Archive for October, 2012

Rational magic

2012/10/29

I like to think of myself as a rational person. This is an uphill battle for someone like me, a conglomerate of biological systems jury-rigged one on top of the other since my ancestors were worm-like proto-chordates. But it’s a battle worth fighting.

I also like science fiction and fantasy novels. To some, this seems to conflict with the rational, truth-seeking, reality-loving side (though in fact it only encourages and reinforces it).

Well, now both sides of my geekiness can wallow in a new realm of literary and logical deliciousness.

Imagine this: some tiny event in Harry Potter’s past means he grows up among scientists instead of among vindictive, spiteful relations. When his letter from Hogwarts comes, he responds not with open-mouthed wonder but with the skepticism of a rational materialist. (This is without changing a jot about how magic actually works in Rowling’s universe, mind you.)

This is the premise of Eliezar Yudkowski’s fan-fiction epic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It has been underway since January last year, and is now up to 85 chapters (and counting). I blasted through them all in a dreadfully short time, and am now waiting impatiently for the next installment. I am thinking of starting at the beginning and listening to the podcast version, just to fill the time.

If you liked Rowling’s Harry Potter books at all, and seriously want to improve your rationality, then I can only imagine this will be a delightful romp for you.

But then, it is a stretch for me to imagine anyone not enjoying Rowling’s books for any reasons that are not sad and dogmatic. And I find it difficult to sympathize with anybody who doesn’t want to improve their own rationality.

Yudkowski has preserved the tone and spirit of the original books quite nicely. Anyway, I’m not going to waste any more of your time, or risk dropping any spoilers. Go, check it out. Let me know if you like it.