Warning: As per the official spoiler policy, the following discussion may contain unmarked spoilers for up to the current chapter of the Methods of Rationality. Proceed at your own risk.

Assume HPMOR was written by a super-intelligence implementing the CEV of Eliezer Yudkowsky and assorted literary critics. What would it have written differently?

... is what I want to know, but that's hard to answer. So here's an easier question:

In what ways do you think Eliezer's characterisations/world-building/plot-fu are sub-optimal? <optional> How could they be made less sub-optimal? </optional>

(My own ideas are in the comments.)

To put it another way... Assume a group of intrepid fanfic writers in the late 2020s are planning to write a reboot. What parts of Eliezer's story do you think they should tweak?

And just to make sure we're all on the same page: Eliezer isn't going to go back and change anything he's written to bring it in line with anything suggested here. This is purely an "Ah, just consider the possibilities!" thread.

... which means that we can safely suggest drastic rewrites encompassing 30 chapters or something. Or change fundamental facts about the world.

(Exercise due restraint on this one. Getting rid of the Ministry/the Noble Houses/blood purism would probably turn the story into something completely different; this isn't what we're trying to do here.)

With that, let the nit-picking begin!! 

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Since 27/Jan Fanfiction.net disabled every single html link from the user profile page -- which means all those fanarts, etc, the links to the ePub and MOBI versions and so forth.

Once again fanfiction.net screws its members.

Was anyone prudent enough to save all those links? We must figure out some other location to gather them all.

Fixed. All links now moved to HPMOR.com.

I just checked my profile, and the links are all still clickable in the edit box, so they are not lost - Eliezer can get at them.
One of you did PM him as soon as this happened, right?

To start with.... I'd recommend raising every character's age by a few years. (I think this is a 'love-it-or-hate-it' idea, but I have no clue how prevalent either of these viewpoints are... How many people think that the first-years really act like eleven-year-olds? And I'm not just talking about Harry...)

And, consequently, Hogwarts now has only four years.

Also, I'm clueless about the math, but... I seem to remember reading in a discussion thread that 1000 students in Hogwarts implies a total wizarding population the size of a small town. So I'd cram in 4000 students into the 4 years of Hogwarts. (We're gonna need TAs now, but that doesn't change anything fundamental.) Unless... The population is still too small, in which case... I suppose you could keep the 1000 students and have other wizarding schools.

And I'd suggest compressing the first four chapters into one.

ETA: Also, partial transfiguration. Harry shouldn't get it right that quickly.

ETA: Also, partial transfiguration. Harry shouldn't get it right that quickly.

I think the point of that was partial transfiguration was a low hanging fruit that could be done fairly easily, but only if you had the right mindset. Other than having to hold timelessness in his head, it's not any harder than regular transfiguration.

Come to think of it, you're right. I'd been approaching it from the "hero must struggle for several episodes to get awesome powers" angle, but Eliezer was obviously writing it to demonstrate the opposite. (Although Harry being able to hold timelessness in his head with half an hour of trying is still Marty Stu-ish.)
No one else has ever tried it. It might not be that hard once you know what it is.
He really should have been able to do it with billiard-ball atoms. Just define "the left half of the brick" as an object. It doesn't make any sense that you can transfigure a bicycle but not the front wheel of that bicycle.. Also, as someone on TV Tropes pointed out, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is set in 1991, but Julian Barbour's book The End of Time was published in 1999 and his research paper directly addressing the subject was published in 1994.

More than removing the first 3 years of Hogwarts, the tempo of MoR could be changed so that we don't have all those events happening during Harry's first year. There is time pressure regarding the fact that DADA teachers aren't supposed to last more than one year, but something could have been done to circumvent that, and allow the events of the currently written MoR to span like 3 years of Hogwarts, with Harry being 13 or 14 when we reach the "Standfort Prison Experiment" part.

I do think that the first chapters are specially good with a young (11 yo) Harry, and that having him a teenager when he discovers about magic would ruin them. It would also make the whole Harry-Draco relationship completely different - their relationship in MoR is very interesting, but it wouldn't have felt realistic for it to happen with a teenager Draco, while it is realistic with a still childish Draco.

From the Harry Potter Wiki: "Riddle used his wand at that time to place a curse on the job, causing its occupant to suffer some misfortune that would drive them from the job in a year or less. " We also know that canon!Lupin was just outed as a werewolf and resigned, and canon!Moody seemed fine when he got out of the Trunk. Quirrel isn't doomed to die at the end, just to no longer be defense professor. Also, vs Ibyqrzbeg vf pbagebyyvat Dhveery, gura gur phefr zvtug abg nccyl gb uvz. So basically, Quirrel could continue to exist, but not as Defense professor.
The curse could just be removed as not plot-important.
I regret that I have only one upvote to give. Never thought of cutting the Gordian knot that way. ETA: Although to be fair to myself, I never tried to think of ways to make Quirrel last for over a year.
Gung jbhyq or n qrnq tvir-njnl, gubhtu. Naq Qhzoyrqber jbhyqa'g whfg qb abguvat sbe gjb lrnef vs ur fhfcrpgrq Ibyqrzbeg jnf grnpuvat ng uvf fpubby.
Hayrff Uneel naq Dhveery fgntr gung onggyr jvgu Ibyqrzbeg. V vzntvar Dhveery unf engure qvssrerag cynaf sbe gung, gubhtu.
Claims of "No kids act like that!" where I've personally been or known kids who act exactly like that have made me very suspicious of the general pattern. Harry probably acts just like Eliezer did, or would have if he'd already known about Bayes.
Apparently the "you bite one math teacher" incident is an exaggeration of something in Eliezer's own childhood. (At least I hope it was an exaggeration...)
That response has always annoyed me. If utter realism was a major component of what people wanted out of a story, they'd be stalking Facebook profiles instead. Or watching Pulp Fiction ad nauseam, or something. IRL a person I've never heard of might survive being struck by lightning thrice and I'd say "meh", but something like that better not happen in a story without a very good reason.
I'm puzzled by this response. If realism isn't important, what's the problem with having the Hogwarts kids acting more mature (or intelligent or whatever) than real kids that age typically do in the first place? It's just a narrative trope that marks them as exceptional and therefore interesting.
This discussion? :-)
Yeah, that's the one. ETA: Didn't remember the bizarre conclusions that discussion reached, though. Is there any indication that Eliezer thought about the sociological angle before writing this? He might have made an honest mistake about the population. Or the population might actually be much larger, Hogwarts might not be the only magical school, and the story just hasn't gotten around to telling us yet.
It seems likely that Eliezer noticed this early and possible that he kept it in mind while writing and editing later chapters. I noticed after that discussion (though maybe this is just confirmation bias on my part?) subsequent chapters started having a bit more social background that systematically favored "moderately big Magical Britain" (closer to 70,000 than 3000) and more political detail that seemed to me "more realistic" for the suggested scale. There were a lot of slightly recurring cameos by people who made fan art, for example, so that you get more of a sense that the writing works a bit like the Simpsons with a relatively gigantic cast and a more available whenever the plot requires. And then there was subtle but direct stuff like the digression into the daily lives of Auror's guarding Azkaban with discussion of their alienation, working for triple pay (why official "triple pay"? why so formal? are their wizard labor unions?), and their silent culture of tolerated bribery. It smells to me like a small department within a much larger bureaucracy, or a platoon in an army, where people in the trenches together are reasonably OK pragmatically optimizing for mutual local benefit at the expense of the more sweeping institutions.
Also, apparently there are other schools in MoR!Britain. Isn't a 70k population still too tiny to support the MoR-verse's level of social complexity?
I don't think so. I think 70K population is more than sufficient for what we observe. After all, the primary servant-class (House-Elves) isn't included in that number. The primary banking/financial class and atleast some portion of the manufacturing class is goblins, which is also not included in that number. Anything that concerns the gathering of raw non-magical material (Farming/mining/etc) can be gotten by trading with (or thieving from) the muggles. The rest: nobility, ministry employees, aurors, shopkeepers, athletes -- I think they can fit in easily in a population of some dozens thousands. Possibly even less.
I always assumed, when reading the original books, that other British magical schools existed and Hogwarts just happened to be the best of them. The society as presented simply doesn't make sense otherwise, even accounting for the fact that wizards seem to live significantly longer than Muggles and don't seem to have many more kids. It does take some handwaving (how would Hogwarts choose which magical children to send its acceptance letters to?), but not as much as fitting what looks like some pretty robust commerce and a rather heavyweight bureaucracy into a population of at most thirty thousand or so (less, if you extrapolate from class sizes).

not as much as fitting what looks like some pretty robust commerce and a rather heavyweight bureaucracy into a population of at most thirty thousand or so

I assumed that ~ 50% of wizarding adults were employed by the Ministry alone. Sounds just like the pointless bureaucracy you'd expect wizards to create.

Commerce, yes. That's much more difficult to explain. Even more difficult to explain is the existence of specialised journals like Transfiguration Weekly. You'd need a European wizarding population of ~ a million at the very least. (And I'm probably underestimating.)

More importantly, how do you extrapolate from the class sizes? How are different age groups distributed in the population? (Not knowing the math sucks.)


I always assumed, when reading the original books, that other British magical schools existed and Hogwarts just happened to be the best of them.

In Deathly Hallows, the Ministry made it mandatory for every wizarding child of school-going age to attend Hogwarts. IIRC, Lupin noted at the time that "Parents could always educate their children at home if they wished." Didn't say anything about other magical schools.

We probably shouldn't leap to the assumption that Transfiguration Weekly is a peer-reviewed journal with a large staff publishing results from multiple large laboratories. For all we know it's churned out in a basement by an amateur enthusiast, is only eight pages long on a good week and mostly consists of photographs of people's cats transfigured into household objects.

I'd forgotten about that; but then again, I formed most of my opinions regarding Potter canon when I was a teenager reading books 3 and 4. I was an adult by the time I got to Deathly Hallows, and I didn't read it too closely. I suppose Goblet of Fire could be said to imply wizarding schools are fairly rare, though; it never mentions any continental schools besides Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. The movies seem to imply that those are all-male and all-female respectively, which might in turn suggest more schools offscreen, but I don't think the books do.
I don't think the books directly suggest that there are Durmstrang girls (although they never claim that it's a unisex school), but Beauxbatons boys are mentioned, particularly in the context of the Yule Ball.
According to this, Durmstrang has girls as well.
I could be wrong here, but I definitely remember someone, maybe Hagrid, claiming early on that Hogwarts was, "the best school in magical Britain." That implies others. It's entirely possible that newer magical schools without a history of legendary wizards and a past alliance with two other prestigious schools would go largely unmentioned in the original Harry Potter.
Hogwarts was referred to on a number of occasions in canon as the "best" wizarding school in Britain. As long as it doesn't directly bear on the storyline though, I wouldn't trust J. K. Rowling to keep careful track of everything she's already written; I suspect she had different ideas at different times of whether Hogwarts was the only wizarding school in Britain.
I'm not sure about that, if anything she's put on Pottermore is to be trusted, she's written an extensive off-page history for her world. The most interesting example is what she's written about the Malfoy's. Evidently, the family made most of their money in dealing with muggles prior to the ministry instituting the laws regarding secrecy. Once it became politically favorable to distance a prominent family from muggle ties, the Malfoy's put on a strong pureblood facade that caught on after a few generations.
That sounds plausible, but not necessarily contradictory, since she may have come up with that history after writing things in earlier books which conflicted with it. She didn't seem to have outlined all the books thoroughly in advance (if she did, she certainly failed to set up elements like the Deathly Hallows very well.)
In the original books, Harry's cohort was born ten years into an extremely bloody civil war. I always assumed birth rates were extremely low for Harry's age group, which would imply that the overall population is much larger than what you'd extrapolate from class sizes. Of course, the numbers still don't work. There are 40 kids in canon!Harry's class. Even if you assume that's a tenth of the normal birthrate and the average person lives to 150, you get a wizarding population of 6,000. In MoR, class sizes are around 120 (more than half the kids are in the armies, and armies are 24 each), which is still problematic - with the generous assumptions above, you get a population of 18,000. But MoR does seem to hint there are other magical schools: Daphne at one point wonders if it's worth going to the same school as Harry just to go to the same school as everybody important, which supports the theory that there are other magic schools, but that almost everyone influential went through Hogwarts.
In that case, shouldn't we see evidence of a baby boom occurring immediately following the end of the war, probably in the form of the years after Harry's being noticeably bigger than those that came before? canon!Harry is rather unobservant, but you'd think he'd have noticed at least that.
Rule of thumb: canon!Harry notices nothing. Nothing. (Unless it's plot-relevant.) Harry never tells us anything about the younger students. Unless they happen to be called Ginny/Luna/Colin/Denis/Romilda.
For Harry to notice it would require Rowling to have thought of it. Plus, since it wasn't really plot relevant it would be something of a violation of Conservation of Detail.
I'd forgotten about that quote. For reference, it's Chapter 74.
Given that they canonically keep tabs on underage witches and wizards with magic, I suspect that they judge based on some combination of how magically promising the prospective student appears to be, what their social connections are (are they related to any highly placed individuals who graduated from Hogwarts?) and possibly some sort of affirmative action for muggle born students.
Actually the ministry has a trace spell, evidently, on the whole of magical Britain. Magical misdemeanors from underage wizards go largely unpoliced in all magical households, explaining the fact that several familys, such as the Malfoys and the Weasleys have sent children to Hogwarts who openly acknowledge having learnt spells outside of Hogwarts. You may recall, once the ministry was in Voldemort's pocket, the trace was used to track down underaged wizards not in Hogwarts. I'd always supposed Hogwarts worked in conjunction, or possibly with special permissions, from the ministry to use the trace to send letters to children who had performed slight magical acts, such as Harry phasing his cousin through the glass at the snake exhibit.

I think it's somewhat premature to talk about what could be done better before the story is complete. For starters, I'm not sure it psychologically counts as positive reinforcement of the writer writing more quickly, if one criticizes too much while still it's being written...

  • That having been said, I'd like to say that I found chapter 19 (where Harry is made to "lose") very unbelievable.
  • The relationship between battles, Quirrel points, and the wish Quirrel offered to the person out of all 7 years who'd have the highest number of Quirrel points could also have been done a bit better, I think. Right now, though the determinator is supposed to be the Quirrel points everyone was acting as if the sole determinator were the battles, and the battles of only the first year for that matter.

Lastly, I'd like to say, in order to partially counteract the opinion offered by others, that I found the Hermione-SPHEW chapters the best arc in the whole story -- far better than the Azkaban arc, far better than the armies arc.

I'm not sure it psychologically counts as positive reinforcement of the writer writing more quickly, if one criticizes too much while still it's being written...

Eliezer has said he doesn't mind this thread. (I PM'd him before creating it.)

Agree on bulleted points, but I thought the armies arc was the best by far. I sell HPMoR to my friends by saying "Ender Wiggin goes to Hogwarts!"

Ender Wiggin is just pretend-smart - as mentioned in Adam Cadre's review, his tactics tend to work by authorial fiat. I think HJPEV is much better written, where tactics are concerned.

(As a sidenote, I mentioned HPMOR in the comments to that review and got atleast one more enthusiastic reader for it. :-)

The one time I tried this, it backfired terribly. It seemed like a logical sale, but the war games don't start until quite a fair way in; meanwhile, the first ten chapters (which is what the first chapter recommends trying before giving up) don't have that sort of flavour.
Huh. I'd thought of MoR as a better version of Ender's Game before, but for some reason I didn't catch that similarity.
Agreed on nearly point, emphasis on the first, that this thread won't have a good effect on the author's progress.

Draco seemed far too easily convinced by the evidence that the decline in magic wasn't caused by muggle interbreeding, especially since the largest piece of evidence presented was based on muggle knowledge of genetics that Draco was nearly completely ignorant of. You're not going to be convinced that everything you know is wrong just because an 11-year old tells you that a bunch of allegedly smart people figured out some things which conflict with what you know, in the judgment of said 11-year-old.

At the beginning of Chapter 25, Eliezer writes about the evidence that convinced Draco:

everything Harry presents as strong evidence is in fact strong evidence - the other possibilities are improbable

This is true... but only from Harry's perspective. Harry assigns extremely high confidence to everything that muggle geneticists have figured out, and also believes that he understands the theory well enough to have high confidence in the predictions he makes using that theory. For Draco to find the same evidence equally convincing, he would also have to assign high confidence to the theory that Harry claims muggle geneticists figured out, and high confidence to Harry's ability to use the ... (read more)

My experience with confronting fellow Christians with scientific evidence is for them to bog us down into discussions about the validity of science.

Things that I would like to see coming along with the MoRverse:

Snippets of the world-as-it-is outside of Harry's story, like Alicorn's "Flashes" after Radiance. In particular, I'd really like to see more of Cedric Diggory, Draco and Luna's childhoods, the Weasley twins' first years, and the Marauders adventures as history, as well as redeemed Slytherin house and technical magical research after real engineers get their hands on it.

These could also make the Self-Awareness arc a bit less weird by personifying the bullying infrastructure.

I like the way Eliezer handles dementors as a metaphor for death, but as I consider Rowling's intentions for them as metaphors for depression, I'm realizing that that might be even more beautiful, even if Eliezer doesn't have as much to say about it.

For me, thinking of the Dementors as death AND depression is a lot of fun--the idea that they're of the same essence is very cool to toss around. Which in turn makes the question of what patronuses are more tangled and intriguing... Really, every attempt I make at reconciling the two worlds makes every facet of both more interesting! :)

There's a TVTropes discussion on this: Harry Potter Headscratchers

I might as well repeat the ones I put on there.

Shouldn't it be Harry Potter-Evans-Verres and the Methods of Rationality?

Why is Harry so death averse? He claims to be a preference utilitarian, but the sorting hat had no desire to live, yet Harry didn't want it to die.

Why does Harry reject the idea of Horcruxes? You can't save more than half the population, so it's hardly a permanent solution, but you could kill half of the people right before they die, and save the other half. This would work as a hold-over until Harry becomes God. Given my understanding of canon, this wouldn't actually work, but Harry wouldn't have no that yet.

In what way can a crime that hinges on an eleven-year-old boy be considered "the perfect crime"?

According to Wikipedia, timeless physics was discovered in 1999. If this takes place in 1991-1992, how does Harry know about it? Did he work it out himself?

To me the main reason of Harry rejecting Horcruxes is the "anti-Dark Lord Harry program". Harry is trying hard (and with relative success) to prevent becoming a Dark Lord, and rejecting a way to reach immortality for some at the expense of killing others is a way to refuse the Dark Lord path. Harry (in my view) doesn't fully trust himself to wield raw consequentialism, and he respects ethical injunctions like "murder is just wrong" (at least when he's just a 11yo boy and still afraid of becoming a Dark Lord).
But Harry wasn't afraid of being a Dark Lord until the end of being sorted.
Everything on that list (except for the timeless physics) has been answered on the Headscratchers thread itself. As for timeless Physics, that's just Eliezer making use of artistic licence. Warning: Don't wander. One of the things you can find on the sidebar has spoilers for upcoming chapters.
I always thought Harry rejected the idea of mass horcruxing because he was talking to Dumbledore and didn't want to look evil, and that (conditional on better methods not coming around and continued trust in Quirrel) he would have discussed this later with Quirrel.

Edit : contains spoilers

I was a bit disappointed about the Harry-Ginny fake marriage contract story (chapter 25-26). The global plot of Harry hiring the Weasley teens to make Rita Skeeter publish something ridiculous but wrong so Rita would be fired was nice and totally in-character for all of them, but the final story was a bit "due ?" to me. I don't see how the fake marriage contract was such a big deal, enough to get Rita fired, and the length they had to go to make it sounded totally disproportionate compared to the story they ended up with. I would have expected something much more shocking and deep in political consequences than an arranged marriage.

I didn't think the marriage contract was as big a deal as the implication that, if the story were taken as something other than a complete fabrication, someone had messed with Gringott's proceedings to cover it up. I can't imagine that Rita Skeeter could keep her job after courting that kind of scandal with the goblin nation.

Gringott's? I thought it was the security of the records of the Wizengamut that was thrown into question by what the twins did, not Gringott's?
They managed to compromise both. From chapter 26:
Ah, whoops.
To the sibling, I add: Anything to do with Harry Potter is obviously going to be a big deal in this world. He's not just a celebrity, he's a household name Imagine if a newspaper IRL claimed that... I dunno, Bill Gates? .... had, say, Japanese ancestry, and they had incontrovertible proof of it. Also, they'd found secret intelligence that he was planning to start a war against Bhutan with the support of the Phillipines. And all of that turned out to be false. Might not kick up a scandal, but it'd sure kick up a wtf-storm and damage the newspaper's credibility.

Why do wizards speak English?

Rather, why do wizards speak English that's so similar to Muggle English?

The wizard and muggle societies have been more or less isolated from each other for several centuries now (since 1692 in Rowling's canon, probably longer in Eliezer's). You'd expect a significant amount of linguistic drift to have taken place. I don't think a small trickle of Muggle-borns is enough to counter-act that.

Muggle-borns are that minority which have both parents be muggles, but there's also intermarriage between muggles and wizards/witches, so that there's a significant number of halfblood children. And in all of UK there's only one village (Hogsmeade) that's solely composed of wizards/witches, in the rest of the country it seems that wizards/witches are surrounded by Muggle neighbours, probably with charms around them so that the Muggles don't notice anything strange, but nonetheless interacting with said Muggles... Alternate explanation: "It's magic."
I never got the impression that the non-Hogsmeade wizards interacted significantly with their muggle neighbours; they seem far too ignorant of muggle life for that. If anything, wizard settlements (notice how it's generally a number of families that settle in a village, rather than just one?) seem to be akin to ethnic enclaves. Half-bloods... wonder how much effect they'd have. IRL, if there is a significant degree of intermarriage between speakers of two different languages, do a large number of children grow up bilingual? That would be a good place to start looking, I guess.
I've never put these two things next to each other before, but that's a bit of a head-scratcher. If I remember correctly, a very large proportion of Hogwarts students are half-bloods. So... do wizards and muggles actually get along, or is there something strange / sinister / squicky going on there?
Hmm, how many half-bloods are there? Do we ever really meet a typical half-blood? (Harry isn't really half-blood, and Harry, Snape and Voldemort all had unusual childhoods...) Muggle-marriers may be a tiny minority. Their existence does not imply that wizards in general get along with muggles, even if there's nothing squicky going on.
From Wikipedia: Though yes, 'half-blood' here refers to any wizard that isn't muggleborn or pure-blood. So a great deal of them might just be descendents of muggleborns.

I don't feel comfortable trying to pick apart Eliezer's handling of the story when I do not know where he's trying to go with it. If I do not know what a persons' goals are, how can I possibly know if they are accomplishing them optimally?

Most of the things I would complain about are things that seem irrelevant to the main story plot, but I don't yet know that they aren't relevant.

Oh come on, you can't sneeze in Hogwarts without missing a vital clue. This is what I find sometimes hard to stomach: the unbelievable signal-to-noise ratio.

I'd have updated more frequently... [/wistful]

No, seriously. I might have dropped the Self-Actualisation arc, but then again for all I know it's setting up something Awesome later, so maybe it's necessary.

In line with this, I'd have it update more regularly. It's much easier to wait months between story arcs if the chapters in said arcs are spaced out throughout those months, rather than all being posted the same day.
Post arc together: Readers complain you're taking too long to update. Post arc chapter-by-chapter: Readers complain they're bored of the arc.
I've made a remarkable discovery: there are numbers in between 1 and 90. In honor of my genius, I call them 'gwernums'; examples of 'gwernums' include '5', '9', and gwernums requiring advanced techniques, like '20'. Instead of waiting either 1 day or 3 months to post chapters, authors can post after gwernum days! (In the interests of promoting a more sane update schedule worldwide, I hereby release all known gwernums into the public domain.)

I am going to be terribly unoriginal and say that the whole Hermione bullying plot was boring to read, and should have been removed.

I liked the Hermione arc to a large degree. SPHEW was a good joke, and I enjoyed seeing the other witches develop as heroines. The backing things out for the sake of continuing to be able to write a Harry Potter story felt a little forced.

In chapter 2, people don't leave a room to laugh the way Harry's parents do.

Also chapter, 2, McGonagall's final statement while amusing isn't something she should have sufficient data on to say yet.

The entire SPEW thing took way too long. Moreover, it actually comes across as accidentally anti-feminist. Harry is dealing with the terrible atrocity that is Azkaban and Hermione's equivalent is fighting school bullies? And even that requires assistance from Harry?

For readers that don't know what a horcrux is since they haven't read the original books (which a... (read more)

The first time I read it, which was before I had been introduced to any of the LW memes (or really, just transhumanism) I found the section on Askaban to be really... forced.


Specifically, I remember thinking that the idea that dementors were death was a bit cheesy. Taking a metaphor and making it corporeal seems to be a bit much to me. After I reread it a second time, I didn't have nearly as much objection to the passage, since I actually understood what he was getting at. But it still probably remains my least favorite section. But that's not really sa... (read more)

I find myself confused about how dementors can be a personification of death in the way that Harry sees it when that's not how death actually is in the HP universe. I managed to keep a hold of my suspension of disbelief with the idea that the afterlife is a magical version of a brain upload and only works when you have magic in you to record your brainstate at death. Death is still death for muggles and squibs, wizards have just figured out a clever workaround since dementors first came about.

The fridge horror of realizing that, under this theory, muggleborns and the parents of squibs would live on forever while knowing that their relatives are gone was rather enlightening. It made me realize all over again that death truly is a horrible thing that no one who had not lived with it all their lives would willingly sign up for. Who knows? Maybe magic in its entirety was just a side effect to Atlantis' solution for death.

We're not sure if the afterlife exists in the MoR-verse. ETA: Eliezer weighed in on this a long time ago. Warning: Don't wander. One of the things you can find on the sidebar has spoilers for upcoming chapters.
Uh... That's hardly a new) archetype). For non-death examples, see every single god in Greek/Roman/Vedic mythology.
I didn't say it was new, I just said I didn't like it. :-) And in my (limited) experience in literature, such direct personification (where death is, in essence, a character) is most often found in genres like surrealist of postmodern literature, which I don't think Eliezer is going for.

I had great hopes. GREAT hopes.

A book of Narrative that exemplifies values makes for a religion. What I've come to realize/believe, is that you don't have to believe The Narrative is literally true for The Narrative to serve the positive purposes of a religion.

While all the rationality homilies are fine and dandy, I thought HPMOR could have been more. HPMOR was so close to a transvaluation of values.

  • Mum and Dad, Hermione's friendship and Draco's journey, Neville and Seamus and Lavender and Dean, the blue sky and brilliant Sun and all bright things, the Ear
... (read more)

I want to echo the comment that with a good editor, the book could easily rival some of the best fiction in quality. The main character is a bit of a Mary Sue, but that can be forgiven since most hero fiction has an element of Mary-Sueness to it.

I find it a bit weird just how many students at Hogwarts are scions of Noble and Most Ancient Houses. It seems to me as if Eliezer has equated "pure blood" from the original books with "noble house," and the resulting prevalence strikes me as demographically improbable.

"Noble and Most Ancient House" is usually only prepended to "Black", in canon or fan works. There are few enough wizards that I would believe all purebloods can use that sort of distinction, and for someone to actually be concerned with their own blood purity they should have records that invariably would link them to several prominent houses if you went back far enough. So it doesn't strike me as odd that "pure blood" is equated with "noble house".
The Weasleys are canonically pure bloods, but "class traitors," and so do not associate much with other pure bloods, but I don't think they were ever meant to be a noble house. I think "pure blood" was only meant to imply that a person can trace their heritage back a long way exclusively through people who were witches and wizards, but this doesn't mean that they necessarily ever held a position of nobility. To paraphrase something from one of Terry Pratchett's books, "The Vimes name goes back a long way, but so does the name Smith." I always figured that pure bloods were supposed to be analogous to the upper British social classes, and there's a big difference between a gentleman and a Lord of the Commonwealth.
Depending how you count it in canon, there are between 40 and 160 students in a Hogwarts class, per year, from all 4 houses combined. 1/4 of them are purebloods, so that's between 10 and 40 purebloods per year. If wizard families have on average 2 children and start having kids when they're 30, then we'd need to account for between 150 and 600 pureblood nuclear families at the time of the story. Arbitrarily assuming that a pureblood family should have about 3 branches at a given time, that's 50 to 200 pureblood family lines to classify. How many noble houses should there be? According to this page, there appear to be 498 existing hereditary peerages in the UK. While Magical Britain isn't proportional in size, I don't see any reason why it should be. I rather think of it more like the SCA. My feeling is that in the beginning, all the wizards got to be Lords, and you're a pureblood if you can trace your line back to them.
The SCA can get away with having an arbitrarily large proportion of lords and ladies because they don't need any real assets or authority. But if everyone is a Lord, then for practical purposes nobody is. You end up with a Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians situation. A Lord needs to be able to have servants. It's silly to assume that Magical Britain has a similar proportion of peers to nonmagical Britain, that would imply fewer than four peers in the entire country even by the most generous counts, but when you've got Lords with real rights and privileges of nobility over the rest of the population, and in many or most cases, real money too, having them at a rate of one in four, or even one in forty, just seems demographically bizarre. It's the sort of proportion you might expect of land-owning citizens with voting rights, in an earlier democracy, not the sort of proportion you'd expect of Lords and Ladies.
A wizarding lord is in no way restricted by servants. You have house elves, enchantments, transfiguration, apparition. You don't have lesser wizards as servants. You don't even fall into the problem of having too many lords and not enough land, since wizards can create or hide land among other land. It would be entirely plausible to me that a very large proportion of wizards were "lords." You can also remember that Hogwarts isn't the only educational possibility for wizard children, and indeed that it is an expensive one, judging by how the weaselys complain about the cost every year. There's probably a higher proportion of lords there than among the general population, due to the wealth needed to study at hogwarts.
All of those things except for house elves are accessible to any wizard. Having things anyone can get won't set you apart status-wise. Without having things that are scarce to other people (not just things like land and wealth but intangibles such as privilege and authority,) there's nothing to set a lord apart from an ordinary person. Slightly scarce assets can only lead to slight status elevation. The Weasleys may complain about the cost of attending Hogwarts, but they're poor, and have managed to send several children there, so it can't be all that expensive. There may be a higher proportion of lords at Hogwarts due to its status as Magical Britain's preeminent wizarding school, but if a low-income family can afford to put all seven of their children through the school, then the cost is clearly not a significant filter, and having several scions of Noble Houses in each year still looks weird unless Magical Britain is considerably larger than it's implied to be.
It's important to remember that the Statute of Secrecy was only established in 1692. The family tree of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black goes back to the Middle Ages. Noble wizards / common wizards is unlikely to be the relevant demographic proportion; it makes sense that wizards would be disproportionately represented in the peerage.
It's not actually that many. It's a small minority OF the students we know, and the students we know are already a small minority of the students in the school.

Occasionally the writing and sentence structure can feel a little hurried, especially at the beginning of chapters. It's as if Eliezer starts writing at the beginning of a chapter but takes a while to fully get into his rhythm. There have also probably been a few too many tangents from the main plot, but Eliezer's latest author note seems to acknowledge this.

My meta-comment is that you should have posted this in whatever the current HPMoR discussion thread is. It's an established community norm that talk of the fanfic should be kept there. Downvoted for that reason.

My regular comment:

I would have had Eliezer spend way less time on the "Hermione fights an endless supply of bullies" subplot. I wouldn't be averse to just removing it entirely.

I would also have all these damn hints and suggestions and leads and such be made explicit or way less subtle. I'm stupid and busy; I'm not going to get them on the first read, and I'm not going to read twice.

I LIKE subtlety. It flatters my ego if I see it, and if I don't, I don't know that I'm missing it. I hate how modern cop dramas feel the need to explain the significance of every clue to the viewer as soon as a character understands it. If you miss it, you'll eventually figure it out when the plot comes around to it.

I LIKE subtlety. It flatters my ego if I see it, and if I don't, I don't know that I'm missing it.

Data point. I started this thread to complain about the blood of Atlantis. The conclusion is based on a long chain of conjunctive reasoning that basically feels like an asspull. Harry has absolutely no good reason to believe something that complex.

Then I when I went looking for the link, I realised that.... The chapter's called "Hold Off on Proposing Solutions".

The feeling of "that's epic"-ness cannot be described in words.

Well, I hope you think it's okay that my tastes differ from yours.