, and test love despite persistent professional resistance. Although these two graphic novels are about different figures in different eras, the techniques behind both books are the same. Both fruitfully use a character who narrates the history and conflicts of the scientific inquiry that is the subject of the book: In Levitation, it is a stage manager, and in Wire Mothers, it is the scientist himself. Because these narrator-characters are engaging people with investments in the stories being told, the histories recounted become personal and interesting. These characters explain the science at stake to listeners who are non-specialists, enabling Ottaviani to communicate the scientific principles he explores clearly for any audience. The illustrations in both are also well suited to their particular stories: Levitation invokes florid type font and fluid layout (fitting for a story about stage magic), but Wire Mothers uses heavy inking to create a mood that is alternately oppressive and intimate, ideal for a story about the sometimes inhumane experiments that quantified discourse about love. (Harlow conducted experiments on infant monkeys in which surrogate mothers were constructed of chicken wire or cloth-covered wood.) Teens interested in these subjects will read the books repeatedly, andothers will be able to enjoy them simply because they use good characterization and clear plots.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780978803704
  • Publisher: G.T. Labs
  • Publication date: 7/25/2007
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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