· 36 reviews · [ Harry Potter ] · by Eliezer Yudkowsky
teen · completed · 661k words · updated 4 years ago
Petunia married a biochemist, and Harry grew up reading science and science fiction. Then came the Hogwarts letter, and a world of intriguing new possibilities to exploit. And new friends, like Hermione Granger, and Professor McGonagall, and Professor Quirrell...
submitted by SufficientGravitas · updated by SufficientGravitas · approved by ficdb_admin
Nope, nope, nope. You gotta login first to review.
Likable, If Imperfect
Vadron | 2 months ago

It is a truism that HPMoR is not for everyone. It is rooted in the HP fanfiction community more than in the canon books themselves, for one thing, and that turns some people away; me, I like the idea that "Harry Potter" is turning into a loose folk-memory collection of plot-points and structures akin to Arthurian legend, where there are, to be sure, revered foundational texts, but you are perfectly within your rights to prefer some of the later, wilder apocrypha and mix and match wildly until you get something interesting. For another, the story is very much a mouthpiece for the author's philosophical and epistemological views; if you agree with those views at least broadly, it'll be nice and validating; if not, it will be as preachy as anything that has the author talking earnest about stuff with which you disagree, and that is very irritating indeed. That aside, the story has some obvious literary merit, if one is being objective. It's much better-written than the common fanfiction muck, which is already something; it is massive and complete and tightly-plotted, which is very remarkable indeed. HPMoR contains so much foreshadowing it's kind of mind-blowing upon reread, if you can stomach a reread. It has a terrifically-written villain, whether or not said villain has fuck-all to do with the original's Lord Voldemort and whether or not you think the other characters are cardboard cutouts. (They are a bit, and I say this as a fan of the story.) It has a lot of jokes that land, even if you think some of them do not. Of course, the same "fair critic not as overly concerned with E. Yudkwosky's politics as with the story's quality" perspective will also reveal some very objective flaws. The main character's improbably adult mindset is the setup of a very clever reveal… which would be much cleverer if he didn't have at least two classmates on nearly the same intellectual level. The pacing is all over the place — the story drags painfully in the middle, with the Defence Professor's "mock-battles" which even premier HPMoR fans agree go on for too fucking long. The story starts with the mission statement of teaching you rationalist techniques and theories (which is the only justification for the fairly inscrutable title), but utterly fails to… do that; the handful of times Harry uses particular rationalist techniques instead of embodying the rationalist mindset in general, he does so in not-particularly-educative, and at times actively-mistaken, ways. But overall, if what you're looking for is "a fun, cleverly-plotted anti-deathist fantasy, with a shameless wish-fulfillment main character", as opposed to "the freaking Bible", then you'll like this. If you're not too keen on preference-utilitarianism-based anti-deathism, if a lovable smartass isn't your idea of a wish-fulfillment main character, or if you really really cannot bear a story based on the barebones of the Harry Potter universe but making no attempt to feel like canon — then you probably should give it a pass.

1 MultiplyByZer0
Not for me.
Rapacity0 | 4 months ago

The characters have the same names as the books but they just aren't the same. Feels like they Harry is some kind of character metagaming in d&D instead of playing along with the occasional inconsistencies or a college professor not a child

1 Dina-M
Conceptually I like it. In practice, it's just okay. Though worth a shot.
Reichbane | 6 months ago
1 Gooey
Great, couldn't stop reading!
zeldagam3r | 7 months ago

I couldn't put it down after I started it. This is a great fan fiction and I recommend it to anyone that likes Harry Potter. It shows a story where Harry is smarter, and knows a lot more about science than in the original.

1 SINCOS
Interesting premise, introduced me to Worm, might not be worth reading
DuskStar | 8 months ago *

There are better ways to get into Rationality if you're interested in that, and better fics out there if you aren't. It's not, strictly speaking, bad... But the author has never really read HP or watched the movies, and it kind of shows. That being said, it was enjoyable - and for many, it'll fall heavily into the "love" category. Also IMO too much philosophical tail chasing. Again it makes sense (the author is well known for this, in non-fanfiction land) but not what everyone is looking for in their fic. If I want that, I'll go read the sequences again ;)

4 error_cascade Gooey NewVeteran Dina-M
A story that tries so hard to be clever that it loops all the way back around to being stupid instead
Talon of Anathrax | 8 months ago

This isn't Harry Potter fanfiction: the author has little knowledge of HP, it changes everyone's character and motivations, and it rewrites the setting from the ground up. However, it could have been a decent story. Instead, the author's immense ego drags the story down fast. It tries so hard to be clever and thought-provoking that characters become author mouthpieces instead of actual characters with a personality, and plot becomes nonsensical instead of intricate.

3 Gooey error_cascade Dina-M
Specific Quibbles
error_cascade | 8 months ago

{SPOILER ALERT} I think general reviews of this fic have been clobbered to death on other corners of the internet, so I'm going to focus on three specific quibbles. One, the author doesn't really understand the lore he's trying so hard to deconstruct. A significant amount of plot points rest on Harry's invention of partial transfiguration, the thing that was never invented before. Problem is, partial transfiguration is canon; everyone accidentally does partial transfiguration when learning, and it's also canon in Victor Krum's shark-head transfiguration. Little details, but it's hard to take someone seriously when they critique irrational world-building if they're mixing up details. I think the problem with this fic, but not all rational fic, is that there's no attempt to meet canon where it's at. There is lots of interesting meta floating around about how the Potterverse's weird contradictions could be explained by the lack of innovation magic causes. To an extent, that's addressed in the text but it's sort of undermined by how determined the author is to show that Harry Potter is just plain better done his way. The third quibble is the subject of Hermione. I honestly don't think the author understands that Hermione has a ruthless side. Reading Hermione is like reading an obsolete character, as she has the inner monologue of an 11 year old while Harry has the inner monologue of an emotionally erratic university professor. That all aside, it's a fun enough read if you can ignore the myriad of ways it could be just a little bit better.

1 Dina-M
Your mileage may vary
NewVeteran | 8 months ago

When this review was written, there were twelve four- and five-star reviews, eleven one- and two-star reviews, and zero three-star reviews. I think that's a pretty fair summary of the reactions to HPMOR in general. Readers tend to either love it to death or hate it with a fiery passion, with not a whole lot in between. Personally, I'm in the "love it to death" category. HPMOR was my introduction to the world of fanfiction, and it's been hard to find other fics that stand out quite as much as this one does. It was uncommonly fun to read, and while it often strays from canon, the interesting pieces of magic-system-building ("DO NOT MESS WITH TIME") and the numerous stealth references made it hard to put down. Certainly, it has its flaws, as many others have pointed out in other reviews--it's far from a a perfect story. However, it's one that I enjoyed reading immensely, and despite its flaws, it's still one of my overall favorites. I'm going to strongly recommend reading HPMOR, but not because I think you're necessarily going to like it. There's a fair chance that you're going to *dislike* it. I'm recommending it because if you just so happen to be in the "love it" category, this is a story you definitely won't want to miss out on. As the title of this review implies, "Your Mileage May Vary" is probably the most apt summary of HPMOR I can offer. If you like it, read it; if you don't, that will become obvious very early on, and you can drop it and move on to something that's more your style.

5 error_cascade propensity Starfox5 DreamOfMystery SufficientGravitas
A great premise, destroyed by the author's ego
elfensky | 8 months ago *

The story was one of the first to introduce "Rationality" as a topic or perhaps even genre, and it deserves praise for it. The premise of approaching and quantifying magic using the scientific method was at the time new and exciting. However, the soon to be discovered inconsistencies, author's behavior and many incorrect assumptions ruin it. In conclusion, I advise to read "A Study in Magic" by Books of Change instead.

2 nilpotent Veilion
Way too many scientific inaccuracies for a fic that claims to be about science
anathea | 8 months ago *

If you like the idea of this fic, read "Hermione Granger and the Perfectly Reasonable Explanation" instead. It's heavily inspired by HPMOR but fixes a lot of the characterization and plotting issues (although it sadly seems to be abandoned). As someone with a science background, I found this fic extremely hard to read. Normally I don't mind scientific inaccuracies at all, since obviously Harry Potter is a world of magic, and of course there will be scientific inaccuracies. But the author puts too much stress on how scientific this fic is, and I think really misrepresents what science is about. I'm not in the field of statistics, but I imagine it's even harder to read if you are, since the author makes liberal use of statistical concepts in a very misleading way. I think I would've enjoyed this fic a lot more if it weren't supposed to be the basis for an entire scientific movement :/ Putting the science aside, I also found the characterizations really strange, in a way that made the fic hard to read. The author also tends to go on for way too long about some things. I think the fic could really be improved by a thorough edit that cut the length maybe in half. I think I would enjoy reading that.

2 error_cascade nilpotent
The Emperor's New Clothes in fic form
Farla | 8 months ago

If you want to get an idea of exactly why such bad things happen in the LessWrong sphere despite so much of what they talk about being noble and so many of the people seeming genuinely decent, reading this is informative. If you want fanfic, rationality, or anything else, not so much. Ayn Rand once wrote a screed on how cats must have objective value because she liked them. This is like that, but about much more awful opinions than kitty-cats being cute.

2 vsw211 Dina-M
NOT for the unwashed masses
enlightened_atheist | 8 months ago *

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand HPMOR. The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical reader’s head. There’s also Harry’s rational outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation - his personal philosophy draws heavily from Bayesian epistemology, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realise that they’re not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike HPMOR truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn’t appreciate, for instance, the humour in Harry’s existential catchphrase “I notice that I am confused”, which itself is a cryptic allusion to humanity's instinctual yearning for enlightenment. I’m smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Eliezer Yudkowsky’s genius wit unfolds itself on their screens. What fools.. how I pity them. 😂

12 nilpotent ficdb_admin Rapacity0 AdmiralAkbar1 MultiplyByZer0 GrindelwaldDidNothingWrong elfensky lauert nomnom Gooey propensity error_cascade
It's just not good.
nilpotent | 8 months ago

I was initially very taken with the premise: A Harry Potter who was raised in a scientific household applies the scientific method to magic. It sounded great! And if that's what this fic was, it would probably be great. But that's not what this fic is. "Harry", in this story, is a very poorly disguised avatar of the story's author. Not only does he not act anything like canon!Harry, he doesn't even act like an eleven-year-old. Even worse, there's very little actual science in this story, and what little is there is concentrated in the earlier chapters. Eventually, this story just turns into a tract for the author's singularity cult. The quality of this story should have been apparent from the very premise underlying Harry's home situation: Instead of living with Petunia and Vernon, he lives with Petunia and her AU husband, a scientist. And why is Petunia married to a scientist? Because she got some beauty potion from Lily and made him fall in love with her. Which he apparently wouldn't have done if she wasn't magically beautiful. Right. Because that's just sooooo rational.

9 Gooey Farla ManicInsomniac nomnom anathea error_cascade Dina-M GMantis Rapacity0
An extended author tract, but with some good ideas.
Lysianda | 8 months ago *

Large sections are author tracts. These sections, several of which are often based on rather dubious research, detract significantly from a story which is otherwise fairly decent. However, the author's love of his own voice and his belief in his own brilliance undermine the fic.

5 nilpotent nomnom Gooey anathea error_cascade
Bogged down in science but worth a read
GrindelwaldDidNothingWrong | 8 months ago *

HPMOR gets a lot of hate, some of which I think is unwarranted. It has a lot of ideas original to the fandom, plenty of funny bits, and the quality of writing is above average when it comes to fanfic. It's also overly long (661k words for Harry's first year!) mostly because of Harry getting on his soapbox entirely too often.

This isn't a fanfic.
Dina-M | 8 months ago

It's a much-too-long author's tract disguised as a fanfic.

6 Farla nilpotent anathea Rapacity0 Gooey Lysianda
Many flaws, quite a few hits. Do the good parts outweight the bad ones? One thing is for certain: This story really set itself apart from the rest.
Gooey | 9 months ago

I love what it tried to do. I hate how it did it. This story introduced me to rationality in a way that I'd never seen before and I realized quite a few useful things. I'd say I came out better from it, so it was very worth the read. As an introduction to a way of thinking, it serves its purpose. But as a story? It fails. Really glad I read it, but I'm definitively never reading it again, if you get what I'm trying to say.

7 Lysianda ficdb_admin God_Of_Donuts SufficientGravitas nilpotent anathea error_cascade
Love it or hate it.
effulgent_dawn | 9 months ago

Honestly this reads more like a thought experiment than a fleshed out story. I made it to chapter 43 before giving up since so many others recommended it to me. I can understand why others would enjoy this type of fanfiction, but it's not for me.

3 ficdb_admin nilpotent Dina-M
Well written, captivating plot
Entity | 10 months ago

I find this story entertaining, fun and well thought out. There are some minor issues (at the very end) but that is complaining at a level that most fiction does not even reach.

1 ficdb_admin
If you hate Harry Potter, you will love this fanfiction
vdhawkin | 10 months ago

MoR reads like someone preaching to their choir about why everything in Harry Potter was done wrong. I guess there might be people out there who seek this kind of story, but it's not for me. I've tried multiple time to read it, but could never get past a few of the initial chapters. The "story" is drab and is a mess of clichés, ooc characters and bashing thinly disguised as fiction.

7 anathea Lysianda error_cascade Gooey Dina-M Farla nilpotent
Canonical
rangerscience | 10 months ago

The story that started the Rationalist sub-genre.

1 ficdb_admin
It's a mess, a mess that reads well, a mess with some funny moments, few good ideas, but in the end still a mess and a bad fic.
Sataniel | 10 months ago

MoR was my first HP fanfic and in the beginning, I was quite fond of it - then I started thinking more about it. It's more preaching than an actual story, and it does that in the stupid manner as we get eleven years old Harry being super-genius and thinking about things nobody else did before. Additionally, for all his science-talk Yudkowsky screwed up middle school level biology. And then tried to lamely explain his mistake away as intended. And after preaching about his villains. and characters in general, being rational and intelligent he has Voldemort infodumping his whole plan to Harry at the end of the story. Most of the characters are barely outlined, despite the fics length, due to it being mostly pointless filler. Speaking of characters, eleven years olds act, speak, have power-levels, etc. unfitting for their age - this should never be first year story, but I guess LessWrong wanted to prove that his rational Harry could solve everything with the power of the rationality in one year. Though in the end he solved it with a power of deus ex machina plan that puts canon to shame with its deus ex machinness. It's a mess, a mess that reads well, a mess with some funny moments, few good ideas, but in the end still a mess and a bad fic.

11 error_cascade God_Of_Donuts Lysianda nilpotent Murav Gooey effulgent_dawn ficdb_admin nomnom Abnormalindian Dina-M
Just not for me
Nemrut | 10 months ago

I tried this twice with years between the attempts and both times I couldn't get more than 20 or so chapters in. It might just be a case of not for me but the outright disdain the story has for Harry Potter made it difficult to enjoy. I also wasn't very fond of its take on various characters, not to mention the rationality aspects that have, in my experience, dragged every story down they have been used in so far. Just a lot of explaining and lecturing and not enough from its characters on a personal or emotional level for me. Simply felt bored and put off for the most part. Probably for people who are really into that but a safe pass for everyone else. At the very least, it is very much a story not for me.

3 nilpotent Dina-M ficdb_admin
Rationality made digestible, flawed yet epic in nature
ficdb_admin | 10 months ago