I have just heard that Martin Gardner has died; he was ninety-five years old. Most of the obituaries and articles that have suddenly appeared announcing his death present him as a mathematician and puzzle master. As yet, I’ve haven’t found any that speak of him being a creative and talented magician. When he wasn’t writing directly about magic, the subject of magic still permeated most of his other writings.
Gardner knew such luminaries as Dai Vernon and Faucett Ross and was a friend to other creative card men, such as Bill Simon. One of Gardner’s books, The Encyclopaedia of Impromptu Magic, is highly regarded; Paul Daniels and other professional magicians have praised it and remarked on its usefulness in providing material for ‘on the spur of the moment’ publicity opportunities.
So while many of the articles describe Gardner as a polymath in terms of mathematics, philosophy, literature and other subjects – let’s also remember that he was just as influential in the world of magic, and as in all the subjects he wrote about, stimulated curiosity and intelligence regarding it.