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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

4.47 of 5 stars 4.47  ·  rating details  ·  2,634 ratings  ·  279 reviews
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is an IN PROGRESS work of alternate-universe Harry Potter fan-fiction wherein Petunia Evans has married an Oxford biochemistry professor and young genius Harry grows up fascinated by science and science fiction. When he finds out that he is a wizard, he tries to apply scientific principles to his study of magic, with sometimes su...more
ebook, 1633 pages
Published (first published 2010)
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Mozamil Ashraf It's all one story. Looks like the story will only span his first year at hogwarts.
James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing by G. Norman LippertHarry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer YudkowskyJames Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper by G. Norman LippertJames Potter and the Vault of Destinies by G. Norman LippertSaving Connor by Lightning on the Wave
Harry Potter FanFiction
2nd out of 98 books — 208 voters
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer YudkowskyGödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. HofstadterThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Ravenclaw's Rationality
1st out of 56 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Imagine Harry Potter being replaced with a Harry Potter with combined talents of Ender Wiggins, Artemis Fowl and Yagami Light and put him in world much darker than Rowling envisioned. Yep, that's what this book was. No Ron or Hagrid to distract you, this is a Machiavellian Harry who manipulates people to his own ends, with powers the Dark Lord knows not, and the ambition for world domination (or, as he would call it, world optimization)

It is a HUGE book and still ongoing. Took me three days stra...more
AI researcher and decision theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky probably woke up one day and asked himself a single question: what would have happened in Harry Potter’s first year in Hogwarts, had he not been such an insufferable idiot?

You might not have considered him to be an idiot in the first place, but as the book progresses and the new Harry makes his way around Hogwarts, facing the same problems and situations, it becomes impossible to ignore the oh so logical and natural way he handles them this...more
Xi Xinghe
Recently I've been wondering just what exactly I wanted from literary fiction. Surely I did not expect life-changing epiphanies, at least not from every single book. But neither did I want my books be merely means to cheap escapism, which I had, perhaps mistakenly, long associated with genre fiction. Somehow I seem to be asking both too much and not enough, and therein lies the reason for my inability to rekindle the kind of pure unadulterated love I used to have for reading. No longer can I sim...more
I wanted to like this, honestly. When I stumbled upon it and read that description, I figured it was going to be brilliant. So naturally it wasn't. The author leaves a note saying if you don't like it by chapter five, wait until chapter ten, and if you still don't like it by then, get out. That's exactly what I'm doing.

This isn't the first book (so to speak) where the idea is wonderful but it's executed horribly. For starters, the writing is a bit sloppy at times, and when I say at times, I mean...more
Toby Toldya
Great idea; terrible execution. In fact, I think the summary is completely misleading. While some scenes had me laughing out loud, I spent most of my time cringing or raising one eyebrow or the other; HPMOR is saturated with Yudkowsky's blatant disdain and a condescending tone.

Characters are, for the most part, wildly out of character. Harry completely fails to act like an 11 year old boy, and reads like a thinly-veiled, sociopathic self-insert. Draco is also worrying sociopathic, even beyond t...more
I have never felt the need to take fan fiction seriously. They are, at best, exercises of creativity in a predetermined world, and the best of them usually do not stray too far from the established lore. As it stands, “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” is the only exception – it has hooked me in so deeply that I just cannot get out of the fascinating world that its author, Eliezer Yudkowsky, has created.

If you have always felt that Rowling’s characters, and vision of Hogwarts and magi...more
I can't decide if this was really good or really bad. As a novel (or the majority of a novel) it was pretty terrible. As fanfic it seemed pretty good (to me, which doesn't mean anything, because I am not the kind of guy that reads fanfic at all). I guess I'll go with three stars which seems to say both of those things at once.

Concept that I like: take 11-year-old Harry Potter, about to enter Hogwarts. Make him an incredibly astute and science-minded young boy, and then see just how he'd react to...more
Douglas Summers-Stay
Imagine if Ender Wiggen were put in Harry Potter's place, and the cunning of other characters upgraded in a similar way. Yudkowsky is a gifted writer, and he plays off the tropes of fanfiction and the idiosyncrasies of the world of Hogwarts in a way that transcends the genre. The books is at times laugh out loud funny, touching, inspiring, and always very smart. Writing fanfiction in order to get more people to read your blog about obscure logical fallacies!? You'd have to be a genius to actuall...more
Alliana Vivares
Alright, my first complaint is that it should warn readers that it contains sensitive issues. I almost choked on the chocolate I've been eating when I read Draco's nonchalant threat of rape. I mean, hello? Isn't he still eleven? And okay, maybe there are lots of open-minded eleven-year-olds in the world but saying that to an almost complete stranger is too much! Harry was very close to being bad here; it made me wonder what that idiot Petunia had been teaching him. He is rude to his elders, whic...more
HPMOR (as it's known to fans) is the perfect book for nerds: funny, clever, rife with allusions to other great nerdly works, and yet seriously capable of teaching something real. In this case, the real value-add are principles of reasoning that can lead to better decisions by genuinely emotional, non-Spockian humans in real life.

Shockingly, this story also has a plot. It runs roughly parallel with the HP canon, but the relationships are different and the entire arc of the Potter stories seems d...more
Jul 11, 2013 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: top
This is the funniest thing I have ever read. I have never read something this funny before. It was extremely difficult to do anything except read it until I had "finished" it, and now it's hard to do anything but think about it and wish there was a lot more of it for me to read.

I guess I'll just read some of his rationalist essay series instead!
A fun take on the Potterverse from someone obsessed with all the ways that humans fail to behave in ways that make sense - for a rather strict meaning of "make sense". Leaving aside the usual fights over the legitimacy of fanfic in general, the big question is how much Yudkowsky's Potter is an idealized author stand-in (a "Mary Sue", or "Marty Stu" in the parlance). My answer: Quite a lot, but not fatally. On the minus side, this Harry Potter talks and thinks quite a lot like someone in his late...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Although I think it's rather well-written for a fanfic (not quite good enough for a novel), Harry was too Mary Sue-ish. The main example of this is when 11 year old Harry creates a human Patronus that literally kills Dementors.

There is also a bit too much Dumbledore and Ron bashing for my tastes, plus Harry is extremely condescending.
Harry Potter + science + philosophy = slightly mind boggling + very entertaining

All of the above is true.

However, whether or not I have truly read this fan fiction is a different question. In one sense, I have read it. In another, I have not. The reason for my discontinuity can easily be explained. I have read all of this work that exists up to this point in time. However, this book is far from complete.

In any case, though, I will accept that I have "read" this book because I can't be "current...more
First novel-length fanfiction I've read all the way through to the end. Linked via --comments on the fic start about halfway down the page.

Our what-if here is: what if Aunt Petunia had begged Lily to magic her a better life (via, primarily, beauty), and Lily had done so? Petunia marries a brilliant professor instead of Vernon Dursley, and Harry grows up loved and educated instead of abused.

So: Harry is a Ravenclaw, and a prodigy, and intends to approach...more
Okay, so this gets tricky.
The first, say, ten-fifteen chapters were AMAZING. I was cracking up (I snorted my soda at pretty much the same times Harry hacked up his Comed-Tea) at the many absolutely hysterical moments that come up when Harry is a complete brilliant jerk with negligible people skills (he has them in theory- probably because he read about them- and he can manipulate, but otherwise...).
Then, by about chapter 15 (maybe not til chapter 20) I just started getting bored. The writing wa...more
I wanted to like this fanfic. As a mathematician and an atheist I should have liked this fanfic.

I didn't. The writing is poor (even for fanfic) and the characterisation worse. The author has turned Harry Potter into the most unsympathetic and unlikeable child I can possibly imagine - which I would guess from his bio is also a blatant Mary-Sue.

Should have been called Harry Potter, the Snotty Little Git.
Dont bother. There are better books teaching about bias and scientific thinking and there is better HP fan fic.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I mean, the premise itself was what got me hooked. I'm sure we all thought at least once that there was a little to be desired in the Plausibility and Possibilities department for the original Harry Potter series, so I jumped at the idea of a realistic story inspired by the methods of rationality! Turns out it wasn't so much inspired than it was drowned by it. Spoiler Alert: I didn't finish the book. Yudkowsky left a note about how the series hits its st...more
Feb 06, 2014 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: Elliot Reed
This is an enormous fan fic version of the beginning the the Harry Potter story, rewritten portraying Harry as a hyperrationalist.

Not worth five stars as a work of fiction per se, but fascinating enough to get bumped up to amazing because of several other factors:

•Folks with mildly compulsive rationalist and/or scientific leanings often have trouble with the nonsensical goings on of magical worlds. Occasionally Yudkowsky nails this so well that I was laughing convulsively. That the author somet...more
Jul 03, 2011 Besha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I read this simultaneously with Bruce Sterling's Distraction, and they’re a bit intertwined for me. They both feature male protagonists who are special by birth—Oscar Valparaiso is a clone with extrahuman abilities, Harry Potter is The Boy Who Lived And Was Then Raised To Be Rational. They both involve a lot of political maneuvering, interpersonal manipulation, and being terribly clever. They’re both quite funny.

This is a web serial, reimagining JK Rowling with a single point of divergence: Petu...more
Eric Herboso
Not only is this the best fanfiction I've ever read, it is among my favorite novels of all time, and so far I've only been able to read up to chapter 85.

This is a reimagining of the canonical novels of Harry Potter where the main character is extremely rational. Although he is a preteen, this version of Harry Potter has a mind on par with an extremely gifted 18 year old, and it shows. His nemesis, Voldemort, is similarly increased in intelligence by a dramatic amount. The Tom Riddle of this fanf...more
Adam Smith
At the time of this review the story is 85 chapters, and counting, long (longer than the actual books), and still within the timeframe of the first book.

An alternate world where the role of Harry Potter is played by a somewhat sociopathic Sheldon Cooper. Instead of marrying the repugnant mr. Dursley, Harry's aunt Petunia married a respected physicist resulting in Harry being raised in a loving environment where knowledge is praised and making the most of your life an acceptable goal. Harry appro...more
Faysal Subhani
Simply Brilliant. Arguably one of the best books I have read so far. Definitely better than the original Harry Potter itself. It's not meant to be a spoof, but an espousal of the author's philosophy of rationality. This book is so realistic, even though it's based on magic. It makes you reflect on life. Above all, it keeps you guessing till the very end because the author refuses to categorize characters in the book as being good or evil. And the best part is, the book is free to download from h...more
Waking Nightingales
With a mix of Evil Genius and the original Harry Potter this is not my cup of tea. Because it is actually a fanfiction that I couldn't finish on account of the wording, patterns, and over all writing of it. I loved the humor, and that was about it.
This is just a review for Chapters 1-62, and there has been a total of 85 chapters posted as of today.

This fanfiction is excellent. Not just excellent, amazing. Mildly ingenious in its concept, hilarious in its rendition, and most of all, worthy of the original books.

The logic is clever(not merely clever- scientifically sound- read the notes on the website if you don't believe me), the characters are likable.

Yes, it can get silly at times, from Harry throwing fits to the rather ridiculous level...more
Jul 06, 2012 Eva is currently reading it
Shelves: fanfic
Two facts
1.I loove the Harry Potter series and have reread the books so many times it's not even funny.
2.I've never read Harry Potter fanfic.

This fanfic caught my eye a couple of days ago and after reading just the first couple of pages I'm hooked.
Specifically, this statement from Professor McGonagall has me hooked:
"Hogwarts is quite capable of teaching the basics. And I suspect, Mr. Potter, that if I leave you alone for two months with your schoolbooks, even without a wand, I will return to thi...more
So nerdy, so wonderful! My favorite line is Harry's family motto, "You can never have enough books!"
Everyone should give it a try, especially if you aren't morally opposed to harry potter and sometimes like rationality.

Even if you don't want to get through the whole thing, if you take the chapters as short stories the first few chapters or 100 pages are a compete riot.

If you're a historian you'll appreciate his occasional appeals to historical occasions during his search for moral high ground,...more
I can't believe I'm reading fan-fiction--Harry Potter fan-fiction, no less--and enjoying it.

It's didactic, it's Mary Sue-ish, it takes itself too seriously at times and not seriously enough at others, it turns Dumbledore into a straw-man deist, it's too clever for its own good, and it drops in too damn many anime and sci-fi references--but I love it. Who knew rationalist-Harry could be so much fun?
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From Wikipedia:

Eliezer Shlomo Yudkowsky is an American artificial intelligence researcher concerned with the singularity and an advocate of friendly artificial intelligence, living in Redwood City, California.

Yudkowsky did not attend high school and is an autodidact with no formal education in artificial intelligence. He co-founded the nonprofit Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence (...more
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