Theseus by Nathan Colwell


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“Nathan Colwell’s Theseus is a model of how to simultaneously explain and inspire—not only its uniquely mysterious subject, but also the meticulous process of how its creative components came into being. In the ’60s such books were considered “trippy,” because they expanded one’s consciousness in evolutionary ways, revealing differences that actually make a difference. In that regard, Colwell’s debut book is both an exciting journey and a destination.”

—Jon Racherbaumer

“I met Nathan Colwell one afternoon at Magic, Inc. and was instantly impressed by his clever ideas and flawless execution, in an unassuming style. I also sensed he was very well read and had a deep respect for the good magicians and creators of the past and present. In Theseus, I am pleased to see that Nathan is also a fine writer and analyst, with a deep conceptual thinking. Aside from the quality of the material, this book is also a master class on making choices when putting a routine together. Nathan rocks. I’m eager to see him again.”

—Rafael Benatar

“Nathan, like Simon, is brilliant. Theseus was written with incredible thought and attention or as Simon would say—examining all the ‘what ifs.’”

—Ginny Aronson

“Nathan offers a fascinating plot of truly Fulvesian quirkiness. It combines a topologically flavored impossibility with an existential philosophical question in a unique way. I loved reading the stages of its development and exploring the different solutions.”

—Denis Behr

“On a random day a few years ago, I sat in a diner a few blocks away from Magic, Inc. in Chicago, with Nathan Colwell and the beloved pocket Marlo to watch over our session, as is tradition in Chicago. Nathan proceeds to tell me about an effect he’s been working on called Theseus. he then proceeds to fool the s#*t out of me with it—a beautiful T&R [like] routine and so much more.”

—Larry Horayne

Chicago-based magician-author-creator-teacher, Nathan Colwell‘s new book is themed around a card plot adapted from the thought problem “The Ship of Theseus.” Theseus addresses the age-old question: If something has each of its parts replaced, and each replacement is negligible, does its identity stay the same through this process of change?

From the foreword by Marcus Eddie:

“You are about to embark on an epic journey into a world of ideas that will inspire you. He will rip your brain apart into pieces and replace each one with a newer and stronger piece. But the question is, will you be the same person afterward? My theory is, you will be forever changed!”

Get ready to set sail as Theseus takes you on a magical journey in four parts: Logbook, Open Sea, Adrift, and Fellow Travelers.

Part I, Logbook, explains the history, general ideas, and overarching concepts which will be explored over the course of the book. This includes the Ship of Theseus thought problem, the Theseus plot, the script actively used by the author, and the history of the plot and solutions.

Part II, Open Sea, contains the methods considered fit for public consumption. They are numbered in the order originally developed; numbered versions not included are skipped. This section includes solutions Three, Five, Six, and Ten.

Part III, Adrift, contains discussions about some of the methods that did not meet the author’s standards for performance. They are included to explain ideas considered necessary for a complete explanation regarding his thoughts on the plot. It also includes an interesting one-phase effect that follows Theseus’ lead in style.

Part IV, Fellow Travelers, contains versions of the plot from two known card magicians highly respected by the author: Harapan Ong and the late Simon Aronson. Both versions are fabulous contributions to the plot.

Theseus: A Magical Journey by Nathan Colwell. Illustrated by Charitha Lankathilaka. Published by Magic Inc. 108 pages.