This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 93. The previous thread has passed 300 comments. 

There is now a site dedicated to the story at, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on 

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: 1234567891011121314151617,18,19,20.

Spoiler Warning: this thread is full of spoilers. With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13. More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it’s fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that “Eliezer said X is true” unless you use rot13.

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I don't know if our love has any magical power under your rules, but if it does, don't hesitate to call on it.

Foreshadowing alert, particularly given canon.

I found 93 incredibly refreshing-- it was good to see so much cooperation, good will, and clear communication after a tremendous amount of earned and unearned mistrust.

It can't be completely stable, of course, not least because Quirrel is around, but also because I think stories don't work to maintain high points before the end.

I wasn't horrified at McGonagle's announcement. This is a story where learning how to do better is a good thing, and I respect the idea that children need to be raised to be adults.

Undoing the problem of people who've been trained to do nothing is going to be harder than it sounds. Having rewards for doing something sounds good at the moment because very few people did anything, but all rewards are subject to Goodhart's Law. I expect to see people doing a lot of ill-thought-out somethings because the reward structure is too simplified.

Harry's father's letter is emotionally excellent, but I wonder whether the idea that adults should be protecting children rather than the other way around entirely applies to Harry's situation. On the other hand, if it's foreshadowing, that could be a relief. Arguably, Harry learning how not to be isolated is a major theme of t... (read more)

On the other hand, I'd forgotten how disappointed I was in HermioneMOR compared to canon Hermione.

I think this is because canon!Hermione plays the voice of reason and maturity to the childish Harry and Ron, whereas HPMOR!Hermione in some ways serves the opposite role, being a real (and thus immature and limited) eleven-year old girl next to super prodigy Harry and trained-to-perfection Draco. Seen in that light, the extent to which she does manage to keep up is actually pretty amazing.

Her "reason and maturity," in canon, is basically playing the role of a responsible young girl. Rowling seems to think this is impressive; obviously, Eliezer does not.

I'm not sure about that last-- remember the bit in MOR where Hermione is right to trust the adults about the dangers of transfiguration and Harry wasn't?

I kind of recently came to the realization that I think Eliezer meant Harry and Hermione's relationship to personify what he says often, which is "Utilitarianism is what is correct, virtue ethics is what works for human beings".

It's been a while since I've read canon, but I remember that Hermione as largely motivated by love of learning (with loyalty to her friends as a strong second, but we don't see the two motivations in conflict, and loyalty isn't distinctive to her-- all the good characters are loyal), and HermioneMOR as largely motivated by wanting to maintain her self-image. MORHermione isn't as awful as that might be because the self-image she wants to match is (mostly?) built around virtue ethics, not vanity or status, but the two characters are very different to me.

From my point of view (and I don't know if anyone shares it), in the early parts of MOR, Hermione was this weird brittle conglomeration of traits that didn't even seem like a human being. I blew up about it, and upset Eliezer, and he did something to how Hermione was portrayed, I don't know what, so that she didn't make me crazy even though her character wasn't drastically changed. I leave the possibility open that Eliezer being affected by what I said calmed me down rather than that he changed the character, though I certainly didn't intend to affect him that strongly.

I have to take it on faith that Eliezer and practically everyone here likes MORHermione as much as they say they do because this isn't how I react to the character.

When exactly in the story did this shift in portrayal occur?
The back of my head says around chapter thirty or so. I don't have a convenient way of tracking down my original comment to make sure.

I found 93 incredibly refreshing-- it was good to see so much cooperation, good will, and clear communication after a tremendous amount of earned and unearned mistrust.

Also, good to see Harry see it, and maybe correct his not entirely accurate assessment of other people.

I'd forgotten how disappointed I was in HermioneMOR compared to canon Hermione.

Really? I like this one so much better. Her only real failing I see is her preoccupation with feeling inferior to Harry, which should be irrelevant regardless and is inaccurate besides.

HPMOR kinda feels off because canonically, Hermione is unambiguously the most competent person in Harry's year, and has a good chance of growing up to be the most competent person in the 'verse. Harry is kept at the center of the story by his magical connection to Voldemort. In HPMOR, in contrast, Harry is kept at the center of the story by competence and drive. It's going to be very hard to do that without it feeling like Hermione is getting shafted. That said, Hermione's death was an excellent decision from a storytelling perspective. Death is a major theme of both canon and HPMOR, but in canon Harry the most important deaths in Harry's life are those of his parents, who he had no memories of.
Not just that-- he's also got a good bit of competence and drive, and Dumbledore's Army is a good example of canon Harry taking initiative in a way that's unusual for fictional characters but rather in the spirit of MOR.

Dumbledore's Army is a good example of canon Hermione taking the initiative, Harry just went along with the idea, if I recall correctly.

Harry's thinks his competence and drive, at least in extremis, are tied to his superhuman dark side that makes him smarter, more competent, and fearless.
Eliezer has said that Hermione hasn't been powered up as much as other characters because she was already so great in canon. This is one voice who hasn't had any issues with Eliezer's handling of Hermione.

Eliezer has said that Hermione hasn't been powered up as much as other characters because she was already so great in canon.

And went so far as to observe that if Hermione were to be upgraded in the same way that Harry, Quirell and Draco had been upgraded then she would surpass the intellectual capabilities of the author himself, and his ability to emulate.

It's possible to write about characters cleverer than oneself by two means I can think of.

  1. having unlimited time to think about what your character arrives at in an instant

  2. getting multiple people to help with the above.

But at some point your character is going to think about something for more than an instant (if they don't then I strongly contest that they are very intelligent). In a best case scenario, it will take you a very long time to write this story, but I think there's some extent to which being more intelligent widens the range of thoughts you can think of ever.
It's going to take a very long time for Chimpanzees to write Hamlet.

Sure, the method I mention only allows you to write characters a single level above yours.


You can also have characters make original discoveries that you read about in books.


Or correctly apply in real time techniques that you have only read about in books.

As Harry himself points out, Harry is cheating, and hard. He has a dark-side, he has a time turner, he's been training his mind from birth... and Hermione is still beating him in raw intelligence, and was just starting to learn to be a hero before her death.

Aside from that, take a look at Hermione Granger and the Burden of Responsibility, which is a recursive fanfiction of HPMoR diverging during her trial. It's really only just getting started, but I have hopes.

I've just read the first chapter and this is excellent. Though I'm concerned that the title indicates that it might culminate in Hermonie angst-mongering. If that happens, I might just start a fanfic of order 3 with Amelia Bones as the main character.
Yes, I'm starting to think of Spider-Man. But I don't expect this story to go that way.
Hermione wasn't powered up at all.
It's been a while since I've read cannon, but isn't this almost exactly what happens in cannon? HGMoR sounds like it'd just be cannon written with JKR following around HG instead of HP (which, admittedly, would be rather interesting)
JKR couldn't write rationalist fiction. She lacks the relevant domain knowledge. She could plausibly write a spock-rationalist fiction or perhaps responsible-academic fiction.
Well certainly. I wrote that sentence from the perspective of "cannon happens, author follows around writing down the story" rather than "author makes up story." I guess a better way to communicate that would be to say "were we to write HGMoR in the cannon universe, we wouldn't have to change anything."
That's just the thing: canon!Hermione doesn't act rationally according to the way used here or in MoR. An actual rational!Hermione would act entirely differently and the whole story would change. Rowling did not create a rational Hermione and in fact could not have if she tried. The story would be different.
Since Rowling follows around HP and not HG, we don't actually know how HG thinks. Since JKR wrote the story, she can use preknowledge to make HG arbitrarily smart, and since she doesn't have too large of an impact on what actually happens, she can do this without needing to account for how smart HG is; even if she were to devise some genius plan to beat voldy, she'd have to act through HP, who could easily and stupidly reject her plan offscreen. That is, I'm arguing that even if you kept making HG arbitrarily smart (but not arbitrarily powerful or prophecy-choosen), you could easily keep everything else the same by making HP or some other characters arbitrarily stupid, possibly offscreen. EDIT: Oops, I edited the previous comment to leave out the phrase "since HG acts rationally" a few seconds after I posted it, since that's not really what I meant, but you seem to have beat me to the response.
That's arguable but if true it would also demonstrate the point. An actually rational agent in her situation would have made a significant impact. No. That would not be a HG:MoR story. That would be Hermione Granger and the Excessively Upgraded Idiocy All Around Her. This just isn't true. I think you drastically underestimate the difference between the smart and conciencious girl as conceived by Rowling and an actual rational upgrade of Hermione and the consequences that would have. An arbitrary rational Hermione, even with the only the IQ of canon!Hermione, would be an active agent. If not, it isn't Methods of Rationality at all. It's Methods of being a Responsible and Slightly Clever Schoolgirl.
Offhand, the only thing I can remember canon Hermione saying about the theory of thinking is the bit where she explains that she remembers more than most people because she pays attention to what she perceives. This seems subjectively plausible to me, though it might be hindsight bias-- that is, sometimes when I don't remember things after first exposure, the trying to remember them just brings up a fog as though those things were never noticed, even though in some cases, I know I was paying some degree of attention. It's just that whatever it was didn't get moved from short-term attention into memory.
Well, since the reward structure isn't explicit, and we expect McGonagoll to get much smarter on a much smaller timescale than opportunities to earn a reward by "disobeying McGonagoll according to your own judgement."

Prediction: Snape will end up playing a crucial role in the climax of the story, similar to canon but even more satisfying. Evidence:

  1. I forget where, but at some point Dumbledore tells Harry that Snape is one of his most valuable allies.
  2. The most Snape-centric chapter is called "sunk costs." Notice that this is the name of a fallacy. Snape thinks his life is an unfixable wreck, but he is wrong, and good story telling demands that this be revealed in a suitably moving fashion.

I believe Snape's "Sunk Costs" hangup is also alluded to in Ch 91:

"Do you intend to declare that your life is now a ruin and that there is nothing left for you but vengeance?"

"No. I still have -" The boy cut himself off.

"Then there is very little advice that I can give you," said Severus Snape.

I can't help suspecting that what you're actually thinking of is this: in chapter 7, which of course was written not by Dumbledore but by Lucius Malfoy.

Snape is in a perfect position to cleave together the cleft worlds of wizardry. If he can convince Malfoy that not Dumbledore but Voldemort threatened the life of his son, he can make these old enemies into allies against voldemort.

Snape is also the most Muggle-aware main character.
I'm rather curious about Snape's magical power. Is he considered the "Bellatrix Black" of the Light?
By who? The Purebloods who see him as an ally aren't afraid of him. But yes, in Hogwarts - see Eliezer's response here. I don't know how Snape compares to artifact-holder Moody (who seems more likely to scare Death Eaters). Severus outranks dueling champion Flitwick in power (according to the reference in that thread) but Moody would tell you not to trust duels as a measure of combat readiness.
When I wrote my comment, I went looking for the passage I was thinking of, and found the one you quote instead. But I could have sworn there was a later passage where Dumbledore tells Harry essentially the same thing. I'd put more weight in Dumbledore's claim, as we see Snape helping Dumbledore/Harry extensively, and all of his actions seem to have the best of intentions. (Also, Eliezer does not seem to have tampered with canon allegiances much.) EDIT: Upon looking through the HPMOR archives, I think I may have been thinking of chapter 18, where Dumbledore says that Snape has his fullest confidence. Other useful information on Methods!Snape's loyalties are to be found in chs. 77 and 86. I feel like there may be some other relevant chapter here, like after Dumbledore had more fully taken Harry into his confidence, but not in a discussion with Snape or McGonagall present.
I agree: in HPMOR as in canon, Snape appears to be on the whole one of the Good Guys, and it seems likely that he has more to do.
2 is very interesting. Nice job noticing that detail on sunk costs

Disclaimer: I am thoroughly enjoying HPMOR. That said, I just don't think Eliezer is quite grokking the substance of feminist complaints.

It makes complete sense within the story for all the female characters to do what they do, given what they've defined to be and what circumstances have arisen. The death of hermione makes complete sense. But its a fridging, of course its a fridging, because you are the author. You created these characters, and put them into the situation. If you tell a Superman story where he kills, and you set up circumstances where the only thing he can do is kill, then, sure, within the story, we buy that Superman needed to kill in that circumstance. But you, the author, put him in that circumstance, made him and his opponents make choices which led to that death, because you wanted him to kill.

I don't think Eliezer necessarily intended to make the female characters in this fic weaker than the male ones, more passive, more timid, more prone to mistakes, but thats how it has turned out. And for the defence that this is what he got from canon? Well to be honest its quite clear that many of these characters aren't the characters from canon. Moody is far more compe... (read more)

I think it's a bit absurd to call something a "fridging" when the character in question has been around for 90 chapters and had their own major story arc, etc. That's really getting away from the spirit of what the "women in fridges" idea is complaining about (ie women who only serve to die in order to motivate the male characters).

While personally, I think this is a entirely legitimate direction to take with the story, I'll point out that on some level those 90 chapters of relevance can exist for the purpose of heightening the impact of the character's removal.

It's entirely possible to deliberately write a female character who exists purely for her death to motivate a male character (or vice versa, but it's likely that fewer people would complain,) who's well developed and active in the story for a long time, if the author is doing so simply to set up the extent of the motivation. And I think some people are concerned that, given that Eliezer planned Hermione's death from the very beginning, this is just what he did.

Yup, this is pretty much my point. Of course, this fic being as it is, Hermione may be back alive in a couple of chapters time, which will change things.
Hush, I convinced myself that Snape was really a bad guy in the original books, I want this to be a surprise too.
He was a bad guy. He happens to be a bad guy who has the same broad tribal affiliation.
You mean like Cedric Diggory? (Tv Tropes Warning)
I would be shocked if someone were criticizing comic books for too much planning and coherence, if the Fridge critique referred to the character as a whole rather than her death. So in part this seems like a non-sequitur. Back to MoR, the "major story arc" could indeed lead to Hermione doing something awesome, and her apparent death might not destroy that possibility for the sake of Harry's character development. But right now, you're dismissing the criticism out of hand because of an arc that led some readers to call Hermione silly. You're talking about a story that led people to question her characterization before now. As far as malign coherence goes, Eliezer chose to throw in a dig at some strain of feminism during "Self Actualization," which ends with Harry and some men saving Hermione and friends. Now, Eliezer has said that he made SA longer than it strictly needed to be because he didn't realize he could take a different road to setting up (an arc where Harry saves her again, and she suffers and feels incompetent and stupid before her apparent death). But in a finished work, it would look like he put all this in for a reason. And looking back from chapter 92, a lot of it does in fact look like deliberate trolling of feminists. Were this a finished work, certain feminists reaching chapter 89-92 could reasonably delete the file. And if I told them that later chapters improve the issues in question, I would not expect to be believed without major spoilers. Because I'm more like (a dumber version of) Eliezer than they are, and I still don't know what the Hell he's doing.
You know, I thought 89 trolled feminists the most.
Er thanks, that was an odd mistake on my part. Prime, even.
... did I just get outdone?
That's not what fridging is- it refers to a specific type of death, where a female character is killed by a villain and left for the hero to find, specifically for the purpose of affecting the hero mentally. We don't know yet who killed Hermione and why, but it's possible that it was meant as a fridging. TvTropes:
Also keep in mind the tropes are not bad.
That might have some validity, but the validity is detracted by the difference in scale in what Hermione and Harry have dealt with. Harry has been discovering new magic (some small amount with Hermione but only because he helped), destroying avatars of death, rescuing people from prison, putting the son of the most evil person around on the past to redemption. Hermione's arcs consist mainly of fighting school bullies, and even doing that to a large extent with Harry handling a large fraction of the problem, and occasionally beating Harry in a mock combat situation where he was clearly holding back. It is also noteworthy that Hermione's death occurred after there were already largescale complaints about the role of women (and Hermione) in the story. And Hermione's death didn't even accomplish much: she wasn't saving the life of another student for example (a student getting in the way of the troll would have been an obvious thing to matter), and despite all her intelligence, she never in the course of her arc developed new magic or the like.
This is only relative to Harry though. Draco didn't even start doing anything until he was very heavily prompted by Harry, and throughout the story i get the impression that Draco was learning more from Harry than Harry was from Draco. Is Hermione really doing worse than any male student other than Harry?
I expect that would have helped a lot, especially if Hermione successfully rescued said hypothetical student (Harry may have killed the troll, but he failed at the whole rescue thing). We don't really know what Hermione was doing before running into the troll, or how it so quickly went from in the dungeons to on a terrace, or how the troll got into the dungeons rather than a more obvious way in to Hogwarts (was Hermione going to the dungeons? The Ravenclaw girls' dorms? Somewhere else entirely?).

Yet Hermione and McGonnagal are essentially as flawed as they were in the original text.

Amelia Bones, Susan Bones, Daphne Greengrass, Padme Patil (and even more minor characters like Hannah Abbot and Tracey Davis) are all significantly stronger and more relevant characters in this one than they ever were in the Harry Potter series.

If you compare ratio of the genders of relevant characters, HPMOR is better than the original Harry Potter ever was. You say Hermione is as flawed as in the original but you forget that it was Ron who was completely downgraded to peripheral status.

And as Velorien said, fridging is defined by its narrative purpose, and we don't know its narrative purpose yet.

On the other hand, major female characters Luna and Ginny are entirely absent from HPMOR. I guess it was inevitable given the decision to make the story take place only within Harry's first year (since they are not in school yet) but I would have loved to see an HPMOR version of either of them.

They're not old enough to be in Hogwarts yet.
Luna isn't entirely absent, she's been mentioned by name and her own musings have been published as fact in the Quibbler. Ginny does seem to be entirely absent so far though.
Not so - she was involved in Fred and George's plot in some way (otherwise she would kill them upon seeing her photo in the newspaper).
No way--she would kill them at seeing her picture in the newspaper...if she knew it was them. They were keeping their name out of it at least partially to save their necks from their family.
You're right, I had forgotten the Marriage Law plot.
Yeah I meant to mention Amelia Bones, who is by far the most competent female character we've encountered thus far. She is not, of course, a particularly major character thus far. I guess when a character has an exciting fight off stage and we as readers perceive them as mortally wounded and helpless, and our male character swears vengeance at their death.. thats pretty much fridging to me. Regardless of the conclusion, the next few chapters at least will be devoted to Harry's actions which are entirely predicated on hermione's death. If she had, as some suggested, died saving someone, as part of her arc, if we'd seen more of her fight, I do think that scene would have come across better. There may, of course, be excellent reasons that we did not get to observe that scene: perhaps we'll find out. I'm talking about the response now, and immediate feelings associated with that.

Sorry, how are Hermione and McGonagall, "essentially as flawed as they were in the original text", exactly? I always saw their characters as being a step up from their original descriptions, and it's clear that the difficulties that Eliezer is having them overcome are not random things that no other characters have, but rather, the sorts of problems with thinking we see in the real world. Hermione and McGonagall have made more progress over the book than many of the other characters. You can point out that this means they started out weaker, but there are clear, justifiable reasons for this, and not simply downgrading all the females.

You have to acknowledge the backgrounds of these characters.

Moody? Dark Wizard hunter for a hundred years. You can't expect McGonagall to be able to compete with that. Quirrell? In order for the story to work, we needed a villain that would be a match for the upgraded Harry, so it's obvious why he would need to be seriously ramped up. Dumbledore? After defeating Grindlewald, he had to wage the war against Voldemort for ten years, so his character needed to be the sort that could realistically withstand that pressure.

While I can't pretend to... (read more)

I do understand why the story is like that, and, to be clear, its fine for HPMOR to fail a feminist critique! Lots of fantastic stories fail feminists critiques: this will bug some readers more than others, and it might be useful for a particular author to consider that a particular choice might alienate some readers because of the history. Yes, there are lots of great reasons for Moody and Dumbledore to be how they are, but McGonnogal is an order member, so could easily be different (and in earlier chapters, often is!) . To be clear, I do think this story in general does portray women pretty well, but the bullying arc and this death feel like misfires because they embody certain tropes without, perhaps, intending to.

If it's okay for something to fail a critique, doesn't that kind of mean there's something wrong with the critique?

And I think there is something wrong with the critique. You don't quite seem to appreciate the point Eliezer is making in his response.

I take it as a given that it is perfectly legitimate to have the main character of a story motivated by the death of his best friend. It is a premise of the whole endeavor that the main character is a super-smart Harry. So now we have to find a friend. Who could that naturally be? Well, it so happens that the smartest student in Harry's year in the original is a girl; naturally, she will now be the second-smartest student in the class, because otherwise we'd have to dumb her down. She has the brains and personality to be Harry's friend - so unless Eliezer takes additional pains to move further away from the original, she is going to be that friend. And it just so happens that she is female, which is entirely irrelevant.

Indeed, one could also turn it around and point out that it's a positive thing that the person smart enough to be such good friends with Harry that their death motivates him suitably is a girl. But that would be equally b... (read more)


No, it doesn't indicate a problem with the critique. If I tell you that super mario is not a particularly feminist piece of work I don't think you'd disagree, but I imagine you'd probably not agree that we shouldn't play it.

Criticism isn't about saying that something is unworthy of our time: quite the contrary, its about looking at worthy pieces of work and seeing where they fail and they succeed.

Yes, the best friend dying to motivate our hero is a classic motivation, and not one that is inherently bad. However, because so many heroes in literature and film are men, and so many of the friends that die are women, it begins to be problematic. Pointing out tropes and their abundance in culture isn't to say that an individual instance is necessarily bad, but to say that it might be worth thinking of new ways to approach the problem. For example, being sexually assaulted in one's past might be an excellent motivation for a female character, except it occurs in fiction a hell of a lot, so it has become tiresome.

For more on this I might point to the good (if a little feminist 101) tropes vs women in video games videos.

When you say something fails, one of two things is the case: either the thing you're talking about is deficient in some way and should or could be improved; or you're making an irrelevant statement. Otherwise you shouldn't have used the language of "fail" and "succeed". Also, people are not just saying that HPMoR isn't particularly feminist. That I would take as meaning that it's simply orthogonal to feminism. But they are saying it in a way that suggests they think it is a flaw. I don't think anybody will deny this. Now, if I understand you correctly, what you're saying is that people are wrong to utter this as a complaint, but that it's legitimate to point out that HPMoR instantiates certain patterns. Even if you are explicit that you're not saying it shouldn't conform to these pattern, I think it's not relevant. And the reason is this: I'm not saying that it can never be problematic. There is this problematic pattern. What I'm saying is that this pattern-matching leads you astray in the case of HPMoR because its conforming to this pattern is an accident brought about by completely feminism-irrelevant meta-issues (namely the relation between certain unobjectionable story premises and the original from which it is derived). Instantiations of tropes that come about in this accidental way don't count; in the same way that someone who doesn't speak Chinese by chance producing a sequence of sounds with the right pitch contour that by a Chinese speaker would be perceived as a word doesn't count as that person having spoken a word of Chinese.

Quite a number of things feminists find problematic in fiction are so not because of anything intrinsic in them (surely stories don't really have any intrinsic meaning, really; they always only mean something to people who have interpreted them somehow), but because in the context of broader culture those things have Unfortunate Implications. Now, simply avoiding doing anything that has Unfortunate Implications severely restricts what can be said about women, which in turn has Unfortunate Implications of its own. So, short of just fixing all of society so the context isn't so troublesome any more, there are always going to be hard choices, and reasonable people are going to disagree about whether the right choice has been made. The present critique is pointing out, correctly, that Hermione's fate has Unfortunate Implications. Perhaps there was a better way to tell the story, but one can point out the UIs without knowing such a better way, and even if one doubts that it really exists; drawing attention to UIs may improve understanding and contribute to other projects even if there is no fixable deficiency in the present target.

If a text can have Unfortunate Implications even if there was no alternative way to tell the story and the story is legitimate, then I don't understand this concept of Unfortunate Implications and I think it oughtn't to be called "Unfortunate Implications". Because there is no implication of anything. These things seem to me to work like implicatures. "The author could have told the story in a different way. But she didn't, she told the story in a way conforming to this or that culturally prevalent pattern. Interesting.". But if the author couldn't have told it in any other way anyway and the conformity with the pattern is a purely accidental property and the cultural prevalence of the pattern has nothing to do with anything in how it came about, then this isn't interesting.
You appear to be saying that readers are unfair to authors. Well, yes, they are.
That sounds a lot like Conservation of Expected Evidence to me, by analogy if not quite literally.
The point is that once an author is made aware of a trope which can be off putting to some readers, they can attempt to avoid it in future. Obviously the author doesn't have to, and sometimes this particular trope might be necessary, but I don't think its bad to go "hey, this doesn't work for me for x y and z reasons". From a story telling point of view, ignoring feminism for a minute, I personally find characters dying "randomly" unsatisfying. Joss Whedon does this occasionally, killing off characters essentially at random, rather than letting said character have a heroic moment then dying. I appreciate that this is deeply realistic, but the story lover in me rebels. This is, of course, a different issue from the one I'm approaching, but I wonder if it isn't adding to some people's reaction.

This was anything but a random death. It was foreshadowed for a long time, we knew who'd do it and why, it's an integral part of the main storyline. Part of the story worked exactly because we were expecting this, but the characters were not.

Well, you can of course argue that Hermione, being the second smartest first year student, is the obvious candidate for te role of the best friend who dies too early, do you think it'd be equally plausible if Eliezer had killed Neville? Neville should be able to stand just as close to Harry as Hermione did (since Harry has not hit puberty yet, and thinks girls are "icky"), but I don't think it's reasonable to assume that Neville's death could have brought forth the same emotions both in Harry and in the readers that Hermione's death did. Eliezer probably also knows this and thus chose Hermione to die.

Yes, exactly. Neville's death would not have created these emotions, but the reason is not that he is male and Hermione is female. Neville should not be able to stand just as close to Harry. Neville is in no position to be anything as close to a comrade or equal as Hermione was. Neville is just someone who Harry has sympathy for and by whose development Harry was impressed. This is a very different thing from the "the two of us are different from the rest of the world" connection that he quickly developed with Hermione at the beginning (and which then faded off a bit, not least due to the questionable SPHEW arc).

I think this may be taking Harry at his word a bit too much when it comes to his views on Hermione. Just because Harry allways speaks in "rationalist" vocabulary, doesn't mean he is allways rational or free of bias. He is often unfair to people when he's emotional. And his blind spot for Quirrel is a mile wide. "It was the defense professor last year, and the year before that, and the year before that..." Someone actualy starting from priors and adjusting finds Quirrel very quickly, particularly when you factor in the sense of doom.

Harry thinks he doesn't like Hermione that way, Harry's dad is pretty sure he does. I think regarding Harry's statements as the more objective one here may be a mistake.

Harry thinks he doesn't like Hermione that way, Harry's dad is pretty sure he does.

In my experience, relatives are pretty sure the kid likes any friend of the opposite gender that way if they get brought to their attention. At least, in the culture in my general area.

Harry seems to think of puberty as purely binary. It's not; it's a gradual process. I don't know what deficiency in Harry's education led him to think this way, but it fumbles all of his thoughts about puberty. Harry almost seems to be reasoning as follows: * I'm not sexually attracted to anybody. * Therefore, I haven't hit puberty yet. * Therefore, I can't possibly be romantically attracted to anybody. Puberty doesn't work that way.
Or, Harry is summarizing a wide variety of observations on the topic of puberty in a pithy and relatively un-embarrassing fashion. We don't know Harry's actual basis for claiming that he hasn't yet begun puberty, but his comments on the subject are just a little too flippant to be the complete truth.
Real adolescents are often stunningly ignorant of how puberty works, despite all efforts to educate them otherwise...
Quite true. My ideas at Harry's age were actually very much like Harry's, and I didn't recognise my own first puberty-influenced romantic attractions (at, let me see, probably the age of 10, and at least two years before I felt any sexual attraction to anybody). I just expected Harry himself to know better.
Yet it is extremely out of character for Harry to fail to have conducted even minimal research on a phenomenon which will drastically impact his thinking and emotions as soon as it inevitably kicks in within the next couple of years.
He clearly knows about hormones and etc., he just doesn't know the details of the process. How much hindsight bias are you operating under? What is "minimal research" on puberty when one is eleven-twelve?
Whatever "minimal research" is, he has vastly surpassed it in most areas where he's done any research at all, from physics and rationality to transfiguration and potions. It seems nonsensical to expect less of him in one area than all the others without a very good reason.
As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, keep in mind that tropes are not bad.
Indeed. The point is with fridging is that it is not an inherently bad thing, but by repetition, and by being predominately women being fridged to motivate men, it begins to be unfortunate.
While we're on the subject of bringing in larger context, I'd like to point out the context of your complaint: The SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) regularly goes off the rails over perceived instances of people not being politically correct enough. One recent incident involved the (female) editor of the SFWA bulletin being forced to resign over the following examples of "sexism": 1) A column in the bulletin used the word "lady" to refer to women and complemented some of them on their appearance. 2) The same issue had a bikini-clad warrior woman on the cover. This was enough to cause a huge controversy. However, the authors of said column subsequently published another column defending their previous column and pointing out how absurd the controversy was and in particular that "lady" is not a slur. This was considered completely beyond the pail and resulted in the above mentioned resignation as well as the bulletin being put on a six-month hiatus while the issue was being investigated. Edit: Here are Andrew Fox's and Sarah Hoyt's articles on the subject.
Your description of the incident does not seem to be very complete or accurate. Fortunately, others have written about it — such as E. Catherine Tobler's open letter, this io9 article ... and, of course, SFWA president John Scalzi's statement.
I just looked through the articles you linked to and haven't noticed anything that disagrees with my summary (I have also looked through many others you did not link to before posting my comment). Perhaps you could describe what specific additional information you think my summary is missing.
I'm not interested in having a discussion of the incident; I'm interested in directing readers of your comment to where they can find out more. Any particular sources you suggest?
Well, the sources you side are as decent as any in conveying the facts once one gets past the fact that they're written as insane troll logic diatribes (or rather two are such diatribes and one was written by someone begging for mercy from said insane trolls). As for sources I'd recommend well Andrew Fox's and Sarah Hoyt's accounts are more reasonable, but they may come off as alarmist exaggeration until one realizes how common the insane trolls are.
One of the more obvious details noted in fubarobfusco's articles is the complaints about how the articles about the female authors had much attention to female authors' physical appearances. That was a major source of the complaints, especially in the context that one would not see similar such remarks about male authors. This isn't the only difference, only one of the ones that jumps out.
Um, I noted that in my summary.
There's a severe scale difference here in description. This wasn't just complements but more strong language. Frankly, I'm inclined to think the whole thing did get blown out of proportion, although I suspect that the primary reasons for it had as much to do with the never ending internal politics of SFWA which seems to spend more of its time as a drama factory than anything else, as much as it had to do with feminism. But even given that, it still seemed like your summary downplayed the concerns. Incidentally, I'm slightly curious if you downvoted my comment and fubarobfusco's comment; both comments were downvoted within a few seconds of your replies. I don't particular care much about karma one way or another, but it probably isn't a great idea to downvote people one is having a discussion with if one is going to have any minimal hope of caring out a productive conversation. Among other issues, it can easily increase cognitive dissonance levels and make it substantially harder to accept an argument from the person one is talking to.
I'm not entirely sure what this has got to do with my comments, other than it is an issue related to feminism in science fiction and fantasy writing. I don't really want to get into this argument, but would suggest simply that it this situation is perhaps more complicated than your post suggests.
Both arguments are based on the position that while something is not inherently bad (e.g., the frigging trope, complaining about aspects of a story that bother you), this instance of it is a problem because of the larger social context in which it is embedded.

Yet Hermione and McGonnogal are essentially as flawed as they were in the original text.

Hermione is the most admirable character in HPMOR, and it looks like McGonagal could soon join her at the top. If their portrayal is an affront to feminism, it's feminism that has the problem, not HPMOR.

2Ben Pace
Excellent point.
This isn't an argument, but a conclusion. It also misses the primary issues at hand here. Hermione might be a very impressive character in any other story, but her total accomplishment set when compared to the primary male character is much smaller. Hermione fights bullies (with Harry's help). Harry's equivalent accomplishment: rescuing a prisoner from the most secure prison in the world. Harry, finds a way to kill an avatar of death. Hermione is killed by a troll, without even saving someone's life to show for it. Etc. The problem here is not feminism.

I said most admirable, not most powerful.

But let's take your example as is, because it demonstrates another point. When Hermione fought bullies, that actually brought about a lasting change in Hogwarts. Compare the good of that accomplishment to the good of setting free one prisoner from Azkaban, the one most likely, capable, and intent on wreaking destruction in the world.

Who has done more good? I don't think that's a slam dunk win for Harry, and could be a devastating loss.

In a similar way, recall that Hermione won the first battle of the generals because neither Harry nor Draco knew how to effectively organize a group of people to a shared goal. Also, if Harry is supposed to learn goodness from Hermione, isn't that a rather huge power, determining whether the world gets one more Voldemort, or one more Dumbledore? Influence of others is power to do good as well. Similarly, it's McGonagall who actually runs Hogwarts and sets an example for students, not Dumbledore.

Hermione had a lasting power for good. Harry is "exceptionally good at killing things". If you want something killed, you want Harry on your side. Or Quirrell. Or Voldemort. Or Dumbledore. If you wanted a l... (read more)

So to the first part, lasting amount of good from a long-term consequentialist standpoint isn't the same as how much impact someone has. And if one is trying to think of long-term issues then Harry has also discovered how to destroy otherwise unkillable creatures, and has set Draco Malfoy on the path to redemption. Even if Harry dies tomorrow, the total utility of there being one less dementor in the world will add up a lot over the long term. (In canon dementors can reproduce, but I strongly suspect this isn't the case in HPMOR.) This isn't the only change. There's also a massive increase in power, intelligence and capability of the antagonist, who, yes, we assume has a penis. There's a massive increase in Dumbledore's genre awareness and awareness of the cost of his actions to others, and his general power level (using Time Turners), who yes, we assume has a penis. There's a massive increase in Draco Malfoy's manipulative skill, who yes, we assume has a penis. Moreover, while some female characters have become more interesting (Daphne and Tracy are obvious examples), they still are orders of magnitude less important. And there have been other possible options which could have been interesting. For example, rather than just having Petunia as a helpless housewife, while her husband is a professor, Eliezer could have had written something where she was also an academic, or a successful businesswoman, or a lot. I'm not sure if this is a strawman or a genuine failure on my part (and possibly others who are concerned) to explain our concerns. No one anywhere in either this discussion thread or the previous HPMOR discussion thread has made the argument "that this is a general affront to women everywhere". And I'm pretty sure that I don't believe that. (Introspecting quickly, it is possible that my stated and actual beliefs don't align. However, if I did think that it was such an affront I douubt, I would have used as my interesting icebreaker fact last Friday that I h

To state it more explicitly problem is that this is a set of not great role models.

If the issue is the set of role models, I submit that Hermione is the best role model in the book.

You can't model yourself after Harry, redo your birth, and have a superhuman dark side to call on. Similarly, you can't choose to have a university professor as a parent, who can serve as a role model to you in scientific method, and fully support your efforts in studying science. You can't trade in your two dentist parents, who think your intelligence is "cute', for parents who will respect and support your gifts.

But you can be diligent, hard working, honest, caring, and brave. You can do what is right. Though you won't be as smart as Hermione, she is the best role model the book has to offer.

having a substantially weaker female lead is going to make it harder for them to identify with the characters,

Because it's much easier to identify with a 10 year old with a superhuman dark side who wants minions and a sparkly throne. Much healthier too.

Role models in fictional works are by nature characters who are interesting more than they are perfect role models. No one wants to read a story about a character who is perfectly good, goes to classes every day, and never gets in trouble. The nature of role models is more subtle than simply being good. For a young child, they aren't someone with magical talent, but they can still identify with characters with magical talent, and that's easier when the character is of the same gender. (I remember at last year's Vericon there was a panel on feminism and science-fiction and fantasy, and every single female author on the panel, including Tamora Pierce, expressed how much frustration they had growing up with the depiction of female characters, not just that they weren't protagonists, but that when they were a side-kick or a secondary protagonist, how utterly boring they would be. This is a very old set of problems.)

has set Draco Malfoy on the path to redemption

That's assuming that Draco's half-year of interacting with his new friend can't be countervailed by his subsequent several years of interacting with his loving-but-evil father. I would barely rate that as a possibility, much less an obvious assumption.

The question of Draco does have interesting is-HPMOR-feminist implications, though. Suppose we swapped the genders of Draco and Hermione, both of whom just had many of their often-similar arcs cut short for very-similar reasons. Now, Herman is the one who maintains his convictions in the face of an overwhelming villainous threat, and so the villain is forced to murder him via a plot using the third most perfect killing machine in nature, properly prepared using sabotage and magical upgrades because otherwise the troll would have lost. Now, Draca is the one who gets taken out of the action by half-a-plot (a plot which depends on Draca making rash egotistical mistakes), but she survives under her father's thumb because ending her influence on Harry doesn't even take killing her. Did the story just become more gender-equal, or less?

I hope I understand your model correctly as "p(girl scientist | no HPMoR) < p(girl scientist | current HPMoR) < p(girl scientist | feminist HPMoR)".
I wouldn't call it "feminist HPMoR"- as I've said before, there's a big difference between a feminist tract and simply taking into account certain concerns that might be described as feminist. But yes, I agree that's an accurate summary of the model (heck I wouldn't have gone and told a 16 year old girl to read it this weekend if that weren't my model).
On what do you base this guess?

On what do you base this guess?

Primarily anecdotal and a function of who I know who is reading it, along with the fact that in general fanfic is a heavily female media form, with a lot of young people. From my personal sample, I'd say that about 60% of readers I know are male, but since I'm friends with substantially more men than women, that suggests that that percentage (tentatively) should be correct towards 50/50.


rescuing a prisoner from the most secure prison in the world.

demonstrating that, unlike Hermione, he can't distinguish dangerous quests with high potential pay-offs from dangerous quests that will make the world worse even if he succeeds.

Which is true, but also completely missing the point. What matters to a large extent is the scale of things. Harry does big stuff. Sometimes that results in what may end up as massive screw ups, but his total scale of what he is impacting is much larger.
Just to be clear, the name of the story in question is "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality", which was based off of a series of seven books also titled with the name "Harry Potter". The name of the story is not "Hermione Granger and the Methods of Rationality". If it were, then yes, I would expect to see her impact be the larger one.
In the original though, Hermione does big stuff. It is her Time-Turner that saves things in book 3. And throughout the series (with the exception of book 7 where Rowling took a somewhat anti-rationalist stance), it almost always Hermione that figures out what the big plot is or the like. Part of why Hermione in fact looks so much weaker here is because she was the most rational character in the original, and increasing Harry's skill set while doing much less to hers makes her look less impressive.
As I have pointed out elsewhere, Hermione wasn't powered up at all. Without diminishing the arguments of the feminist side, I think that's pretty damn impressive.
If someone wrote a book where all the #Gender1's were Stalins, each responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, and all the #Gender2's were ordinary people who didn't do much, I think that would be an anti-#Gender1 story, even though it's the #Gender1's who do big stuff.

It might be anti-both. If you insinuate that everyone of gender 1 is liable to become a genocidal dictator, that's an insult to people of gender 1. If you insinuate that no one of gender 2 is liable to do anything substantial, that's an insult to people of gender 2. Neither insult ceases to be insulting merely because you said something bad about the other people too.

It's not about whether the story is pro-women or anti-women. It's about whether the story reiterates common tropes that reinforce stereotyped roles for women and men that are harmful to one or both.
Yes, it is. One of the premises in the simple syllogism is implied and is sufficiently obvious as to make a claim that it is not an argument disingenuous. It would be plausible that someone could reject the argument and reject the premise. It is not plausible to claim that it is not an argument at all. It misses the issues that you consider primary. But to me it seems to touch on the essential issue: Feminist memes are incompatible with HPMoR and feminism would be much improved by becoming more like Harry Potter: Methods of Rationality.
Ok. So help me out here, what is the premise I was missing? If you phrase the "essential issue", that way, then I agree denotationaly but disagree connotationaly. Sure there are bad feminist memes (this shouldn't be surprising, almost every movement has bad memes), and there are definite trends in feminism which are outright awful. There's a heavy anti-science attitude in a large part of the feminist movement, and feminism in many forms almost raises identity politics to a weird combination of an art form and a religion. Lots of things could benefit from being more like HPMoR. But that doesn't mean that HPMoR couldn't also benefit from some aspects of feminism, it doesn't mean that the (by and large) healthy memes in feminism are incompatible, and it doesn't mean that HPMoR couldn't benefit by taking those ideas into account. (Incidentally, someone in the last few hours apparently went through and downvoted almost everything I've written in the last few days, including a bunch of comments completely unrelated to the feminism/HPMoR issue. It is intriguing what provokes controversy here.)

It is intriguing what provokes controversy here.

The only time I've been (or at least noticed being) mass-downvoted, it was immediately after having some slight involvement in a discussion of feminism or PUAistry or something of the kind, and making some comments on what, for want of better terminology, I'll call the pro-women side. I just went looking to see if I could find the incident in question to check my facts; I didn't (though I didn't spend ages looking) but did turn up a remark from someone else that they'd seen that happen. I think there is very good evidence for at least one LW participant who has made a habit of punishing people for feministish opinions by this sort of mass-downvoting.

Anyone got evidence of other topics that provoke mass-downvoting?

It seems to me that this isn't "controversy" but outright abuse, and the kind of abuse that merits severe sanctions, because (1) it poisons the environment for everyone and (2) it seems like an attempt at coercive manipulation and coercive manipulation is generally harmful. I would guess that the LW moderators can, with at most moderate effort, find the answers to questions of the form "so, who just downvoted 20 of JoshuaZ's recent comments?"...

As far as I know that feature isn't implemented. It would certainly be something that could be implemented if it turned out to be sufficiently desired. This would catch lazy mass-downvoters and force dedicated mass-downvoters to use a little more effort and patience.
I wasn't (for the avoidance of doubt) conjecturing that there's already a nice UI feature where you click a button and it says "wedrifid has downvoted JoshuaZ's last 20 comments" but, rather, that (1) the information is present in the system somewhere and (2) there are probably ways for a moderator to get it, even if they're less convenient than just clicking a button -- if they thought it worth the trouble.
It seems somewhat likely based on the first incarnation of the monthly karma feature. This part is the unlikely part. A (system) administrator yes, if (1). A moderator, I doubt it.
Yeah, you might be right; perhaps the only way of getting at it is querying the database directly.
Flash downvoting happens occasionally, and people post about it once in a while. I tend to get it when talking about MWI and instrumentalism, for example. I recall others mention it in connection with other topics. I agree that it is an underhanded tactics and a nuisance, but probably no more than that, and is hardly worth the admins' time or the potential effort of the code change required to log every vote or to limit the number of targeted downvotes per user per day or something, or to do anything semi-automated. There already is a trivial inconvenience of not being able to access the vote button from the user view, and I don't believe that a determined attacker will find it difficult to bypass more serious measures.
If this is not the kind of abuse of the system that a moderator should invest time in dealing with, where do you think the line should be drawn for their intervention?
A utilitarian approach would be to weigh the benefits of dealing with rare occurrences like this against those of other useful tasks, like getting bugs fixed, features added and what not. Not being one of the admins, I have no idea what the pressures are.
The reason why it might be a good idea for the admins to stomp on such behaviour isn't just that the behaviour is harmful in itself, it's to establish a culture of not doing that sort of thing. The votes must all be logged already (or something functionally equivalent) because the system already knows to stop you upvoting or downvoting the same thing twice. Providing a UI to make it easy for admins to look for mass-downvoting would be the trickier thing, and indeed it might not be worth the effort. Though, on the whole, I think it probably would be, in order to establish LW as the sort of place where that kind of thing just doesn't happen.
It couldn't be me. I had already downvoted most of your feminism politics comments on perceived merit at the time I noticed them in the recent comments thread so cannot downvote further. It was briefly intriguing once, three years ago. Now it is tiresome and predictable.
I applaud your patience and diligence. I couldn't muster more than a shrug and a "whatever" in my head.
Haters gonna hate.

I have seen many things in many years, and I'm pretty sure I 'grok the substance' of the feminist complaints. The problem is twofold:

1) Feminists pattern match for feminist issues, so they sometimes find issues even where issues don't actually exist, and

2) feminists have integrated feminism into their identity.

The end result is that even minor perceived issues can directly affect their identity, resulting in offense. It is not a good combination, making discourse difficult and littering the discussion landscape with hot-button triggers. It's a common political pattern - similar logic holds for many different 'righteous belief' systems.

Regarding your comment, "We can enjoy problematic things even while acknowledging they're problematic.", I personally feel that's more than a little unfair. In this case at least, the audience that finds it problematic is at best a vocal minority.

Perhaps "We can enjoy things that some people find problematic, while acknowledging that those people find those things problematic." While a less potent soundbite, I find it more appropriate.

Or perhaps even, "Some people will always find certain things problematic. That doesn't mean that it's anybody else's problem."

they sometimes find issues even where issues don't actually exist

Issues are subjective. Something that's not an issue for you can still be an issue for someone else.

For example, you have a problem with thakil's phrasing and have offered a "corrected" version. However, you've destroyed the point of thakil's sentence, which is that it's possible that ((Person A finds X enjoyable) AND (Person A finds X problematic)). I know from direct experience that this is true; I have been Person A in that situation.

If you have not personally been in that situation, it doesn't follow that another person has not, nor that they are somehow being "unfair".

Well quite. When I call this something problematic that can be still enjoyed, I find it problematic and still enjoy it! With regards to whether an issue exists or not.. I mean if readers can perceive it, then it exists. Eliezer can decide that the story he's going to tell is just going to alienate those readers, or perhaps he can make adjustments now or in future to avoid that. My minor concern is that in some of his responses I don't feel like he has quire grasped the substance of the complaints: the problems exist, and trying to argue that they do not is probably a hiding to nothing.

With regards to whether an issue exists or not.. I mean if readers can perceive it, then it exists.

How certain are you of this?

If told that a particular tune is present, a significant fraction of people will report that they can hear the tune when presented with recordings of white noise.

If told that a pattern is present, a significant fraction of people will find a pattern in a random distribution of points. (Constellations, for example.)

Indeed. When we are talking about facts about reality, then these kind of things become a problem. When we are talking about people's critical response to the text, then if someone has that response to a text, then its there for them at least. If multiple people do, then we can argue that a-there's something about the text which causes this reaction in a subgroup of people b-this subgroup of people would have this reaction to every single text. I assign b a lower probability because this is a reaction borne of particular chapters rather than the entire novel.
This could be an interesting way to measure mindkilling. Get people from different groups, let them hear white noise or see random points and ask them to report how often they hear/see messages offensive to their groups. (For example how often a fundamentalist religious person would hear/see indecent or satanic messages.)
Are we talking about whether or not a measurable phenomenon exists, though? I thought we were talking about a completely subjective kind of thing. You can control for whether or not people are judging levels of sound or patterns or physical comfort inaccurately due to some bias, but is there even such a thing as judging their own emotional reactions inaccurately due to some bias?
I don't think that it's judging their own emotional reactions inaccurately due to some bias so much as it is perceiving information in a matter that it results in an unwarranted emotional reaction due to some bias. A persecution complex is the standard example, I believe. If one is predisposed to believe that they are being attacked, then one sees it everywhere--sometimes they are noticing something real that is subtle enough that others don't pick it up, and sometimes they are (essentially) selectively interpreting the information to back up their preconceived notions.
I get something like that on an airplane or bus every once in a while. I usually spend about a minute trying to exert some control over the process, but I've yet to internally locate the on/off switch for that version of it. (it's not a normal ear-wig, which can be defused by forcibly thinking of a different arbitrary song; it's confined to what may or may not be the harmonics of the vehicle I'm on.)
Then it is an issue for them. Projecting the problem outwards is just that - seeing the problem where the problem isn't
Understood. I had not taken that meaning. In this particular case, I enjoy the work and do not find it problematic, but I acknowledge that other people may find it problematic, in the same way that I acknowledge that other people think vaccines cause autism and that homeopathic medicines work.
I agree, but I don't think you're quite groking his responses either. His main point is that it's an exercise in futility to apply critical theory to an incomplete work, in particular one that claims to be more complicated than Death Note; for all we know HG asked AD to help him fake her own death, or maybe she's been outsmarting everyone from behind the scenes all long. (Though I admit that both of these are unlikely, they would be within the level of "where did that come from?" that EY's already done)
Then he is simply incorrect. It's not just what you do, it's the way that you do it, at all steps along the way. Having an end in mind doesn't mean you can't be called out on the means.
Are you saying, in essence, that it doesn't matter whether this turns out not to be fridging in the end, because Eliezer could have chosen not to use a literary device that looked like fridging, and yet he did?
I think you are missing at least one of his key arguments. A fridging is defined by its purpose, that a female character died for the sake of a male character's development. And you can't judge an event's purpose within the story until you have the full thing in front of you and can see all of that event's effects, short- and long-term.

IMO, Hermione died because she was in fact the most admirable character in the book. The stakes in our fight against death are all the things that make life worth living, not nameless drones in the security detail dressed in red.

Ensign Ricky's friends and family will miss him as much as Kirk will miss Spock.
I believe the point is that the viewers don't.
Alright, the droid armies in "attack of the clones."
I think it would be prudent to wait until the story is completed to make those kinds of judgements. We simply do not know the intention yet.
That's ridiculous. That only serves to shut down discussion. Not only are analysis based on only part of the work fundamentally valid, they are exceedingly popular at the moment, and they are being participated in by the author. Akin's 9th law of spacecraft design states, "Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis."

Whether or not I agree with the conclusion, your argument here is weak.

  • Calling an opposing viewpoint ridiculous (with formatting for emphasis, no less) does not advance the discussion. It's just a way of saying "I disagree with you strongly enough to be rude about it".

  • Saying that analyses based on only part of the work are fundamentally valid doesn't automatically make it so. You have to actually justify your claim.

  • Popularity is no indicator of validity.

  • If Eliezer is indeed participating in critical discussions of unfinished works, that might make his objection to having the same done to his own hypocritical, but it still tells you nothing about whether doing so is legitimate or not.

  • You provide no evidence that Akin's laws of spacecraft design are relevant to this discussion. Having Googled them, I can't even imagine how most of them could be relevant here.

I do, however, agree that Michelle's argument can easily be used to shut down discussion, and that this is an issue that needs addressing.

Not my intention. I was attempting to say "Don't condemn the work as irredeemably anti-feminist or whatever before it's even finished." I see how I could have been misunderstood, though.
That would need to be qualified somehow - I don't care what the second volume of the rules of FATAL are, the system as a whole is irredeemably anti-feminist. I think this may not be a 'fridging' simply because we don't know what role it plays in the story yet. It may be a Damsel In Distress + Girl In The Refrigerator combo, and it may be something else. It could be both a DiD+GitR AND something else. It could subvert or twist the tropes (Hermione helps fake her own death). It could play them straight but make up for it in other ways (as is already happening with Minerva also gaining a level despite not being the typical beneficiary of this trope, but I'm thinking more so).
What if Hermione dying was NOT to motivate Harry? What if she died because it was her Destiny? She went to do battle with the troll, because it was her duty to die and be reborn as something greater than she was? It wasn't Harry's fault because she chose to be struck down, and will become even more powerful than we could possibly imagine? If it's all part of her plan, will you retract the critique?
I certainly will. Do you think there's any appreciable chance that Eliezer will do that, and it will be awesome? I'm not seeing it.
Possibly. It would depend on when and how that is presented in the story really. There is a problem with critiquing a work in progress which I am aware of, but I think its sort of inevitable with the sort of release schedule this story has.
Given how EY seems to have developed his overall plot out of what appeared in the books, this already isn't far from the truth.

I cried twice reading this. That puts it just below Humanism part 3 on my list of most touching chapters.


I cried for real for the first time in years, and it made me very confused/uncomfortable with my feelings.


Calling it now: Harry pulled off a double bluff. The rock is just his father's rock, and the ring is Hermione's transfigured remains. The ring (with inset diamond) registered as magical, so Dumbledore checked that the diamond was still his father's rock and not secretly Hermione's remains. But he didn't check the ring itself. This is a perfect, classic, trick. Harry is playing at just that one level higher...

But that relies on Dumbledore forgetting to check the ring, and since Dumbledore is very clever, that's a very big gamble for Harry to make. If he's going to carry around Hermione's transfigured corpse on his person, he should at least have it as something completely innocuous, like a button.
No. Then when Dumbledore waves his wand it goes bing-bing-bing when he gets to the button. With ygert's theory, it goes bing-bing-bing when he gets to the ring, Harry detransfigures the stone, and then (with non-negligible probability, at least) Dumbledore doesn't think to re-check the ring itself. I don't find the theory convincing, but if Harry were going to do something along those lines then using the ring seems smarter than using the button. (Better, for topological reasons, to transfigure Hermione's corpse into part of the ring. Otherwise, what happens if Harry's asleep wearing the ring and someone casts Finite Incantatem? Eww.)
Did you read chapter 93 yet? If not, go and read it before you see anymore spoilers. Otherwise, recall that Dumbledore used that magic-detector thing to check Harry's person and all objects in Harry's possession for if they were transfigured from Hermione's remains. Several things turned up magical, and those like Harry's emergency portkey were checked to see if they were transfigured from something else. When Dumbledore got to the ring, that detected as magic (of course) and Dumbledore suspected that rather than the diamond being his father's rock, Harry had secretly transfigured Hermione's remains into the diamond. But when Dumbledore dispelled the transfiguration on the diamond, it was the diamond after all. Thus, Dumbledore's check checked out, and Dumbledore concluded that Harry was not hiding Hermione's remains.

Good lord, Harrys parents are very good at this parenting gig.

The combo of the intellectual and the emotional appeal, in particular is a thing of beauty.

Let us see; Quite a few options were taken off the table in this chapter in particular because noone was missing, which rules out all the "substitute someone else" gambits people kept suggesting in a really impressive display of etics fail.

So Hermione got up and left. Or her body was absconded with. Correction: if she got up under her own power, she was most likely still absconded with, as otherwise she would have let people know she was mobile. I mean, even if she wanted to keep the world thinking she was dead to avoid further attempts on her life, she would want to tell Harry.


Quirrell hid the body. On the grounds that Harry would find it difficult to do anything stupid without a body to do anything stupid to.

Snape. Yes, I am still on about the oxygenating potion. Exotica in bottles is what he does, and heck, he even uses "put a stopper in death" as an example of what a master potioner can do. In which case, he is keeping her incommunicado to avoid whoever is responsible finishing the job with fiendfire.

Harry: Stasised the body, and hid it to avoid burial, autopsy, ect.

4Ben Pace
Chapter 93, just after Harry has spent two minutes with Hermione; McGonagall seeing Hermione And in chapter 53, Becomes In fact, perhaps Harry replaced the body, and them someone else stole a copy. Just a thought.
I had considered that he might have left behind the functional equivalent of that death* doll. I had considered that someone might have taken her body (the very first possibility to occur to me). I had not yet considered that he might have replaced the body and someone else stole the fake. If nothing else, I would not expect it to stand up to scrutiny. But damn, I really need to update on the basis of:
0Paul Crowley
I had thought he'd Transfigured the doll into existence from something commonly found in mortuaries.
Good catch.

From the Author's Note One Should Not Read:

I’ll state outright that at the end of the story Hermione comes back as an alicorn princess.

Here's the thing - based on both the tendency of characters in HPMOR to state the literal truth as a "joke" to hide the truth in plain sight (when asked where the real Quirrell is, the Defense Professor says "What makes you think I did not steal his body outright using incredibly Dark magic?"), and Eliezer's own admitted reluctance to speak outright falsehoods... well... this could be a joke. But (perhaps scarily) I'm putting a high probability on this in fact being true. Like, at least 40%.

Alicorn is the author of Luminosity, the rationalist Twilight fanfic, right? Could it be that this is to imply Hermione comes back as a vampire?

[ducks from rotten tomatoes]

This is as, previously mentioned, perfectly plausible. Harry injected her with something immediately prior to her death. The potterverse has vampires. Timeturning + a bit of stealthy substitution, and she may have died under the correct circumstances for rising undead. Given chapter 93, it would have to be the work of Snape, as the other players are all ruled out for time turning to the correct period, and making a shot of vampire blood look like an oxygen potion would not exactly stretch his abilities. Or he could have faked her demise with more conventional alchemy, but that would require him to either brew the necessary potion in <4 hours, or to just have it prepared already on general principles. (for faking his own death in extremis? Just general "Ways I could have saved Lily" brooding?) The main thing "vamping" has going for it is that vampires do die and come back, so that plan does not involve faking the death, and locating some vampire blood quickly is presumably simple.
Yep. As it happens, I have written no characters who are both undead vampires and also princesses. There is one princess half-vampire, but half-vampires in that universe are not a form of undead.
That would be an interesting crossover, Hermione coming back as Elspeth and inventing a knowledge pushing spell, radically improving the effectiveness of Hogwarts' classes.
Although, arguably full vampires are not very undead either.
The original vampires were definitely dead people who rose from the grave. The post-Dracula modern conception of vampire is not really the same thing as the eastern European legend.
Their hearts stop beating, and they stop needing to breathe during the turning process.
The same would be true of a real-world medical procedure that replaces the heart and lungs with support-reliable mechanical equivalents. (There are "heart and lung machines" but I believe they're cumbersome and greatly inferior to the natural organs they substitute for. I'm envisaging something much better than that.) Would you consider someone "undead" merely for having been through such a procedure?
My interpretation of 'undead' is that it is based on some form of vitalism....
Could you then give an example of what you would accept as a legitimate undead creature?
That's... actually complicated. Frankly, the cyborg zombie beetles of Professor Mahrabiz seem more undead than Twilight vampires. Decaying zombies are probably undead, and Harry Potter Inferi are definitely undead, as are Dungeons and Dragons undead (where the vitalistic dualism is very explicit.)
I wish I'd listened to the little voice telling me not to finish reading the comment. ETA: not because it was bad, but because now I'm going to wonder if she comes back as an alicorn. I listened to EY's warning and didn't finish his rant. I should have followed the same course here.
It didn't happen. She's just a unicorn noble, not an alicorn princess.
... or metaphorically...
Someone needs to write a Friendship is Optimal crossover.

It wasn't until the next morning that it was discovered that Hermione Granger's body was missing.

Just wait 3 days.

From the most recent author's note:

The story of HPMOR is built around the parallel-universe versions of those roles, and those roles (with one exception) retain whichever genders they had in canon.

What is the exception?


Nicholas Flamel, who is already known to change identities frequently, is the obvious candidate.

(And Flamel could also be Quirrell; Of the canon characters, there are four people likely to be as powerful as MoR Quirrell is: Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Voldemort, and Flamel. He's not Dumbledore; Grindelwald is probably still in Nurmengard; Voldemort is a distinct possibility, but that-one-infamous-post-we-all-know-about is, in my opinion, more likely to be a red herring than truth; Flamel is most likely. If Quirrell were not Flamel, Harry would be correct in assuming that Quirrell would kidnap Flamel if the stone were genuine. Lack of access to the elixir of life would also explain Quirrell's illness and the accelerated aging that Harry observed when Quirrell was in the infirmary. It also explains why Flamel knows that the Stone is hidden in Hogwarts. And if Quirrel/Flamel is female, that would explain how an attacker managed to intercept Hermione in the girls-only staircase. This theory also explains Eliezer's hints that a future story development will make it obvious that he is in no way shortchanging the female gender.)

I suspect that, if Flamel is Quirrell, the presence of the... (read more)

Could the troll have been female?
I'm pretty sure the exception is McGonagall taking over Hagrid's role, in addition to her canon role.
No, I think it was mentioned in an earlier author's note or something that Eliezer explicitly changed the gender of exactly one character (not role); furthermore, that character hadn't appeared by the time that author's note was written.
In fact, he said that it was the one character he had a choice with...
Another possibility is that Amelia Bones replaces Barty Crouch as the plot relevant hardcore anti-deatheater government official
Well, we don't have a child villain to replace Draco. I keep hoping Tracey will discover her ambition, and that it's to be something other than a running gag. Dumbledore nudged Hermione into becoming a true warrior of the Light. Quirrell got the Darke Lady with an E. He can't be happy with that.
...You know, given that the entire point of the previous chapters was how people can change roles, I probably should've realized that when he says roles, that doesn't necessarily map onto individual people.
The exception could conceivably be Blaise Zabini. From the TV tropes article titled "Ambiguous Gender" - It was not revealed until the sixth book that Blaise was male. While Eliezer chose to keep him male, he likely had the option to chose given the character's very uncertain past.
If I had to guess, I'd say Quirrell. He's a person of very many identities; there's no reason that the first one necessarily was male. The only problem with that is that Dumbledore still seems to think Voldemort was Tom Riddle (see Chapter 79) but as Voldemort is said to have changed twice in his career as a Dark Lord (after murdering the House of Monroe, and after the last Monroe vanished) it's possible that he was replaced and Dumbledore didn't notice.

If Quirrell or Voldemort is female, Baba Yaga's a good candidate for her identity. Baba Yaga has been mentioned twice for no apparent reason.

By Quirrell:

Past Professors of Defence have included not just the legendary wandering hero Harold Shea but also the quote undying unquote Baba Yaga, yes, I see some of you are still shuddering at the sound of her name even though she's been dead for six hundred years.

And by Dumbledore:

It [the sorting hat] told me that it was never again to be placed on your head under any circumstances. You're only the fourteenth student in history it's said that about, Baba Yaga was another one and I'll tell you about the other twelve when you're older.

Full disclosure: Upon first meeting Mr. Hat & Cloak I assumed he was Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga is pet theory, not a rational one.


Three times:

And I daresay that most wizards would be hard-pressed to name a single Dark Lady besides Baba Yaga.

(Chapter 70)

That said, I think Baba Yaga's just a shout out like Harold Shea, not an actual character in this story.

Baba Yaga has "been dead for six hundred years," and a quick Wikipedia search suggests the historical myth is first recorded in 1755, nor can I find anything particularly relating her to being from around ~1400. Nicholas Flamel is six centuries old (canonically, he was born in 1327), which means the Philosopher's Stone, if it exists, is around the same age. Not sure what kind of coherent theory you can come up with to put it all together, though... Voldemort = Baba Yaga seems a little... silly, especially given Quirrell talking about female wizard rapists, which, given that Canon!Voldemort is a rape baby and Quirrell is Voldemort, seems like pretty good evidence that HPMOR!Voldemort is a rape baby too. Maybe Baba Yaga is Nicholas Flamel's true identity.
Yeah, Flamel/Crozier timeline aligns with Baba Yaga. A similar timeline and region alignment is the book The Massacre of Albania in the Fifteenth Century, mentioned offhandedly in Chapter 26.
Maybe some ritual required not a sacrifice of (whatever), but the sacrifice of the user's dignitiy? Though Baba Yaga COULD just be flamel's wife. He has one in cannon, I...think...
The actual historical Nicolas Flamel was married. According to Wikipedia his wife does indeed appear [EDIT: no, apparently just "is indeed mentioned"; thanks, solipsist] in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Not exactly. She is mentioned in a couple of references to Nicolas. If memory serves, these are a biography of Flamel, and at the end when Dumbledore mentions that Flamel and his wife have decided to destroy the Philosopher's Stone.
That guy is real? Wow.
Most everything about him in MoR, except for the part where he's immortal, lines up quite well with the historical figure: he published his findings regarding the Philosopher's stone, diagrams included. Of note is that the supposed real-world philosopher's stone did not immediately give Flammel the results he wanted; according to the book published in his name, some years passed between him getting it to transmute silver and getting it to transmute gold. Historical Flammel also has an official grave site in France (Paris, if I remember correctly); I want to think he lived to his eighties, but it's been a few months since I last read about him. The book-supposedly-by-Flammel mentions a mysterious old mage that helped him along the way; I would expect myself to go "SQUEEEE!" if it turned out Flammel's mysterious old wizard got mentioned in HPMoR.
I recall hearing that "grave" does not contain a body, although I'm not sure how the person who told me that knew. (They were suggesting using him in fiction, much as HPMOR did.)
For more on Quirrell as Baba Yaga:
Last time I saw this conversation go round, fannish consensus was that the exception is Tonks.

Can't be- Tonks is referred to as a girl twice, plus another time out of universe (by word of God).

Chapter 73:

"Ooh, great question!" said the other Susan Bones as she rapidly skinned off what was left of her borrowed clothes. A moment later the girl began to Metamorphose back into her more accustomed form of Nymphadora Tonks.

Chapter 29:

"Did you know there's a girl in Hufflepuff who's a Metamorphmagus?" said Hermione as they headed toward the Great Hall. "She makes her hair really red, like stopsign red not Weasley red, and when she spilled hot tea on herself she turned into a black-haired boy until she got it under control again."

Word of God:

I've just decided to eliminate the "fourth-year" qualifier. I'd previously meant Ranma to be separate from Tonks, but on reflection it's kind of funnier if she is Ranma.

It's the role that went to a character with a different gender, not a character who was gender-shifted while retaining their canon role. I think.
1Ben Pace
Excellent evidence researching.

Have you considered Draco? This seems strongly implied by Chapter 7.

Draco is not only a girl, she was removed before being at Hogwarts 9 months, what with the baby almost here.

But then it's not mpreg!
0Ben Pace
Here's hoping its Dorothy Evans-Verres.

I want to speak up in defense of McGonagall, and Eliezer's treatment of her.

One of the central conceits of HPMOR is that, basically, everyone in the wizarding world except Harry and Riddle/Voldemort/Munroe/Quirrell are stupid. Yes many Order of the Phoenix members got slight upgrades from canon, but from their point of view they were still losing and it's pretty clear Voldemort could have defeated them easily at an early point except for some reason he didn't try.

Add this to the fact that while McGonagall screwed up, a bunch of allegedly responsible adults plus Harry watched her screw up and didn't correct her. When Harry chews her out, he implicitly chews out everyone; he sees himself as the only person capable of taking responsibility for what happened.

One of the central conceits of HPMOR is that, basically, everyone in the wizarding world except Harry and Riddle/Voldemort/Munroe/Quirrell are stupid.

One of the central conceits is that the viewpoint character, Harry, comes across as believing that everyone who has not earned his respect is stupid. But it is not really in the interests of most wizards to prove the full extent of their magical or reasoning abilities to every judgmental 11-year-old who comes along.

(I commented on this back in December.)

Well, "stupid" may be a little unfair in the case of Order members or Lucius, but there's clearly a big intelligence gab between Harry and Riddle on the one hand and everyone else on the other hand. It's not just lack of positive evidence that tells us this. We have Dumbledore's own testimony that he (and the entire rest of the Order of the Phoenix) was totally outmatched against Voldemort in the first wizarding war.

To be more positive, I really did like the letter from Harry's parents. In the previous chapter where Harry was thinking that he had ruined his relationship with his parents, I remember thinking that it was extremely unlikely that his parents would react that way. And, indeed, it was demonstrated that Harry's beliefs were based on his emotional immaturity rather than an accurate assessment of recent events. I wonder if Harry's undervaluing of the power of emotional bonds is in part caused by Quirrel's influence.

It's interesting that chapter93 is mostly Harry being shown that he is not, in fact, the only sane person in the world; his parents, the other students, and especially Minerva Macgonnagle all completely put his Slytherin side in its place. (That's the nice reading, anyway; Dumbledore and Quirrell's interpretations are worrysome.)

I hope we get to see Harry's Slytherin side updating itself.
Yeah, his Slytherin side has gotten too pessimistic. In fact, the Hogwarts students did about as well as could be expected for a random group of people. Using Milgrim stats, 35% of people don’t kill the innocent man when they have to press the button themselves and 7.5% don’t kill him when they’re just helping. In Hogwarts, Harry, the Weasley hive mind, Susan, Ron, and 7 random kids helped. And Neville and Lesath Lestrange each get half credit so that’s 12 people helping. That’s what you would expect from groups of 35 and 160 respectively. Since we are told there are a little over a hundred people there, Slytherin would have done better just going with social science based priors.

In the Milgrim experiment the subject would be the first actor to defy authority, but here Harry was already pointing out the problem and asking people specifically for help.

It's worth noting that in the Milgram experiment, there is no perceived punishment for failure to participate, just a polite repetition. Further, the Milgram experiment models willingness to stop acting in accordance with orders, rather that willingness to act against orders, which, while morally fairly indistinguishable, are psychologically (and legally) substantially different.

Your right that its not a perfect parallel, but I'm not sure which way that cuts. In Milgram there's no threat of punishment, but participants have to actively participate not merely stand by in a crowd. Also in Milgram they have to listen to the guy scream each time they press the button, instead of just imagine something off screen.
I think of Slughorn as the only real Slytherin in canon. The Pure Blood contingent are a bunch of posers who've forgotten that the purpose of dominance is to make your life better, not to pursue some ideal which has a noticeable risk of getting you killed.

Maybe we should try harder to decode the prophecies. For example, there was a cool theory on Reddit that "the very stars in heaven" refers to members of the Black family, who are all named after stars. In particular, Bellatrix might be feeling like she's in heaven right now.

But I'm more interested in the first prophecy. What does it mean that "these two different spirits cannot exist in the same world"? The word "cannot" seems to say it's impossible from some point of view, not just dangerous.

1) Maybe any interaction between H... (read more)

Or else "cannot exist in the same cauldron", which I like to take rather literally (hence my "Big Potion" theory which tears apart the stars not as a side effect but as an ingredient, and fails if quirrel interacts with its creation.)
It's a prophecy: information about the future. Maybe it's simply saying that either one could win, but there's no possible future where both exist (except for a remnant). Any "why" is a just-so story for human consumption; the raw prophecied fact is simply that fork in the road.
Contradicted by several statements that prophecies are for human consumption, and specifically for people who have the power to fulful or prevent those particular prophecies. See discussion of seers and temporal pressure.
In HPMOR prophecies are riddles:
I really like the idea of "the very stars in heaven" referring to the Black family for several reasons. For one, Sirius has been alluded to several times, but has not shown up yet. "He is coming" and "He is here" don't really seem like they could apply to Harry or Quirrell or anyone else we've actually seen at Hogwarts so far. The question of what happened to Sirius and Pettigrew in this reality is one of several dangling plot threads I expect the author to wrap up before ending the story, and Eliezer doesn't have many chapters left in which to do it. It seems likely this happens at the same time he answers what really happened in Godric's Hollow on October 31, 1981; and perhaps leads to Harry's final break with Quirrell. There are a couple of other dangling plot threads that could be wrapped up here too: why did the Remembrall light up, and what about Bellatrix? Secondly, although Harry's clearly interested in the source of magic and the nature of reality, the story becomes too much of a Monty Haul if he really does achieve star-destroying omnipotence. Stories about omnipotent beings just aren't very much fun (insert citations to several hundred Marvel Comics storylines of the last 30 years) and I think Eliezer is just too good an author to fall prey to that. On the other hand the story has huge amounts of interest and foreshadowing around matters of time: ComedTea where the future causes the past, time turners, prophecies, timeless quantum mechanics, timeless decision theory (used repeatedly by Harry but not identified as such by name) and I've probably forgotten one or two. I expect Harry to at least try something funny involving time to save Hermione. And if it works I expect we're going to realize we should have seen it coming. However I will be very disappointed if it's nothing more than a deus ex machina resurrection like Superman II.
There were some more direct hints that time travel was involved in events that already happened. In the story of Weasley's pet rat: In the dictionary attack on Hermione:
Forgive me if others have mentioned this idea, or if there is firm evidence that it isn't possible, but.. I've been thinking about this since early on. I know most people feel that Quirrel is Voldemort, but I keep wondering if he's a future, middle-aged Harry from an alternate timeline (but (probably) not the canon timeline). I wonder if Harry destroyed the his universe as prophecied trying to save Hermione, and then time traveled to make another attempt. However, this would cause a paradox, but there is a theory that time travel paradoxes can be avoided if one also switches travels to another universe. There are a number of things that make me think this, including: 1) "I don't suppose," said Harry, "that it's possible to actually swap people into alternate universes? Like, this isn't our own Rita Skeeter, or they temporarily sent her somewhere else?" "If that was possible," Professor Quirrell said, his voice rather dry, "would I still be here? " EY later tells us to pay attention to when Quirrell answered without answering. The implication is, "It is possible, and that's why I'm here." 2) At some point Quirrell is quite surprised when Harry explains how he thinks, or says that he wouldn't lie about something serious, as if it differs from his own memory of his way of thinking as child Harry. 3) There's the trope that time travelers can't touch their past selves without disastrous consequences (the sense of doom, and effects of their magics interacting). 4) Your examples above. Unfortunately, I have to run, but I have some more examples and will post soon, unless someone shoots this out of the water. EDIT: And this is, at least, his second possession, the first being the Weasley brother who thought the rat was Pettigrew? That would have been when future Harry realised he wasn't in his own timeline any longer.
And this is, at least, his second possession, the first being the Weasley brother who thought the rat was Pettigrew? That would have been when future Harry realised he wasn't in his own timeline any longer.
Good ones. At the time I read "Guy was convinced he was ninety-seven years old and had died and gone back in time to his younger self via train station." as being a shoutout to several other time-travel based fan fiction stories like Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, Oh God Not Again!, Backward with Purpose, and His Own Man; but it could equally well be hinting at a time traveler or two working behind the scenes in this story. Honestly, there have been so many time travel based stories that I really hope this doesn't turn into another one.
I took that part of the first prophecy as being about death and transhumanism (or some related idea). I'm not sure exactly how that maps onto Harry and Voldemort without relying on metaphors, though.

I'm having anaphor resolution problems. What does this sentence mean?

And an ancient wizard to whom that ward meant nothing gazed upon them both, the witch and the weeping young wizard.

I can't figure out what "that ward" refers to. If *that ward" meant "description", then it could refer to the adjective "ancient". But "ward" doesn't mean "description". Replace "ward" with "district", "department", "wing", "parish", "charge", "depen... (read more)

"Ward" almost certainly refers to the spells McGonagall cast to protect herself and Harry from public view.

7Eliezer Yudkowsky
Ack, several people complained about this. I've edited Ch. 93 to make it clearer (update should propagate shortly). The ward is Prof. McGonagall's vision-blurrer.
Yes, I flagged this too. I also considered the possibility that it's a typo, and should be "word", in which case it refers to "NO" or "forever". Spell checkers wouldn't catch it, and I know in my own writing I'm more likely to substitute a wrong word that I've used recently.

The episodic nature of this story is wearing on me a bit. I'm not talking about wanting to know what happens and having to wait for that knowledge to be doled out bit by bit. That's pretty much fine. It's the feeling that there's a grand overarching plot that's being distracted from by Plots of the Month. Even if the PotM do contribute to the overall plot--and they probably do--it feels like they do so in a rather meandering, patchwork way. Where's my beloved "use science to figure out the nature of magic, and use that to cure death for everyone" plotline? Will we finally get back to it now that Hermione's dead?


I feel the complete opposite. I want to read the serial story of "Ender Wiggin goes to Hogwarts" and his repeated elaborate schemes of awesomeness. I'm disappointed that it looks like this fic could end soon.

Look on the bright side. He might begin something new afterwards.

Reax to Chapter 93:

1) I loved the letters to Harry from his parents. Genuinely moving, and also surprising, because generally speaking people who Harry "puts in their place" in this fic tend to stay meekly chastened. (McGonagall is a glaring example, but Dumbledore and Snape have been treated the same way.) I was very happy that Harry's parents got a chance to respond, after all, and that they acquitted themselves so well.

1a) The difference in [s]James'[/s] Michael's and Petunia's letters didn't do anything to help HPMOR's overall treatment of ge... (read more)

I guess different readers see things very differently, because I thought that McGonagall was a total badass in this chapter.

When someone makes a major mistake, based on an accumulation of errors from years of acting on a distorted version of their values, it takes a high-level rationalist and an impressive level of control and insight to be able to acknowledge their mistake, clearly see the values that were distorted, and set a new course that repudiates their old ways and appropriately takes their values into account. To be able to do that within a few hours, publicly, when they learned of their mistake through a vicious, personal, inappropriate chewing-out, seems like it might require one of those rumored double rationalists.

Or, if you must view it as a Harry vs. McGonagall conflict, McGonagall kicks his ass. In precisely the way that he needed to have his ass kicked.


Minerva McGonagall, having submissively accepted her character assassination at the hands of Harry Potter, now submits herself for public humiliation and complete self-abnegation

I don't see it like that at all -- I saw McGonagall:

  1. Trying bravely to take blame away from Harry because, in her words, if she didn't, he would have no one to say those horrible things to, and

  2. Bravely taking a public stand for her principles, trying to turn over a new leaf (or as she put it, "trying to do better")

At least, those are pretty clearly how she sees herself in those situations, not as submitting to Harry.

(I interpret the discussion about House points as simply meaning she 1. doesn't care about the points to anybody but the Weasley twins, and 2. is trying to be more inclusive and trusting of her students.)

Fundamentally, regardless of out-of-universe complaints, McGonagall was wrong in the way she dealt with this problem, and by extension in how she dealt with Gryffindor House.

She has taken the first step towards becoming a PC in this universe, which is being rational and changing yourself to fix your mistakes.

... she may also have just learned how to lose.

No, I think we'll be seeing much more of intelligent!McGonagall starting now...

No, I think we'll be seeing much more of intelligent!McGonagall starting now...

Yeah, I don't get the complaints about "meekness" in Minerva. She showed more strength than she ever has. Some people see admission of mistakes as submission; I see it as having the strength to accept the truth, regardless of status considerations from ninnies who don't.

It's funny that you see McGonagall's changing her mind as a flaw, not a strength.


I do think it's a bit odd that he holds criticism of the work at this point to be categorically unfair, since he seems perfectly happy to accept praise.

This isn't accurate. He says that: if, in the event that your criticism is untrue, he is still unable to defend himself; then it is unfair to make that criticism.

I believe he has noted elsewhere that authors have no appeals against reader perception - that this is in fact the author's problem. Though I can't find a quote.
I don't think the chapter was supposed to be a slam-dunk answer. I thought it was supposed to be the beginning of an example (implied to be an extended process of character development) showing how reading an incomplete story can mislead you on specific points. I'm somewhat torn about this, because if everything the author writes leads you to one conclusion, he doesn't get to complain when you believe it. This holds true even if the work is already finished, because he doesn't get to make people finish reading. But I do tentatively expect later chapters to change the current anti-feminist message. Quite possibly Eliezer did miss something. For example, female billionaire J.K. Rowling said, "Hermione is a caricature of what I was when I was 11". Eliezer used her characters and world to (correctly) argue for his philosophy and against hers. He has frequently snarked at her. He made some readers ask why he was making her caricature sillier in the S.P.H.E.W. arc, and so inferior to his own altered stand-in. I don't know if he's thought these events through. Nor do I know what it would mean to miss this, as an author. At the same time, I think I completely disagree about the treatment of McGonagall in this chapter. Harry is the one giving a factually incorrect apology. And I do think she'll show more competence after this, subject to the constraint of being in a story where children save/end the world. (TV Tropes link removed for your protection.)
My thoughts exactly. When I read the chapter, I really didn't see why EY was so damn proud about it in that regard.

I really didn't see why EY was so damn proud about it in that regard.

Because Hermione's death was motivating a female character, not just a male one -- i.e., an answer to the "fridging" complaint.

(Hence the importance of pointing out it was written that way to start with, rather than as a "half-hearted sop" to patch the fridging issue. i.e., he's pointing out that he didn't kill Hermione just to get a rise out of Harry -- the death is going to affect the whole school, and Gryffindor in particular, through McGonagall.)

If you do something that looks just like a fridging in a story, to the point where people read it as a fridging, and it works as a fridging in the story so far ... if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck then it might be a platypus but it's not reasonable to tell people they're wrong to feel it's another bloody fridging. Authors don't get to do that - even if it was a preplanned fridging in the great arc of the story - and neither do those of their fans who think they can do no wrong.
I think perhaps you've misread the context of my comment. The grandparent comment asked why Eliezer felt chapter 93 was an answer to the critics, and I explained why. More precisely, I explained why he was concerned that 93 might be interpreted as an attempt to fix a perception of fridging. In a previous LW thread, someone defined fridging as killing off a female character solely to further a male character's arc; chapter 93 demonstrates that Hermione's death was not solely to advance Harry's arc: many other people are affected, most notably McGonagall. What I expect is pissing off Eliezer (or so I imagine, putting myself in his shoes) is far less the criticism of fridging per se, than the idea that he changed the story in order to avoid the accusation, when from his POV it was never a valid criticism in the first place under the given definition. Whether people "feel" it's a fridging is frankly irrelevant, since an author's control over people's feelings is rather limited. However, under the definition Eliezer's working from, as of ch. 93, people are in fact wrong that it's another bloody fringing. In addition to it not being solely to motivate a m