seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Ch 1 - 72

I posted about the early chapters of this previously, and you can see my early assessment of this ludicrously popular fanfic here.

In the interim, there was a discussion on Usenet which culminated in this posting.

Because of that I was duty-bound to read at least the part completed up until that point.

I found a very nicely edited/typeset version of chapters 1-72 in a PDF (made by "some random fan of a fan") and during this vacation finally had the time to read it and discharge my obligation.

    I'm rather perplexed by the people who talk about laughing often in the story; I found very few moments I found very funny, after Potter's initial reaction to McGonagall turning into a cat. It is, as I said  previously, extremely well-written; there's some portions which genuinely sound like Rowling's work, despite the events departing farther and farther from the original. There's also a lot of thought that's going into it as a plot, and as a nod to various fandoms -- and I enjoy a number of the in-jokes which range from the absolutely modern
(Death Note) to golden-age pulp.

    I find, however, that I still don't like Harry much. The original Harry was likeable (or, during his middle teen years, tolerable) partially because he WASN'T a prodigy of everything, though clearly highly talented in several areas. His tremendous capabilities combined with twittish arrogance (sometimes justified, sometimes not) and sometimes STUNNING stupidity or blindness does get annoying after a while.

    I *really* like this version of Hermione, though, and it fits with much of my own interpretation of the character.

    The fic has certainly given me some additional ideas to slide into my Harry Potter RPG; and I was particularly pleased to see the comments
about how normal first years aren't at all what you get if you actually give them a chance to learn in a combat environment. (In my campaign,
the DADA teacher the first year was SUPPOSED to be Quirrel, but Something Happened and he was substituted at the last minute with...
Lucious, er, LUCIUS Malfoy. Who has -- to his own utter astonishment -- turned out to be both a capable and popular teacher after the first
month or so.

    I do, however, feel tricked. When I said "Sailor Gryffindor", I mean SAILOR GRYFFINDOR. Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof, not some stupid girl dressing up in a sideways reference to the original.  I was willing to accept that it wasn't going to be Hermione, but not that it
was in fact just a cosplayer, so to speak. It's as though I promised that Batman would show up in the next Jason Wood story, and what you got was Jason Wood donning a Batman costume for a couple minutes.

    Which reminds me of one really niggling bit of annoyance at Harry in one scene. A boy who AT LEAST THREE TIMES brings up Kimball Kinnison as an ideal in his own words or thoughts would never, under any conceivable circumstances possible in this or any other Visualization of the Cosmic All, look upon an actual Lens -- or even a really good fake -- without remarking upon it -- and most likely doing a double-take or facefault. The fact that Harry doesn't even react when exactly such an object is described to be present in the room he has just entered indicated that he must have no idea what that bracelet and its crystal signified, yet other incidents showed that not only did he HAVE to know, it was something with which he identified strongly and thus should IMMEDIATELY notice and react to.

    This is a personal reaction based on the fact that at the age of 11 *I* was a Doc Smith fanboy; my first online handle was "Kimball Kinnison", I  went to my first convention with "Kimball Kinnison" as my nickname, and if I had ever seen anything that even VAGUELY resembled a Lens I
would've done what is in modern parlance referred to as "squee".

   I am still fairly well convinced that Harry's "dark side" is Voldemort, or a piece of his soul (i.e., in this as in the prior books he is a Horcrux of Voldemort), which explains the ludicrous competence and adult dangerousness that he seems to exhibit when he lets that side out. However it's also pretty obvious that Quirrel is either a vessel of Voldemort or is working directly for him. This is one of the things that ALSO annoyed me. I'm sorry, Harry's mistrust of Authority has been carried to ludicrous extremes, to the point that a character he has -- explicitly and directly stated -- feelings of doom and danger associated with, every time he approaches that character, a character who also exhibits bizarre and suspicious behavior, becomes Harry's mentor -- a mentor he follows to the point of committing a crime of treasonous proportions.

    One would THINK that a super-genius rationalist would take all the known factors as input and decide that trusting this guy with anything in private is like testing the voltage in some wires by grabbing the wires with your soggy hands.

    Alas, much of the time this version of Harry sounds like a pint-sized Randite of the more fanatical stripe, the sort that (like Rand herself) is mostly confounded by the fact that human beings don't actually behave, for the most part, the way the theory declares, because they evolved from fundamentally NONrational beings, and that nonrational part is equally part and parcel of humanity. When he DOES react from emotions, he does so in a manner that is often directly at odds with his own declared rationality.

    Still, these are character-based objections, and as I have often observed, a person's reaction to character behavior is, well, PERSONAL. These things make Harry at best unlikable and at worst unbelievable TO ME, but may be very likable and realistic to other readers. As I've said before, overall the fic is exceedingly well written, clearly carefully plotted, and cleverly made.

One other thing HP&tMoR can mark to its credit is that it's a fanfic I have actually read to the end, or at least the end of the amount available when I downloaded it. I have written a lot of fics, but I almost never read them.

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