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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.


Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

Genre: Play-book
Book Name: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Pages: 327
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: Little Brown

Some books are not supposed to be published. Just like bibliophiles hate a movie when it is badly made out of a novel, in this case, it was the other way around. What should have simply stayed as a play, was written as a book, merely to cash in on the popularism of Harry Potter series. No comments on the play, since the reviews have still been glowing. But this book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, falls way below expectations. I completed reading it in 2 hours timefame and my takeaway is why so hullabaloo on Harry Potter and his son Albus, when clearly the winners were Draco Malfoy and his son Scorpius. The scenes in this book/play are so repetitive – like cut out from different scenes from previous “genuine” Harry Potter books. Even the way this is written has absolutely no emphasis on characters’ expressions or the storyline. The repetitive time travel  after two twists seemed like a farce and I felt like crying out loud. The writers and publishers should have stopped at 7th and the final book of the series.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

About the author:
J.K. Rowling is the author of the seven Harry Potter novels, The Casual Vacancy, and Cormoran Strike crime series. J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut and is a producer on the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the Wizarding World, due for release in November 2016.

John Tiffany directed Once, for which he was the recipient of multiple awards both in the West End and on Broadway. As Associate Director of the Royal Court, his work includes The Twits, Hope and The Pass. He was the director of Let the Right One In for the National Theatre of Scotland, which transferred to the Royal Court, West End and St Ann’s Warehouse. His other work for the National Theatre of Scotland includes Macbeth (also Broadway), Enquirer, The Missing, Peter Pan, The House of Bernarda Alba, Transform Caithness: Hunter, Be Near Me, Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, The Bacchae, Black Watch, for which he won the Olivier and Critics’ Circle Best Director Awards, Elizabeth Gordon Quinn and Home: Glasgow. Other recent credits include The Glass Menagerie at ART and on Broadway and The Ambassador at BAM. Tiffany was Associate Director of the National Theatre of Scotland from 2005 to 2012, and was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University in the 2010-2011 academic year.

Jack Thorne writes for theatre, film, television and radio. His theatre credits include Hope and Let the Right One In, both directed by John Tiffany, The Solid Life of Sugar Water for the Graeae Theatre Company and the National Theatre, Bunny for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Stacy for the Trafalgar Studios, and 2nd May 1997 and When You Cure Me for the Bush. His adaptations include The Physicists for the Donmar Warehouse and Stuart: A Life Backwards for HighTide. On film his credits include War Book, A Long Way Down and The Scouting Book for Boys. For television his credits include The Last Panthers, Don’t Take My Baby, This Is England, The Fades, Glue, Cast-Offs and National Treasure. He won BAFTAs in 2016 for Best Mini-Series (This Is England ’90) and Best Single Drama (Don’t Take My Baby), and in 2012 for Best Drama Series (The Fades) and Best Mini-Series (This Is England ’88).

Rating: 6/10
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