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Book Review: Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Genre: Fan Fiction
Book Name: Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality
Author: Eliezer Yudkowsky
Pages: 1983
Publication Year: 2010-2015

Fan fictions are not always interesting since they are derived from the main storyline that the author would have spent ages working on the plot. However, we have grown up reading Harry Potter (let us discount the last book – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and forget it altogether) and since there is not any book being released in future, one must feel happy with whichever good fan fiction book one gets theirs hands on. Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality is one such book which every HP fan must read (especially those who think Harry was an idiot most of the times).

Think of Harry as spending a happy childhood, more ingrained into the methods of scientific experiments and trying to work on magic. It is like a fabulous combination. You would know all the characters but yet they will behave so differently that the plot will seem like a parallel world from what J K Rowling wrote. The new story now has Hermoine as the heroine (still super intelligent), Malfoy still evil but open to rational thinking, Severus still the same but less evil, Minerva more meek, Dumbledore as a question mark personality, etc etc.

Some paragraphs are just too funny to ignore. Refer glimpse below:

Professor McGonagall turned into a cat…
Harry was breathing in short gasps. His Voice came out choked. “You can’t DO that!”
“It’s only a Transfiguration,” said Professor McGonagall. “An Animagus transformation, to be exact.”
“You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That’s just not an arbitrary rule, it’s implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signaling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can’t just visualize a whole cat’s anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the neurology? How can you go on thinking using a cat-sized brain?”
Professor McGonagall’s lips were twitching harder now. “Magic.
“Magic isn’t enough to do that! You’d have to be a god!”

However, the book gets tedious in between since the logic becomes too complicated and the chapters a drag. It becomes inexplicable by even the standards of a child prodigy, which by the way here is Harry Potter himself. And the place where Harry refers to science as being better than magic, yes, hold on to that thought and welcome the realism!

Book blurb:
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a 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 surprising results.

About the author:
Eliezer Yudkowsky is an Artificial Intelligence theorist who also writes on the topic of human rationality. He co-founded the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, a non-profit devoted to research and advocacy on the topics of Artificial General Intelligence, self-improving AI, and superintelligence. Yudkowsky was one of the founding directors of the World Transhumanist Association. He previously blogged on human rationality at the econblog Overcoming Bias and now writes at the community blog Less Wrong, which have together received over 7 million pageviews. Yudkowsky has appeared on the BBC, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel; and has presented at popular, academic, and government conferences and workshops.

Email: yudkowsky@gmail.com
Website: yudkowsky.net, hpmor.com

Rating: 9/10
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