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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a work of alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction wherein Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising resu Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a work of alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction wherein Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising results.

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a work of alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction wherein Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising resu Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a work of alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction wherein Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes surprising results.

30 review for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hussain Elius

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Imagine Harry Potter being replaced with a Harry Potter with combined talents of Ender Wiggins, Artemis Fowl and Yagami Light and put him in world much darker than Rowling envisioned. Yep, that's what this book was. No Ron or Hagrid to distract you, this is a Machiavellian Harry who manipulates people to his own ends, with powers the Dark Lord knows not, and the ambition for world domination (or, as he would call it, world optimization) It is a HUGE book and still ongoing. Took me three days stra Imagine Harry Potter being replaced with a Harry Potter with combined talents of Ender Wiggins, Artemis Fowl and Yagami Light and put him in world much darker than Rowling envisioned. Yep, that's what this book was. No Ron or Hagrid to distract you, this is a Machiavellian Harry who manipulates people to his own ends, with powers the Dark Lord knows not, and the ambition for world domination (or, as he would call it, world optimization) It is a HUGE book and still ongoing. Took me three days straight to finish it, but I don't regret a moment of it. Not only was it fun, it was almost in all ways better than the originals (it does need to be heavily edited and consolidated in multiple parts, but as a fan-fiction, I'll let it slide). So far (Jan'12) , there are five big arcs: 1. Harry trying to bring Malfoy to the side of Good 2. Harry's powerplay with Snape and Dumbledore 3. Extra-curricular mock battles in Defense Against Dark Arts class, similar to Ender's Game, that takes place in forests, corridors and even underwater 4. Harry helping carry out a prison break from Azkaban (not Sirius) 5. Hermione's quest to become a hero on her own right, rather than live under Harry's shadow. + More but that would be giving away spoilers Not to mention multiple smaller arcs, littered infodumps (but not too much) and philosophical discussions about life, the universe and everything with the very smart Quirrel and Dumbledore. Now, this is not just a story, the author has tried to put his ideas forward as a rationalist in this on-going series, and he has done so beautifully. The premise, the execution, and the stories are all superb. Kudos to the author for producing the best fan-fiction, if not the best fiction, I have ever read. --- Rabid fan re-review: No review does the book justice. I mean seriously, I can't give you guys spoilers but HOLY FUCK. I just finished the latest arc and my mind has been blown with a power of a exploding star. I don't think even Rowling put as much thought behind HP as Eliezer Yudkowsky did. Harry is a scientist. And he asks the basic question in the fantasy novel. How does Magic work? Why does putting stuff in a pot and brewing them make a potion that can change your molecular structure? How can it be conceivable for the human brain to operate in the anatomy of a cat? And he delivers answers. Even if you didn't like Harry Potter, this... this you should read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    AI researcher and decision theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky probably woke up one day and asked himself a single question: what would have happened in Harry Potter’s first year in Hogwarts, had he not been such an insufferable idiot? You might not have considered him to be an idiot in the first place, but as the book progresses and the new Harry makes his way around Hogwarts, facing the same problems and situations, it becomes impossible to ignore the oh so logical and natural way he handles them this AI researcher and decision theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky probably woke up one day and asked himself a single question: what would have happened in Harry Potter’s first year in Hogwarts, had he not been such an insufferable idiot? You might not have considered him to be an idiot in the first place, but as the book progresses and the new Harry makes his way around Hogwarts, facing the same problems and situations, it becomes impossible to ignore the oh so logical and natural way he handles them this time. It really makes one wonder what was going through his head in the original version and feels like a direct critique of Rowling. It made me wonder how I managed to ever take the original seriously (might have something to do with me being 8 at the time). In Eliezer’s version of the story, Harry is a child prodigy; Highly intelligent and educated well beyond his years in the sciences and the methods of rationality, he is well equipped to handle anything the magical world can throw at him and then some. But this Harry also has a dark side and we get to know him better as he struggles to find balance in himself. The differences in this parallel universe don’t end with Harry, though. His adopting parents, Petunia and Prof. Michael Verres-Evans, are happily married and treat him as they would their own flesh and blood. Ron and Hermione remain mostly the same, although genius Harry obviously prefers to interact with the hard working book-worm and quickly decides that a boring, average ginger is simply not worth his precious time (speaking of time... no, I won’t ruin the surprise). A cunning and manipulative Draco Malfoy and a powerful yet cynical Prof. Quirrell take on larger roles, in quite unexpected ways. We also see much more of Dumbledore (who’s actually read The Lord of the Rings, seeing as every muggle student ever to come to Hogwarts thought that gifting him a copy was an original idea). It seems important to note that magic is also treated a little bit differently, especially by a scientific Harry, who sets out to test and understand it, thus restoring order to the seemingly shattered laws of physics. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan and at times he is forced to improvise. The book started out pretty well, with some laugh out loud scenes as Harry finds out about magic for the first time (see quote below). As I read the first few chapters I kept waiting for the level to drop, for the premise to exhaust itself, for my enthusiasm to subside, but 300 pages in and hungrily reading on, It was clear that I’ve stumbled upon something great and that the story is safe in the deft hands of Eliezer Yudkowsky. Quote --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That's not just an arbitrary rule, it's implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signaling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can't just visualize a whole cat's anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the neurology? How can you go on thinking using a cat-sized brain?” ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The book is funny, at times hilarious. The premise is well executed as Eliezer draws from his vast experience as a rationalist and lets us take a look at genius minds at work; we all know how hard that is to pull off. Methods of Rationality really hits its stride around chapter 5 and according to the author if you haven’t taken to it by chapter 10, then that’s a good time to call it quits (and rethink your interests). From the get-go, different decisions create chains of cause and effect that send the book in pretty different directions (like Harry finding out almost immediately that he’s prophesied to battle against the dark lord). Other scenes repeat almost word for word, like the first potions lesson with Snape (only this time, Harry refuses to play the victim and stands up to him, in a rather spectacular fashion). As the story progressed, I found myself engrossed in the plot, invested in the characters and generally unable to put the book down. It is not flawless and at times Eliezer’s inexperience as a novel writer shows, but overall this is as good as it gets. Come for the premise, stay for the story and along the way let the message of rationality rub off and enlighten you. I’ve rarely been as inspired to study, as in love with science or as driven to succeed as when I’ve read this book. https://eddiesmo.wordpress.com/catego...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I wanted to like this, honestly. When I stumbled upon it and read that description, I figured it was going to be brilliant. So naturally it wasn't. The author leaves a note saying if you don't like it by chapter five, wait until chapter ten, and if you still don't like it by then, get out. That's exactly what I'm doing. This isn't the first book (so to speak) where the idea is wonderful but it's executed horribly. For starters, the writing is a bit sloppy at times, and when I say at times, I mean I wanted to like this, honestly. When I stumbled upon it and read that description, I figured it was going to be brilliant. So naturally it wasn't. The author leaves a note saying if you don't like it by chapter five, wait until chapter ten, and if you still don't like it by then, get out. That's exactly what I'm doing. This isn't the first book (so to speak) where the idea is wonderful but it's executed horribly. For starters, the writing is a bit sloppy at times, and when I say at times, I mean every single second of this made my head hurt because it was painful to read. You can also swap painful with boring, because more than anything, that's all I got from it. Harry is even more of an arrogant little jerk who spends his time proving that he has to be right. He talks down to everyone, throws around words bigger than he is, and ultimately makes himself look like an ass with his attempts at humor. I should not hate an eleven-year-old this much! But I couldn't help it, and I think the biggest reason why is because he never once acts like an eleven-year-old. I wasn't even interested in wherever the plot was going. I'm assuming there's some world-domination crap that could probably be interested if it was more realistic (I know it's the wizarding world, but you know what I mean!), but I got tired of listening to Harry mock the world the original Harry loves so much. Even McGonagall makes cracks at "being locked up in a cupboard for ten years," and more than I was appalled at that bad attempt at a joke, I was a little surprised that the author would write the characters so badly. The ironic part is that the start of chapter eleven (which I reached when I decided to call it quits) includes an author's note saying "in which everyone else in the wizarding world remains the same but only Harry's character is changed). Because really, from what I've heard that comes from the story later on, every character is different. Every character is like one asshole hipster of the original. Original Harry loved being a Seeker? Smart Harry thinks Seekers completely ruin the point of the sport. This was so infuriating and painful to get through, and I only made it through ten chapters. I only gave it two stars because I adore the idea of the story. I could sit here for a while and tear this story apart, but I have better things to do with my time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Toby Toldya

    Great idea; terrible execution. In fact, I think the summary is completely misleading. While some scenes had me laughing out loud, I spent most of my time cringing or raising one eyebrow or the other; HPMOR is saturated with Yudkowsky's blatant disdain and a condescending tone. Characters are, for the most part, wildly out of character. Harry completely fails to act like an 11 year old boy, and reads like a thinly-veiled, sociopathic self-insert. Draco is also worrying sociopathic, even beyond t Great idea; terrible execution. In fact, I think the summary is completely misleading. While some scenes had me laughing out loud, I spent most of my time cringing or raising one eyebrow or the other; HPMOR is saturated with Yudkowsky's blatant disdain and a condescending tone. Characters are, for the most part, wildly out of character. Harry completely fails to act like an 11 year old boy, and reads like a thinly-veiled, sociopathic self-insert. Draco is also worrying sociopathic, even beyond the rape threat that others have mentioned, when the books took careful pains to make him rather more human and sympathetic. Dumbledore and Quirrel have also been replaced by Doppelgangers Yudkowsky apparently felt would better fit his story. I rather liked the idea, but the actual story is uncomfortably contemptuous of those who don't adhere to 'rationality'.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Xi Xinghe

    Recently I've been wondering just what exactly I wanted from literary fiction. Surely I did not expect life-changing epiphanies, at least not from every single book. But neither did I want my books be merely means to cheap escapism, which I had, perhaps mistakenly, long associated with genre fiction. Somehow I seem to be asking both too much and not enough, and therein lies the reason for my inability to rekindle the kind of pure unadulterated love I used to have for reading. No longer can I sim Recently I've been wondering just what exactly I wanted from literary fiction. Surely I did not expect life-changing epiphanies, at least not from every single book. But neither did I want my books be merely means to cheap escapism, which I had, perhaps mistakenly, long associated with genre fiction. Somehow I seem to be asking both too much and not enough, and therein lies the reason for my inability to rekindle the kind of pure unadulterated love I used to have for reading. No longer can I simply pick up a book with a fancy cover and devour it like a fat kid with a Macdonald's burger. Now my books have to be interesting but not too fantastical, philosophical but not overly pretentious, and preferably famous but hopefully unfamilar to people my age. Structures should to be organic, voices have to be genuine and reviews must be glowing. Years of reliance on the "award-winning" shelf at the library have turned me into a spoiled and picky book reader. Perhaps not yet a book snob, but definitely approaching that territory. A book vegan, perhaps. Yet sometimes despite my pickiness, I would find a book that by all accounts I should hate, but cannot help but love anyway, like a cheeseburger you bought because you were in a rush, but turned out to be your best meal of the day. Below is ostensibly a review for such a book, but really is a love letter to my favourite "book" at the moment. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is the first piece of fan-fiction I have ever read, and never in my life did I expect myself to fall head over heels in love with a wall of text posted on a website that is also home to thousands of pages of Harry/Draco erotica. To those of us that grew up with Rowling's books, the Harry Potter series was our heathen bible, our first novel, and the source of some of our fondest childhood memories. That someone by the name of "lesswrong" dared to "improve"on a book so loved and sacred in the eyes of its fans is nothing short of blasphemy. A fan-fiction that dared to attempt to surpass its original! It seemed like arrogance of the highest level, and I felt like God looking down upon the Tower of Babel. Yet from the very first chapter, HPMOR felt like no ordinary tribute or parody. It was a truely original reimagining of a world that was already exceedingly familar to any casual consumer of popular culture, let alone a fan. At first, the differences between Eliezer Yudkowsky's universe and Rowling's may seem superficial. The basis of the story can be summed up by the HPMOR website's tagline, "Petunia married a professor, and Harry grew up reading science and science-fiction." Imagine, for a moment, that Harry was never an orphan, and grew up in a loving family into a well-adjusted, confident, if not a little eccentric 11-year-old. Imagine again, that Harry actually knew SCIENCE before encoutering magic. The result is a surprisingly different story from the original. Without the insecurities and emotional baggage that accompanied the original protagonist, there is greater room in the story to explore the world around Harry, rather than to dwell on the inner turmoil of Harry himself. At the same time, the new, precocious Harry can now employ all the tools of rationality to discover, dissect and manipulate the magical world around him. He is no longer a passive observer in a strange, scary universe, but rather an active explorer from the get-go, more like a college student touring a new country, than a child transferring to a new school. While the new Harry is perhaps a less relatable character for real 11-year-olds, he is much a more interesting character for the adult reader. Harry's mix of cynicism and wide-eyed wonder felt genuine and appropriate, while at the same time providing us with an alternate view of the magical universe from a scientific point of view. The other great divergence of HPMOR from the original lies in the tone of the story. The original makes clear the moral standing of each character(except in the very last book), including the much beloved Snape, whose true nature was eventually revealed. HPMOR never allows its characters to fit comfortably into explicit moral brackets, with the difficulties of seperating "good" from "evil" as one of its central themes. None of the characters are safe from moral ambiguity, not Harry, not Hermione, not even Dumbledore(who *spoilers* admitted that he may very well become the next Dark Lord after the fall of Voldemort) Yet in this grey alternate universe, we feel the anguish and joy of each character more acutely there ever before. Because the reader can now see how there are no easy choices for any of the characters, the plight of the characters feels more tragic. And with true victories few and far between, when a character does manage to come out ahead in an impossible situation, the accompanying euphoria is truly uplifting. Ironically, this more gritty and realistic universe provided a much more optimistic world view than that of the original. Compared to original's utopic depiction of magical Britain, HPMOR, by making clear the deficiences of a pre-industrial, logicless society, puts muggles and wizards on a much more equal standing. In this world, nothing is perfect, not even magic. That muggle scientists have achieved what even wielders of magic have deemed impossible is testament to the strength of our spirit of enquiry and discovery. Some have found such overtly humanist elements in the story to be naive and unrealistic. But I found it to be an effective counter-weight to the over-adulation of magic as the answer to all of humanity's problems, needs and wishes. Yudkowsky allows his readers to immerse in this fantastic world, but also remembers to remind us that in many ways, we can already do magic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I wanted to love this book, I really did. I mean, the premise itself was what got me hooked. I'm sure we've all thought that there was something to be desired in the Plausibility and Possibilities department of the original Harry Potter series, so I jumped at the idea of a realistic story inspired by the methods of rationality! Turns out it wasn't inspired by it so much as it was drowned by it. Spoiler Alert: I didn't finish the book. Yudkowsky left a note about how the series hits its stride at I wanted to love this book, I really did. I mean, the premise itself was what got me hooked. I'm sure we've all thought that there was something to be desired in the Plausibility and Possibilities department of the original Harry Potter series, so I jumped at the idea of a realistic story inspired by the methods of rationality! Turns out it wasn't inspired by it so much as it was drowned by it. Spoiler Alert: I didn't finish the book. Yudkowsky left a note about how the series hits its stride at chapter 5, and "if you still don't like it by chapter 10, give up." So I followed his advice. I'll try to summarize why I did so: 1. Harry Potter is a little shit. And you know it. I thought long and hard about whether or not this was truly a bad thing, and I think I'm still convinced that it is. Asshole should have a reason for being assholes. They either contrast the good in others, serve to advance the plot, or provide a more interesting POV (i.e. we WANT to hear stories from their POV). This Harry is none of those. He's unnecessarily entitled, and his manipulation skills are both highly romanticized and very Gary-Stu-esque. I don't want to be anywhere near this kid, let alone hear his mind-cogs turn. 2. This story was less about Harry Potter than it was about the awesomeness of 'being rational'. I may have had a biased foundation because I knew the author was from Less Wrong. But, I tried to keep an open mind, and I have to say that my opinion didn't stray much from my initial impression. Speaking as someone with a long career in the STEM field, I still don't understand this infatuation some people have with rationality. Humans weren't meant to be cool, calculating and logical probability machines. Emotions are a part of our everyday lives; it plays a part in almost all of our decisions, and it's been indisputably advantageous in the evolutionary sense. So why is it that this story is absolutely dripping with contempt for any method of reasoning that strays beyond that of the 'scientifically sound'? To sum it up, science is all about keeping an open mind. So why am I being pounded with the idea that 'the rational way is the only way'? That any decisions made based on emotions or feelings deserve to be scorned to the highest degree? 3. The writing was not much more than mediocre. Yudkowsky would be better suited to writing about hypotheses and experiments than about fictive people. Even McGonagall felt flat and one-dimensional. This was mitigated in no part by all of Harry's impressive (and very tedious) references to all sorts of logical and mathematical theorems. It was too much. It was boring. And dull (ironically). I don't want to keep reading about why Harry wants to do this, how he'll do it, and what it does for his ominous plans for the future. I want to know more about this alternate world, its characters and their interactions with each other. I wanted a work that was rich in the culture of an alternate world, and ended being served dish after dish of Harry's bland Mind-Porridge. I wish I could better express how horrified I was at this blatant love song for rational thinkers. I've encountered too many people in my academic career who valued rational thinking above everything else in their lives, and falsely equate it with a sign of superior intelligence. This book is just another iteration of those fantasies, only longer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is the funniest thing I have ever read. I have never read something this funny before. It was extremely difficult to do anything except read it until I had "finished" it, and now it's hard to do anything but think about it and wish there was a lot more of it for me to read. I guess I'll just read some of his rationalist essay series instead!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I can't decide if this was really good or really bad. As a novel (or the majority of a novel) it was pretty terrible. As fanfic it seemed pretty good (to me, which doesn't mean anything, because I am not the kind of guy that reads fanfic at all). I guess I'll go with three stars which seems to say both of those things at once. Concept that I like: take 11-year-old Harry Potter, about to enter Hogwarts. Make him an incredibly astute and science-minded young boy, and then see just how he'd react to I can't decide if this was really good or really bad. As a novel (or the majority of a novel) it was pretty terrible. As fanfic it seemed pretty good (to me, which doesn't mean anything, because I am not the kind of guy that reads fanfic at all). I guess I'll go with three stars which seems to say both of those things at once. Concept that I like: take 11-year-old Harry Potter, about to enter Hogwarts. Make him an incredibly astute and science-minded young boy, and then see just how he'd react to all of the situations that J. K. Rowling threw him into. Wrap it all up in some Douglas Adams-inspired humor (more Dirk Gently than HHGTTG) and serve warm. That right there is pretty good all around, and that's what the first few chapters are. I recommend them to anyone that is familiar with the Harry Potter universe. Concept that I hate: author(s) realize that writing this is a Good Thing (note: questionable) and proceed to drag it out over 80 chapters, getting more and more serious. Turn Harry Potter into the Ender Wiggin of the magical world, except also give him Peter and Valentine's sense of Machiavellian scheming. Combine that with poor writing that tells rather than shows, and the signs saying: WARNING - AUTHOR IS MAKING UP PLOT AS THEY GO ALONG and next thing you know it's all fallen apart. And really, that's understandable. When you take this new Rational and Science-y Harry and put him in the story, it goes something like this: McGonagall: "... and we're worried that you'd run off and do something stupid like try and fight He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named by yourself." Potter: "That's ridiculous. Why would I want to endanger myself like that? How about I go hide out in Australia and let a team of experienced Aurors find him and take care of him, and I come back when it's over?" I like that and the author(s) present it with a dose of funny. However, it also immediately takes the story off of the canon rails. If the humor is in seeing Harry react to Rowling-established situations but his reactions prevent him from reaching the next stop on the list of Rowling-established situations, what can you do? Just start writing your own novel? Apparently the answer is yes. ... and right here I guess this is the point where I realize that I have no prior interaction with the fanfic world and maybe this is The Best Fanfic There Is and I'll never know. Oh well. If this is the best then I'm absolutely disinclined to try any others. Good points: - it made me laugh many times. The laughs decreased as the chapter numbers increased and by the end I was probably down to 0.5 laughs / chapter but still ... there are a lot of other "funny" books that never made me laugh out loud even once. - the author(s) did a great job of applying science to the magical world over and over, and it was not only entertaining but educational. Bad points, unfortunately a much longer list: - horrible writing. If I had to read about one more smile, statement, face, blood, reaction, expression, or whatever else being "cold" I would have been tempted to throw my Kindle across the room. See also "hard." I literally lost count of how many times Harry experienced some black cold rage or was threatened by someone with a hard cold tone in their voice. - characters in the story are incapable of giving looks that are anything but significant. This book apparently takes place in a world where a full third of communication is done by facial gymnastics. - "plot" (see how I put it in quotes to imply that it's not even a plot and I'm being generous by calling it such) is held together by ... I don't know what. Held together by the comments section of whatever fanfic site this is posted on, with people saying "OMG CANT WAIT 4 NEXT CHAPTER"? - nerd pop culture references. Ugh. I mean it's not like "DID U SEE THE LAST EP OF BIG BANG THEORY?" kind of thing, at least it's the old standards of Star Wars and Ender's Game and Lord of the Rings, but still. - did I mention that Harry is the new Ender + Peter + Valentine? - in this universe voices always appear behind someone while they're doing something. Everyone sneaks up all the time. It's totally rad. I'm gonna stop bashing it now. I read it all the way through (Chapter 80 being the most recent at the time of this review) and didn't stop, so obviously it held my interest, but the farther I got the more I found myself skipping pages of descriptions about scheming and double-crossing and plotting and other tedious things, just trying to cherry-pick the science and humor bits that were getting lost in the fumbling plot. I'm happy it's over and I won't be seeking out new chapters as they appear.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv

    Update: 15 March, 2015 OMG! It's over. It has been a wild ride, one of the best I've ever been on. The ending was satisfying in ways I cannot express. Yudkowsky has wowed, amazed, and blown minds through this epic, and I can't wait to read more of his work in the future! -- I have never felt the need to take fan fiction seriously. They are, at best, exercises of creativity in a predetermined world, and the best of them usually do not stray too far from the established lore. As it stands, “Harry Pot Update: 15 March, 2015 OMG! It's over. It has been a wild ride, one of the best I've ever been on. The ending was satisfying in ways I cannot express. Yudkowsky has wowed, amazed, and blown minds through this epic, and I can't wait to read more of his work in the future! -- I have never felt the need to take fan fiction seriously. They are, at best, exercises of creativity in a predetermined world, and the best of them usually do not stray too far from the established lore. As it stands, “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” is the only exception – it has hooked me in so deeply that I just cannot get out of the fascinating world that its author, Eliezer Yudkowsky, has created. If you have always felt that Rowling’s characters, and vision of Hogwarts and magical Britain were lacking then you weren’t the only one. They always felt absurd to me as well, lacking coherence and sense in a world that exhibited elitism towards ordinary human beings and looked down at science. The ignorance they displayed is appalling. Yudkowsky addresses these issues with his fantastic fan fiction that offers a whole new take on this universe. The world remains the same, but with some major differences. Petunia, finally showing some sense, has married a professor at Oxford after she took a ‘beauty’ potion from her sister. Together they raise Harry Potter with love and affection, instilling in him an undying love for rationality and scientific inquiry. Harry is a child prodigy who is acerbic and downright pedantic at times, but brilliant nonetheless. He is a combination of the qualities of Artemis Fowl and Yagami Light (Death Note), displaying intelligence and wit simply unheard of in an eleven year old boy. He is joined by Hermione, who is instantly marked as his rival and romantic interest, and Draco, who is charming and a smart social manipulator. Ron and Hagrid are blissfully absent since they do not have anything to offer in Yudkowsky’s vision of magical Britain; both characters become part of the scenery and do not play any essential roles. The storyline involves a lot of political maneuvering, social manipulation, being extremely clever, and copious amounts of rationalism. It results in an extremely funny story where Snape gets taken down a notch, Dumbledore is shown to be an clumsy strategist, and McGonagall remains forever flustered by everything that happens around her. Oh, and Harry is a Ravenclaw. It is a fun and easy read that gets complicated at times. This is due to the fact that Yudkowsky writes about advanced topics such as Bayes’s Theorem, cognitive bias, and artificial intelligence, among many things. The simple but academic writing style makes these topics clear and accessible. The plot is intriguing and the author somehow manages to fit ‘rational’ ideas into every other chapter while still remaining captivating. The story is highly didactic, aimed at teaching you the abovementioned concepts, among other things, while at the same time pokes fun at the goofier bits of the original series. Yudkowsky is also adept at generating tension that drives the story forward. That is not to say that the writing isn’t without its flaws. Yudkowsky dumps a lot of information on the reader at times, which slows the story down to glacial speeds. The info dumps are especially pronounced at the beginning, but diminish as the story picks up. This also means that external characterization is relatively sparse. However, their internal thought processes are laid out by the author, offering us insight into what makes them tick. In fact, it works better than you might think, though it’s not for all types of readers. Although the final work is concise and well-presented, it still lacks the polish that published works have. That can be fixed in the hands of a capable editor though, who can organize and trim it down to a more enjoyable read than it already is. “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” is still an ongoing project that has 77 chapters as of today (January 18, 2012). It took me about eleven days to absorb it all. It has reintroduced me to rational thinking and changed my outlook towards the world. This ‘book’ simply cannot be recommended enough if you want to have a terrific time while broadening your horizon by learning about science, philosophy and rationality.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    When I read a novel and I loved it, I always want the story to never end. The longer the better. Oh how I wished "Harry Potter" series never ended. But while reading a story, the thought that it's a long one becomes an issue, then I believe the story is not fulfilling it's purpose. The idea behind this book is pretty great, I concur. But as I continue reading I fill like I'm reading a science book or a paper about a theory instead of a novel. It's not that the science part isn't interesting, it's When I read a novel and I loved it, I always want the story to never end. The longer the better. Oh how I wished "Harry Potter" series never ended. But while reading a story, the thought that it's a long one becomes an issue, then I believe the story is not fulfilling it's purpose. The idea behind this book is pretty great, I concur. But as I continue reading I fill like I'm reading a science book or a paper about a theory instead of a novel. It's not that the science part isn't interesting, it's just that I didn't pick up the novel to learn science. More than half the book is filled with explanations of muggle science theories to the wizards. More like, the muggle is the writer and wizards would be us, the readers. I really enjoyed learning the science bit, that's why I finished the book in the first place. But after reading about 20 chapters, I read it as a science book instead of a novel. If you are a science lover, this book would be interesting but for those who love to read a good Harry Potter fan fiction, you would just end up wishing the story to progress quicker but never happened. The writer would have been better off writing a real science book, I would have even loved his book if so instead of using Harry Potter as a tool to attract readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Surya

    I wanted to like this fanfic. As a mathematician and an atheist I should have liked this fanfic. I didn't. The writing is poor (even for fanfic) and the characterisation worse. The author has turned Harry Potter into the most unsympathetic and unlikeable child I can possibly imagine - which I would guess from his bio is also a blatant Mary-Sue. Should have been called Harry Potter, the Snotty Little Git.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Summers-Stay

    Imagine if Ender Wiggen were put in Harry Potter's place, and the cunning of other characters upgraded in a similar way. Yudkowsky is a gifted writer, and he plays off the tropes of fanfiction and the idiosyncrasies of the world of Hogwarts in a way that transcends the genre. The books is at times laugh out loud funny, touching, inspiring, and always very smart. Writing fanfiction in order to get more people to read your blog about obscure logical fallacies!? You'd have to be a genius to actuall Imagine if Ender Wiggen were put in Harry Potter's place, and the cunning of other characters upgraded in a similar way. Yudkowsky is a gifted writer, and he plays off the tropes of fanfiction and the idiosyncrasies of the world of Hogwarts in a way that transcends the genre. The books is at times laugh out loud funny, touching, inspiring, and always very smart. Writing fanfiction in order to get more people to read your blog about obscure logical fallacies!? You'd have to be a genius to actually succeed at that. He is, and he does. It's an unfinished serial novel, and it suffers a little from being not quite a final draft. There's a single evil comment by Draco that I would edit out in chapter 7, and the bit with the Patronus descends into preachy/political interjection. But it's hard to find fault when that's the stated purpose of the work in the first place. Really, you should give this a try.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    HPMOR (as it's known to fans) is the perfect book for nerds: funny, clever, rife with allusions to other great nerdly works, and yet seriously capable of teaching something real. In this case, the real value-add are principles of reasoning that can lead to better decisions by genuinely emotional, non-Spockian humans in real life. Shockingly, this story also has a plot. It runs roughly parallel with the HP canon, but the relationships are different and the entire arc of the Potter stories seems d HPMOR (as it's known to fans) is the perfect book for nerds: funny, clever, rife with allusions to other great nerdly works, and yet seriously capable of teaching something real. In this case, the real value-add are principles of reasoning that can lead to better decisions by genuinely emotional, non-Spockian humans in real life. Shockingly, this story also has a plot. It runs roughly parallel with the HP canon, but the relationships are different and the entire arc of the Potter stories seems destined to be compressed into alter-Harry's first year. Harry and Hermione are both Ravenclaws who work together to seek the principles by which magic actually works -- a scientific research program into the unscientific that not accidentally resembles the origins of science in the first place. Harry cultivates a friendship with Draco Malfoy, avoids the unreliable Dumbledore, and adopts the harshly cynical but coldly sane, non-stuttering, sense-of-doom-inspiring Professor Quirrel as his mentor. Worried about becoming bad? Yes, but a secret dark side can be so convenient.... The sensibility here is very much "Ender's Game" on steroids. The alternate Harry in this alternate Potterverse stand on their own for the first dozen chapters. But you really won't get the jokes if you haven't read the original Potter books or at least seen the movies. This fanfiction is the reason I read the original Potter stories. With those behind me, I love this story even more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alliana Vivares

    Alright, my first complaint is that it should warn readers that it contains sensitive issues. I almost choked on the chocolate I've been eating when I read Draco's nonchalant threat of rape. I mean, hello? Isn't he still eleven? And okay, maybe there are lots of open-minded eleven-year-olds in the world but saying that to an almost complete stranger is too much! Harry was very close to being bad here; it made me wonder what that idiot Petunia had been teaching him. He is rude to his elders, whic Alright, my first complaint is that it should warn readers that it contains sensitive issues. I almost choked on the chocolate I've been eating when I read Draco's nonchalant threat of rape. I mean, hello? Isn't he still eleven? And okay, maybe there are lots of open-minded eleven-year-olds in the world but saying that to an almost complete stranger is too much! Harry was very close to being bad here; it made me wonder what that idiot Petunia had been teaching him. He is rude to his elders, which I can probably ignore, but the way he can be cruel is... argh. Maybe Voldie has the right idea in wanting to kill him. This Harry can die many times over. Poor Neville. He'll end up being a snivelling (sorry Snape) coward. Then again maybe not. I didn't finish this since I got fed up by the time Harry was forcing Dumbledore into making Snape nice. I can understand this particular manipulation; still, I didn't want to stick around for more. I had such high hopes. The beginning was spectacular. Draco and Harry's first meeting was LOL. I would've rated this one but I did find it amusing at the beginning.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jayesh

    Eliezer has completely turned the story around with a fabulous mixture of real science and JKRverse. The book is peppered with real life use of rationality , Bayesian Logic and psychology. It’s quite a learning experience, especially if you look up the bits you don’t understand.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nente

    Update 2: I must seem to be fixated on Yudkowsky, but the fact is several of my good friends are quite his champions and won't let me forget how much I disliked his writings... The other day I took the time to read the previously skipped "omake" sections and want to comment on that, especially on the Council of Elrond one. It makes some points of my dislike blindingly clear. Briefly, Yudkowsky obviously conflates conventional morality/"goodness" with weakness - both of character and of reason - w Update 2: I must seem to be fixated on Yudkowsky, but the fact is several of my good friends are quite his champions and won't let me forget how much I disliked his writings... The other day I took the time to read the previously skipped "omake" sections and want to comment on that, especially on the Council of Elrond one. It makes some points of my dislike blindingly clear. Briefly, Yudkowsky obviously conflates conventional morality/"goodness" with weakness - both of character and of reason - which makes it unsurprising that the only really rational people in his writings are the villains. This is why Dumbledore is made out to be a bumbling fool; Gandalf is the same in Yudkowsky's perception. The only rational outlook belongs to Sauron, and for some strange reason is transmitted to whoever is wearing the Ruling Ring. So after having explained to us that all the ways and means discussed in the original Tolkien canon are no good, Yudkowsky then has the gall to stop his narrative at the place where the alternative is put forward. How clever! His villains have no trouble understanding the good people, because they're so rational, and are capable of calculating all the possible outcomes and providing for them in his plans. And here's the other point: I don't know about all those supernatural people (Sauron and Gandalf are that, after all), but as to real humans, we don't have the calculating capacity to predict all outcomes and need something to simplify the overwhelming complexity of life, reducing it to something we can deal with. Even taking no notice of the social convention with its underlying reasons of preservation of society as a whole, morality is useful as one such heuristic: it puts some paths completely out of consideration, letting us concentrate on a fewer number which we may be capable of assessing. So if you want to make better calculations, morality is to the good! But of course, other heuristics devised by clever Yudkowsky heroes will be better, won't they? Just you wait and see... some other time. ------------------------------------------------------ Update: I'm forced to rate this down after reading http://danluu.com/su3su2u1/hpmor/ (I do hope he doesn't mind my sharing the link), as it turns out that Yudkowsky was actually rather sloppy with his science, many of his claims are unsupported by research and/or incorrectly applied to the situation. Which is a total deal breaker. ------------------------------------------------------ Quite fun, but lots of wishful thinking by the author. I never thought I'd say this, but Rowling is way more realistic! True, she made lots of irrational mistakes, some of which are taken up in this fic (such as the purchasing power of a Galleon, stupidity of Quidditch rules, and rules of magic - Rowling just never bothered to make up a consistent set, the only thing she could do was to write "they took a lot of complicated notes on Transfiguration"). And people in Rowling's books do not act logically. But they are acting like people! And that's where this fic stumbles hugely, even more than in style of writing (I mean, in not having any). The author of this book thinks that quite a lot of people are intelligent, and everyone who is not is a nonentity; he thinks that people want to be intelligent and make the very best effort to be intelligent all the time, not just sometimes. That's not true. People don't want to be intelligent, they want to be comfortable. Selfish in a way, but they are being people. All the above is the more true for kids and teenagers. The best part of Rowling's talent is understanding children and recreating them faithfully. Clever or silly, obedient or obnoxious, trying to be grown-up even - they are all true to life. You won't find any of that here. And, yeah, lots of people've already commented on this: this version of Harry is totally intellectually Mary Sue.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This is an enormous fan fic version of the first book in the Harry Potter series, rewritten portraying Harry as a hyperrationalist. Not worth five stars as a work of fiction per se, but fascinating enough to get bumped up to amazing because of several other factors: • Folks with mildly compulsive rationalist and/or scientific leanings often have trouble with the nonsensical goings-on of magical worlds. Occasionally Yudkowsky nails this so well that I was laughing convulsively. The author sometime This is an enormous fan fic version of the first book in the Harry Potter series, rewritten portraying Harry as a hyperrationalist. Not worth five stars as a work of fiction per se, but fascinating enough to get bumped up to amazing because of several other factors: • Folks with mildly compulsive rationalist and/or scientific leanings often have trouble with the nonsensical goings-on of magical worlds. Occasionally Yudkowsky nails this so well that I was laughing convulsively. The author sometimes over-indulged in this, and very often got too preachy about aspects of the world that aren't perfect, which is probably the biggest flaw here as a work of fiction. Sadly, folks that already know what the fundamental attribution error is, or disdain television news because they understand the availability cascade, and can discuss Kahnemann's Stanovich's System 1 and System 2 at length — well, the choir can get tired of the preaching. And the folks that don't already know that stuff are unlikely to suddenly find the lectures worthwhile, because they really interfere with the flow of the novel. If you enjoyed Rowling's original series, and have at least a passing familiarity with some of that nonsense I just listed, you should take a gander at this. • Dark, dark, dark. Rowling's book is targeted at young adults — or younger, actually. Yudkowsky's Harry thinks Ron Weasley is too dumb to waste time from day one, so we quickly learn that Harry doesn't tolerate fools. The author seriously engages the question of whether Rowling's bad guys actually have sensible grievances, but are perhaps simply more realistic about moral complexity, as Harry sometimes (but not always) is. Thus, Draco Malfoy becomes a very major character. One of my biggest peeves with most fantasy is the characters go through life-threatening situations yet seldom suffer. Yes, Rowling killed some secondary characters, and kinda killed one major character, but too little too late, really. "What part of suicide mission didn't you understand?" is a line I keep hoping to hear, and I'm happy to say Yudkowsky seems inclined to address that — although you might not enjoy some of the consequences. • Startlingly good characterizations. Harry becomes in many ways a more complex and layered persona than in the original, and Yudkowsky's Draco is far, far more interesting than one would expect. The adults benefit a little from examining their reactions to the more nuanced Harry, but suffer by being confronted by a child with the mind and experiences that no child could reasonably have attained. The exaggeration of Harry's abilities actually illuminates a trope that is too common: by privileging a character with knowledge and skills far beyond what a reasonable person could anticipate, those others can too easily be portrayed as idiots. But this is itself unreasonable — expecting children to be merely children is rational for humans, with their limited cognitive capacity. Stanovich's subconscious System 1 thinking is an evolutionary adaptation that lets us think more efficiently, albeit at the expense of accuracy. Anyone constantly trying to use System 2 ratiocination to overcome the cognitive traps evolution which has planted in our brains will suffer persistent ego depletion, and won't be able to function. • There are some plot developments here that are much more intriguing that what I remember from the canonical series. Probably the best is the long-term project that Harry convinces Draco to address with respect to House Slytherin, which swaps out Rawling's simplistic social world and puts in a much more nuanced and realistic one. This is like an insightful cover version of a great song (like William Shatner's punked up version of Pulp's "Common People"); it adds something new without detracting from the original. If you are interested in seeing how the Harry Potter series can be subverted, converted, diverted and perverted into something delightfully new, assuming you hit the target audience criteria, then check it out. Oh — this isn't in print or published; it is effectively an on-line ebook. Aim your ebook reader or web browser at http://hpmor.com Oh, and it has nothing at all to do with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbdvo...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Frank

    If you are a geek, you will most likely enjoy this book far more than the actual Harry Potter series. This is especially true if you're a fan of smart characters who don't make stupid decisions that leave you screaming at the author (I always get this unbelieving look in my eyes when, in the first movie, Harry keeps leaving his invisibility cloak on the ground in random places.) Also, this is the book that sparked my interest in science and rationality. So there's that, too. I've always considered If you are a geek, you will most likely enjoy this book far more than the actual Harry Potter series. This is especially true if you're a fan of smart characters who don't make stupid decisions that leave you screaming at the author (I always get this unbelieving look in my eyes when, in the first movie, Harry keeps leaving his invisibility cloak on the ground in random places.) Also, this is the book that sparked my interest in science and rationality. So there's that, too. I've always considered The Hitchhiker's Guide to be my favorite fictional book, but this gives it a pretty good run for its money.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Harry Potter + science + philosophy = slightly mind boggling + very entertaining All of the above is true. However, whether or not I have truly read this fan fiction is a different question. In one sense, I have read it. In another, I have not. The reason for my discontinuity can easily be explained. I have read all of this work that exists up to this point in time. However, this book is far from complete. In any case, though, I will accept that I have "read" this book because I can't be "current Harry Potter + science + philosophy = slightly mind boggling + very entertaining All of the above is true. However, whether or not I have truly read this fan fiction is a different question. In one sense, I have read it. In another, I have not. The reason for my discontinuity can easily be explained. I have read all of this work that exists up to this point in time. However, this book is far from complete. In any case, though, I will accept that I have "read" this book because I can't be "currently-reading" something that is not available to be read by any members of the public. On a different note (or, well, tone...) I love this, I really do. When I read this fan fiction I can accomplish two of my favorite things at the same time: reading Harry Potter and learning. In addition, if I hear anyone say that fan fiction is horrible garbage written by uneducated idiots (not that I've heard this exact phrasing before or even expect to in the future), I'll tell them to read this one. I'm sure it would be amusing to see their expressions once they actually try to read it. For one thing, it takes a ton of brain power to actually understand everything that goes on. In addition, this is definitely not a typical Harry Potter fan fiction. I would just love to see the amazement/bewilderment on their faces. Now that I really think of it, I imagine their expression would mirror one of Ron Weasley's/ Rupert Grint's faces in the Harry Potter movies. (I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Okay, so this gets tricky. The first, say, ten-fifteen chapters were AMAZING. I was cracking up (I snorted my soda at pretty much the same times Harry hacked up his Comed-Tea) at the many absolutely hysterical moments that come up when Harry is a complete brilliant jerk with negligible people skills (he has them in theory- probably because he read about them- and he can manipulate, but otherwise...). Then, by about chapter 15 (maybe not til chapter 20) I just started getting bored. The writing wa Okay, so this gets tricky. The first, say, ten-fifteen chapters were AMAZING. I was cracking up (I snorted my soda at pretty much the same times Harry hacked up his Comed-Tea) at the many absolutely hysterical moments that come up when Harry is a complete brilliant jerk with negligible people skills (he has them in theory- probably because he read about them- and he can manipulate, but otherwise...). Then, by about chapter 15 (maybe not til chapter 20) I just started getting bored. The writing was getting repetitive, Harry's character turned into an unrealistic combo of jerk and saint, and he just seemed, in general, like an author insert. Don't get me wrong- I'm up to chapter 30 and still reading. But it's lost a LOT. Honestly, at least two of those stars are for the absolutely PRICELESS moments (Comed-Tea, especially with Draco; "I had a pet rock. It died."; 99% of the Harry-McGonagall scenes in the beginning). The problem is that the number of them seems to be inversely related to the chapter number, which means that it's just getting heavier and dryer. This review doesn't look like it matches with a 4 star rating, but it does, in this weird mental calculation in my head. I think it's worth a shot- pretty much any sci-fi geek will at least get a mild kick out of the first couple of chapters. It will take a die-hard rationalist who doesn't mind being lectured by Harry Sues to keep going and completely enjoy it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Faysal Subhani

    Simply Brilliant. Arguably one of the best books I have read so far. Definitely better than the original Harry Potter itself. It's not meant to be a spoof, but an espousal of the author's philosophy of rationality. This book is so realistic, even though it's based on magic. It makes you reflect on life. Above all, it keeps you guessing till the very end because the author refuses to categorize characters in the book as being good or evil. And the best part is, the book is free to download from h Simply Brilliant. Arguably one of the best books I have read so far. Definitely better than the original Harry Potter itself. It's not meant to be a spoof, but an espousal of the author's philosophy of rationality. This book is so realistic, even though it's based on magic. It makes you reflect on life. Above all, it keeps you guessing till the very end because the author refuses to categorize characters in the book as being good or evil. And the best part is, the book is free to download from hpmor.com and is still being written (the author releases a new chapter each month)!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although I think it's rather well-written for a fanfic (not quite good enough for a novel), Harry was too Mary Sue-ish. The main example of this is when 11 year old Harry creates a human Patronus that literally kills Dementors. There is also a bit too much Dumbledore and Ron bashing for my tastes, plus Harry is extremely condescending.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrej Karpathy

    Wonderful alternate Harry Potter timeline story. In many aspects I prefer it to the "real" Harry Potter books. It is kind of like hard sci-fi, but in Harry Potter universe. It starts strong, then drags a bit for a while, but then it ends very strong. Very enjoyable read overall!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adam Smith

    At the time of this review the story is 103 chapters, and counting, long (longer than the actual books), and still within the timeframe of the first book. Set to end March 2015. An alternate world where the role of Harry Potter is played by a somewhat sociopathic Sheldon Cooper. Instead of marrying the repugnant mr. Dursley, Harry's aunt Petunia married a respected physicist resulting in Harry being raised in a loving environment where knowledge is praised and making the most of your life an acce At the time of this review the story is 103 chapters, and counting, long (longer than the actual books), and still within the timeframe of the first book. Set to end March 2015. An alternate world where the role of Harry Potter is played by a somewhat sociopathic Sheldon Cooper. Instead of marrying the repugnant mr. Dursley, Harry's aunt Petunia married a respected physicist resulting in Harry being raised in a loving environment where knowledge is praised and making the most of your life an acceptable goal. Harry approaches the wizarding world armed with the best weapons logic can provide; it's not long before Harry's confusing concepts of science and rationality turn the wizarding world upside down. This monster of a fanfic is brilliant; in terms of sheer size and detail. The author has taken god knows how long applying scientific principles to the whimsical world of Harry Potter. Harry spends a good deal of time holding his head as the rules of the universe turn against him (apparently, the world does really want you to say 'wingardium leviousa'). Throughout the 85 chapters I've read so far, there have only been a few occasions where I've been pulled out of the story (such as when Harry starts preaching atheism to Dumbledore for an unbearably lengthy time) and only one real example of someone acting out of character (with Goyle pausing to question Quirrel's martial arts skills before attacking). Now, I'm not sure if this story has improved my rationalizing skills or not, but it is definitely worth reading in it's entirety. It's fun to see how a reasonable person would deal with the inconsistencies in the Potterverse, even if the scientific theories do come across as a little dense in some places. Looking forward to seeing where this story goes from here. Update to chapter 103: This is the second time I have read to completion. The ending of the story is scheduled to go live in mid-February, I look forward to reading it. This story is still epic. It does take a serious dark turn between where I last finished and this point. I can't wait to see how it'll end. ***Reading Challenge 2015: A book with more than 500 pages***

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    A fun take on the Potterverse from someone obsessed with all the ways that humans fail to behave in ways that make sense - for a rather strict meaning of "make sense". Leaving aside the usual fights over the legitimacy of fanfic in general, the big question is how much Yudkowsky's Potter is an idealized author stand-in (a "Mary Sue", or "Marty Stu" in the parlance). My answer: Quite a lot, but not fatally. On the minus side, this Harry Potter talks and thinks quite a lot like someone in his late A fun take on the Potterverse from someone obsessed with all the ways that humans fail to behave in ways that make sense - for a rather strict meaning of "make sense". Leaving aside the usual fights over the legitimacy of fanfic in general, the big question is how much Yudkowsky's Potter is an idealized author stand-in (a "Mary Sue", or "Marty Stu" in the parlance). My answer: Quite a lot, but not fatally. On the minus side, this Harry Potter talks and thinks quite a lot like someone in his late twenties with a lot of education and an obsession with science and rationality. On the plus side, the entire point of the book is to inject someone who is aware of the flaws and fallacies in most human thinking and see what havoc it plays with the Potterverse. E.g. On his first encounter with Quidditch, Harry immediately observes that the Seekers are a stupid wild card that ruins the rest of the game. His relationships with the Slytherins (and really with almost everyone except Hermione and Ron) are much more complex and interesting than the originals. The biggest failing is the plot. With over 700 pages Yudkowsky could have brought something to a close, but spends so much time on the various scheming and counter-scheming among virtually all the characters that he never resolves even the short term questions. He probably intended to write more (and may have, but I haven't come across it) but never got to it. Forgivable, as far as I'm concerned. How many people can churn out a serviceable 700 pages even if it doesn't finish?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric Herboso

    Not only is this the best fanfiction I've ever read, it is among my favorite novels of all time, and so far I've only been able to read up to chapter 85. This is a reimagining of the canonical novels of Harry Potter where the main character is extremely rational. Although he is a preteen, this version of Harry Potter has a mind on par with an extremely gifted 18 year old, and it shows. His nemesis, Voldemort, is similarly increased in intelligence by a dramatic amount. The Tom Riddle of this fanf Not only is this the best fanfiction I've ever read, it is among my favorite novels of all time, and so far I've only been able to read up to chapter 85. This is a reimagining of the canonical novels of Harry Potter where the main character is extremely rational. Although he is a preteen, this version of Harry Potter has a mind on par with an extremely gifted 18 year old, and it shows. His nemesis, Voldemort, is similarly increased in intelligence by a dramatic amount. The Tom Riddle of this fanfic really knows what he's doing, and is the perfect villain to go against this genius Harry. The author started a little slow in the first few chapters -- at the moment, he is rewriting them to fix this problem. But once you get past the first half dozen chapters, this novel just gets better and better and better. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review, the novel is not yet finished (only 85 chapters are so far published), so you might want to postpone reading this until a finalized text is fully finished. On the other hand, it is worth reading now, even unfinished, just because it is that damn good. The world of HPMOR is written in the hard fantasy genre -- this is fantasy, like Rowling's HP, but instead of random fantastical elements like most fantasy novels have, HPMOR uses hard rational rules for the universe of Harry Potter, and actually spends a good deal of time during the story explicating how the world is the way that it is. If you like the Harry Potter universe, but would love to see what the world would look like if both Voldemort and Harry were much, much, much smarter, then you will love this book. I highly recommend it. Very highly recommend it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I will keep this review brief and to the point. First off, all the negative reviews come from people who are either too stupid to understand it or are too in love with the Potterverse to accept something better. Keep that in mind. Written with a magical version of Ender Wiggin, Harry Potter is a child genius who is skilled in the ways of science and (Yudkowsky's brand of) rationality. Naturally, Eliezer toys with all the loopholes of Rowling's original works, and adds far more depth to the chara I will keep this review brief and to the point. First off, all the negative reviews come from people who are either too stupid to understand it or are too in love with the Potterverse to accept something better. Keep that in mind. Written with a magical version of Ender Wiggin, Harry Potter is a child genius who is skilled in the ways of science and (Yudkowsky's brand of) rationality. Naturally, Eliezer toys with all the loopholes of Rowling's original works, and adds far more depth to the characters and plot. It's hard to explain or summarize, not being a genius myself, but I can tell you that it is worth every second of reading. If you need to kill an hour, or if you want to lose yourself in a world of sense and reason, then this is the story for you. WARNINGS: The story rips the original books apart with how simple and childish the plots and characters were. If you are a true disciple of the original series, you won't like this, because you won't want to admit how much better it is. Also, infodumps. Lots of them. But they will make you smarter, so grit your teeth and trudge through. Lots of plot twists and bizarre turns, but Eliezer has a plan for how everything will turn out, so don't worry about loose ends. HPMoR is a crossroads. Choose the right path, and you become a smarter, more logical person. Choose the wrong path, and you will remain unenlightened. Which path to take depends on who you are. Depending on the outcome, I will know whether or not you are a member of the Bayesian Conspiracy. Alright, my praise is done. Time to get back to reading... I forgot to mention - this story never ends.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nemo

    Finally finished this. I think I'll have to do another read somewhere down the line to see if I actually learned anything out of this. Cognitive psychology is not my thing, but this is the closest HP fan-fic that attempts magical realism, and I admire it for that. There are certain background story changes that I consider to be canon in the back of my head. Things like the secret of Philosopher's stone, Salazar Slytherin having taught Battle Magic, the True Patronus charm, the safety rules of Tra Finally finished this. I think I'll have to do another read somewhere down the line to see if I actually learned anything out of this. Cognitive psychology is not my thing, but this is the closest HP fan-fic that attempts magical realism, and I admire it for that. There are certain background story changes that I consider to be canon in the back of my head. Things like the secret of Philosopher's stone, Salazar Slytherin having taught Battle Magic, the True Patronus charm, the safety rules of Transfiguration, and much more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Mulligan

    Many of my friends love this book, but after giving it through ~chapter 10 I was incredibly relieved to put it down. It's truly dreadful. Every character is horrible and unpleasant. The "rationality" is mostly Harry being a smug and cruel jackass. I found no humor, and little insight.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Besha

    I read this simultaneously with Bruce Sterling's Distraction, and they’re a bit intertwined for me. They both feature male protagonists who are special by birth—Oscar Valparaiso is a clone with extrahuman abilities, Harry Potter is The Boy Who Lived And Was Then Raised To Be Rational. They both involve a lot of political maneuvering, interpersonal manipulation, and being terribly clever. They’re both quite funny. This is a web serial, reimagining JK Rowling with a single point of divergence: Petu I read this simultaneously with Bruce Sterling's Distraction, and they’re a bit intertwined for me. They both feature male protagonists who are special by birth—Oscar Valparaiso is a clone with extrahuman abilities, Harry Potter is The Boy Who Lived And Was Then Raised To Be Rational. They both involve a lot of political maneuvering, interpersonal manipulation, and being terribly clever. They’re both quite funny. This is a web serial, reimagining JK Rowling with a single point of divergence: Petunia dumps Vernon Dursley and marries an Oxford professor of biochemistry. As a result, Harry is maybe the most empirically-minded eleven-year-old ever to have lived. It’s pure wish fulfillment for any triple-digit IQ that ever read Rowling. Magic is just as irritatingly irrational as Rowling wrote it, but here we have a rational Harry to demonstrate scientifically just how irrational it is. Hermione is a cute little stand-in for the reader; her booksmarts are unmasked as a really good memory, but once Harry explains it, she takes to the scientific method immediately. Harry asks Ron what he’s for and Ron can’t answer. Snape gets schooled. Of course Harry is a Ravenclaw. Whoever designed Quidditch clearly had no grasp of game theory. There are so many inside jokes and genre-savvy asides and snippets of fanservice to enjoy—I think my favorite was the Ravenclaw girls getting all yaoi over Draco and Harry, but the Muggleborn kid waiting all his life to say “Red Five, standing by” was a close second. It’s also pure wish fulfillment for the author, and that’s why I only read the first forty-five(!) chapters. Spoilers ahead. Harry Sue (let’s be honest here) does learn Valuable Lessons from a few characters, but for the most part he’s a smug little bastard. It’s moderately irritating but the humor more than makes up for it. Things really went off the rails for me when the kids learned to cast the Patronus charm. Dumbledore brings in a caged Dementor for them to practice on, and Harry Sue’s Patronus is… wait for it… a human. Because the Dementor represents… death. So Harry Sue’s Patronus represents the ultimate triumph of Man over Death. It turns out that the author is a singularitarian who converted after the untimely death of his younger brother. So this is where I stopped reading the entire series; I don’t mind didactic fiction when it’s teaching me objectively, but when it becomes an ideological tract I’m ready to line the compost bin with it.

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