The Ordinary Bookclub makes its Triumphant Return with Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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  1. Jaybird says:

    I figure we’ll come back to this, oh, every Sunday.

    So if you are tempted to participate, just go to the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality link and read the first five chapters before then (that’ll get you to when Harry meets Lucius Malfoy the first time in Madam Malkin’s Robes). Then, next week, you can tell us either “ugh, no freakin’ way” *OR* “dang it, I’m on chapter 23”.

    Hope to see you there!Report

  2. J_A says:

    I loved HPMOR. I found about it from Slate Star Codex, at a time when the story wasn’t yet finished (we were in THE QUIDDITCH GAME if I recall correctly) so I got the “pleasure” to have to wait for the weekly updates until the story finished.

    It was Harry’s home life what hooked me. I, too, lived in a household where there couldn’t be enough books, and I wished Harry’s dad had been my dad (mine died when I was six, so I’ll never know if he could have been). Luckily, at least Harry’s mum was very much like my mum.

    And, every time I reread HPMOR I notice a lot of allergens around me when I read, in Chapter 7, “It was a really, really, really good try.”Report

  3. KenB says:

    I really enjoyed HPMOR — it sucked me in immediately, and while it wasn’t without its flaws, it was the first book in a long time that had me staying up until 2AM because I couldn’t bear to stop reading.

    My favorite aspect of the book was the way it took the Rowling world elements and applied real-world analytic methods to them — especially the bit about gur cbffvovyvgvrf sbe neovgentr orgjrra gur zhttyr naq jvmneqvat pheerapvrf. I’m rather disappointed in myself for not coming up with that on my own.

    I was never able to convince my family or friends to read it, so I’m looking forward to this virtual book club – thanks for doing this!Report

    • Jaybird in reply to KenB says:

      I enjoyed Harry’s realizing how many exploits were possible between The Muggle World and The Real One… and how he realized that he only had but so much time to exploit stuff, given all of the other stuff that was going on.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to KenB says:

      There’s a lot of fanfic that address the exploits Harry noticed, including the money thing. And others. Rowling’s world is weirdly unbalanced if you power-game, and there’s a lot of unexplained loopholes.

      Fanwanking how these things actually work and why they aren’t really game-breakers is a lot of fanfic. For example, MHPMoR goes into a _a lot_ of work to explain how Transfiguration isn’t actually game-breaky as it seems…it’s game-breaky in other, weirder ways. Heh.

      However, using those game-breakers _as_ game-breakers is a lot of fanfic also. Like HPMoR

      A lot of examples of over-powered things would spoil some stuff Harry does in HPMoR, so for an example of one that doesn’t crop up in the book, (because Harry doesn’t ever hear of it), is: What exactly is the rules for the Goblet of Fire, and what exactly forces people to participate in the Tri-wiz?

      There’s at least one funny fanfic (and probably more) that assumes the idea is ‘lose all your magic’ and has Harry rig up a new Tri-wiz tourney a few years later with some people from other schools, and putting in Voldemort’s name and then they have some trivial Task that he fails to show up for (Fly on a broomstick around the astronomy tower, IIRC, or something equally stupid.), causing him to forfeit and lose all his magic.

      Addition: Oh, and there are equally funny fanfics that parse ‘must attempt the task’ in hilariously pathetic ways that Harry uses to get out of tasks. On purpose. Like, he needs to steal the dragon egg, so he tries to summon it. That fails, so he’s done. He technically tried.Report

  4. J_A says:

    And there is the second year fanfic of a fanfic: Harry Potter and the Memories of a Sociopath.

    Not as good, by any stretch but quite an interesting take on the HPMOR Harry’s personalityReport

    • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

      I saw that it wasn’t written by the same guy so my head said “fanfic of a fanfic”… but on your recommendation, I will check it out. After the bookclub concludes. (Remind me!)Report

  5. Fish says:

    Ok. So. I’ve read the first five chapters and I’ve read enough of this post to 1) stop and wonder if I should read more of the MoR before reading the book club posts, and 2) see that Jay has completely misunderstood Hermione.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Fish says:

      Hermione was a muggleborn. She didn’t have any connection to Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts prior to meeting up with her besties on the train.Report

      • Fish in reply to Jaybird says:

        Hermione was a crusader. Righting the wrongs. Protecting the weak. Punishing the evildoers. She’s totally Griffindor.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Fish says:

          She wasn’t when she was on the *TRAIN*. She grew into that.Report

          • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

            I agree with FISH here. Hermione would not become the Hermione of HPMOR (or of Rowling’s original flavor HP)ater if she hadn’t been that Hermione already by the time the Sorting Hat looked at her mind. She totally belongs in Rowling’s Gryffindor.

            However, HPMOR’s Gryffindor is not the Original Flavor House. It’s a house of bullies, the house of James Potter and the Marauders pranks and their bullying of the Half Blood Prince. HPMOR’s Hermione does not belong in that houseReport

            • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

              But we’ve established that the Sorting Hat has, for lack of a better word, conversations with the students (once on their heads) and takes the students’ desires into consideration.

              What conversation did Hermione have with the hat because she got socialized by Ron and Harry that she would not have had without talking to them first?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird You vastly underestimate how freaking brave and daring Hermione, a Muggle with loving and supportive parents that she was taking her first (GIANT) step away from, had to be to *get on that train in the first place*.

                Her life was good and she was willing to take any risk because she wanted more than what she had, to do more and be more and yes, learn more, than what she could otherwise.

                That all happened before she ever got on the train.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                My argument is not that she didn’t fit into Gryffindor (obviously she did), my argument is that she was socialized to want to fit in there rather than socialized to want to fit in Ravenclaw and the socialization happened because of Ron.

                Without Ron, Harry doesn’t have a preference. Without Ron and Harry (and Neville, for that matter) swaying Hermione, I don’t see why she doesn’t see Ravenclaw as the House for the kids who actually give a crap about doing their homework and having the preference to that be prior to her manufactured preference to Gryffindor.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                I feel it is time to introduce the Sorting Hat Chats to you guys.

                Basically, the concept is that everyone’s actually in two houses, in two different ways. They have a house that tells then what outcomes they desire, or to put it another way, what they ‘value’. (This is called ‘primary’ although that term is somewhat random)

                They also have a house that tells them how to get those outcomes. (Called ‘secondary’ although, in reality, it’s probably more relevant to their character than the primary one.)

                Almost all debates about what house someone should be in can be resolved by just noticing that ‘intent’ is not the same as ‘method’. People can want widely different goals and try to accomplish them in the same way, or have identical goals and try to accomplish them via entire different methods.

                Gryffindors primaries have what is called ‘steadfast intuitive morality’. They just ‘feel’ what is right. All the Trio have this.

                Harry is a Gryffindor/Gryffindor. The first means he believes in whatever his gut says, and the second means he will just run in and try to fix problems, often by breaking things.

                Hermione is a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw. She wants the same outcomes as Harry, she feels that the world works by having some sort of inate source of justice, that certain things are right and certain things are wrong and she just knows which is which. However, instead of what Harry does, she uses Ravenclaw methods like logic and intelligence to try to accomplish those ends. Think about at the end of OotP, when Harry is trying to rush to save Sirius and Hermimoine’s like ‘Uh, wait’.

                Ron is also Gryffindor/Ravenclaw. He does the same thing, just…not as noticibly as Hermione, due to his inferiority complex and the fact that Hermione tends to be quicker on her feet and has the adventage of both a Muggle and Wizard perspective. Whenever he’s given the chance to actually pause and think, he does actually logic things out. (This, of course, does not always mean he comes to the same conclusions as Hermione. Just that he applies logic.)

                Ravenclaw secondaries, confusingly, can ‘model’ other secondaries. I.e., when Ron and/or Hermione logically decide that acting like a Gryffindor secondard is the best way to get the outcome they want, they’ll shift gears and run around like Harry. They Ravenclawly decide to solve problems like Gryffindors.

                Hermione has also shifted into Slytherin gear a few times. so much people sometimes assert she actually is Slytherin. Like with Rita Skeeter, deciding that the best way to deal with an unscrupulous person who was breaking the law is to break the law right back at them is textbook Slytherin secondary behavior, but it’s not how Herminone actually thinks things should work. It’s just the Ravenclaw conclusion she came to in that specific circumstance, that the only way to deal with that Slytherin was to out-Slytherin them.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                I was responding to
                “She wasn’t when she was on the *TRAIN*. She grew into that.”

                No, she was that on the train. As evidenced by the fact that she got onto the f’ing train. The desire to do new things by taking huge risks is the baseline Gryffindor trait, whether for good or ill. She’d already *demonstrated* that trait. She did not need some dude to *socialize her into it*.

                If your argument does not consist of what you said to Fish, but instead some other argument that you have now adjusted to, fine.

                But you can’t expect me to read your mind and argue with the thing you meant to be saying instead of the thing you actually were saying.

                If you’d been saying that she was obviously fine material for Gryffindor or Ravenclaw all along, but what happened on the train is what proved the tipping point for where she actually ended up, well, that wouldn’t be necessarily something I agree with, but nor would I have objected. Much as I didn’t object to what you said in the post until you “clarified” by telling Fish what you did.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hufflepuffs-to-be got onto the train too.

                Nyphadora Tonks, for some reason, got sorted into a house that wasn’t Gryffindor despite the fact that she got on the train years prior.

                If your argument does not consist of what you said to Fish, but instead some other argument that you have now adjusted to, fine.

                Then go back to the comment that I made prior to the comment you’re looking at. The one where I said “She didn’t have any connection to Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts prior to meeting up with her besties on the train.”Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird You’re wrong that she didn’t have any connection. She had the letter and the process of deciding to go.

                But also, connection or not, she already had the traits that the sorting hat recognized when it sorted her. One chance conversation on a train didn’t make all the difference. It probably made *a* difference, and another conversation could have made another difference, but it isn’t just a matter of being a freaking malleable blank slate.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                @davidtc As a Gryffinpuff of long standing, I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of mixed houses. I think the chats system is too rigid, but then, as a Gryffinpuff, it’s unsurprising that I would.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m not arguing that she was a blank slate. I’m arguing that had she not been socialized by Ron and Harry (and Neville), she would have ended up in Ravenclaw.

                That doesn’t make her a blank slate.

                It’s pointing out that there is nature *AND* nurture at play in who we become and if our closest peers are different than we will evolve differently.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                “she would have ended up in Ravenclaw.”

                There’s a big difference between arguing that she could and arguing that she would.

                Would is, as you have been doing throughout, ignoring her own agency. Given that Hermione is quite strongly agentic, it is a particularly glaring omission.

                At the moment, you appear to be switching back and forth between blank slate and determinism. Which I suppose makes sense since denying agency is the thing that both positions have in common.

                Though you’re claiming to be in the middle, I don’t see it, I see the switches back and forth.

                Perhaps if I tilt my head at the right angle, the lenticular effect will go away and your position will cohere for me.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Would is, as you have been doing throughout, ignoring her own agency. Given that Hermione is quite strongly agentic, it is a particularly glaring omission.

                Given what we know about Hermiones in real life, it seems fairly likely that Ravenclaw would appeal to the kids that measure success in studying.

                Which, seriously, she did. Those were her priors until she was socialized otherwise by meeting her soulmates on the train.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird No, she didn’t. She fell back on her success in studying as a reliable thing to hold on to in the face of a very new and uncertain situation. That’s very different than making it her central value and then being guided, pardon me “socialized” (i do not think that word means what you think it means) to prioritize something else through a chance encounter on a train.
                So that she could forge forward into the new and exciting adventure.

                I’m so tired of people getting Hermione wrong when there’s so much textual and authorial evidence that to me her character is glaringly obvious.

                Someday I may even be driven to write an essay about it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                She fell back on her success in studying as a reliable thing to hold on to in the face of a very new and uncertain situation.

                And I would say that, without receiving new information to the contrary in the meantime, she would continue to do so in the face of the Hat.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Hat doesn’t work like that. Maybe in the movie it did, but in the book it doesn’t. People feel safe with it and tell it their truest aspirations. What they *want* to be the face they show to the world, not their security blanket.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Here’s the scene from the book:

                The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black inside of the hat. He waited.
                Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent, A my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting…. So where shall I put you?”
                Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
                “Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!”

                Hermione’s scene is a little bit earlier.

                We don’t get a particular insight into the conversation there. Here’s the entirety of the scene:

                Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.
                “GRYFFINDOR!” shouted the hat. Ron groaned.


              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:


                “Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.”

                Does that sound like someone who is in security blanket mode? Does that sound like someone who is at all conflicted / pensive / analytical about what really matters to her or like someone who rushes bravely forth no matter what?

                And do you *really really* think that one damn conversation is what made her like that, not the rest of her life before she got to Hogwarts and/or whatever innate potentialities she has?

                To be really crude – she’s a fishing author self-insert character, I’m fine with accepting the author’s judgement on whether or not she wanted to be a Gryffindor of her own accord or because some dudes told her what to want.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I didn’t say that they told her what to want.

                I said that they gave her information that, to that point, she didn’t have. Like a Good Ravenclaw, she took that new information and, weighing it, saw that it was sufficient to change her mind.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Sorting House Chat system isn’t the same thing as mixed Houses. In fact, it’s explicitly designed to exclude the concept of being halfway in one house and halfway in another, by splitting all the Houses into two aspects and sorting people twice. There’s no such thing as being part in one house and part in another.

                Everyone has one fundamental system (Gut feeling, a system of moral rules, loyalty to their group, whatever is best for themselves) that they use to determine what goals they should attempt to reach, and everyone has one fundamental system (Acting immediately, advanced planning, relying on friends and reputation, shifting to whatever works) that they use to determine how to reach said goals.

                Exactly one fundamental method for each. No halfway measures. There are two entirely different determination, and you can basically find any combination in the series.

                The confusing bit is that the two parts share the same name and people can be places by the sorting hat by either. It’s usually their Primary, but sometimes not. Draco, for example, is a Hufflepuff/Slytherin. (He determines his goals by loyalty…which is to his family and the ‘right kind’ of wizards. Then he uses whatever he can to do those things.)

                Hermione could have correctly been sorted into Ravenclaw, not because she’s some percentage of Ravenclaw, but because of how she (and Ron) solve problems, via planning, making Ravenclaw her Secondary. But she was instead sorted into Gryffindor because that’s her Primary because of how she determine right from wrong.

                Although Hermione hilariously often _pretends_ she’s a Ravenclaw Primary at the start of the series, in that she pretends she values following rules over doing ‘what she knows is the right thing’. But she always immediately caves. Literally seconds later. Later, she gives up on this pretense entirely.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to J_A says:

              I’m seconding Jay in this thread. Hermione was presented as the honors student of the trio before she became the fighter for justice. There isn’t any textual evidence she found leaving home to study at Hogwarts scary at any time. Rather, she always found it to be a grand adventure that she was excited about. The decision to put her in Griffyndorf was because of plot needs.Report

              • Maribou in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “Rather, she always found it to be a grand adventure that she was excited about. ‘

                Yes dude, finding leaving home for a completely unknown world to be a grand and exciting adventure, rather than focusing on its terrors (which, actually, she’s quite frank about *textually* in later books, looking back at her choices) is A FORM of being brave and daring.

                You’re arguing that the very things that make her brave and daring are irrelevant to her bravery and daring.

                Bravery and daring are the foundational trait, not eyes-on-the-justice prize, so I suppose Fish was a bit wrong there. (That’s why, in Rowling’s writing, James and the rest of the Mischief club can be both assholes AND real Gryffindors.)Report

              • Fish in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I’m cool with that. She knew what she wanted when she got on the train. Five minutes with Harry and Ron and Neville were not enough to sway her one way or the other. You could look at this as the strength of her character (literally and figuratively) or you could look at this as utility. Either way, she’s Griffindor all the way.Report

  6. dragonfrog says:

    Oh I am IN.

    I like the idea behind the Harry Potter series enough, and dislike their execution enough, that this sounds fantastic. I have a foot in the “yay Harry Potter revisionist fiction” camp, and a foot in the “you might well like this is you actively disliked the HP books” camp.

    I’ll probably miss the first Sunday deadline though, as I’m traveling until late in the week.Report

  7. James K says:

    By the way, if you prefer your media in podcast form, ther eis also a podcast of HPMOR, which can be found here:

    The podcast covers other fiction as well, but the HPMOR episodes are all properly marked.Report

  8. Michael Cain says:

    How many times has the Ordinary Bookclub been resuscitated? I was poking through the archives for other reasons and came across an Erik Kain post from 2012 announcing its return….Report

  9. J_A says:

    The character I miss in HPMOR is Luna. Because HPMOR takes place in the first year, Luna is not yet at school (she plays a key role in Memories of a Sociopath, just saying).

    Luna is one of the most interesting characters of Rowling’s universe. I would totally read a series of books telling the story from her PoV. She’s probably more Gryffindor than Ravenclaw, and, for I while, I thought she could become Harry’s endgame, instead of Gynny.

    Non-possessed-by-Horcrux Ginny, on the other side, it’s a totally flat character. We get to know absolutely nothing about her. Even the Patel twins are more developed. She is just one more background noise Gryffindor girl that’s good at Quidditch. He becomes Harry’s girlfriend (and wife) just because Harry couldn’t date, song, and marry his true significant other: Ron. At least not in Original Flavor Harry Potter books. Since Ron is off-limits, Ginny, the only Weasley girl, will have to be his surrogate.

    Likewise, Ron and Hermione. There’s nothing in the early and middle books where Ron and Hermione have anything else besides Harry connecting them. They never search each other. You never see them hanging around by themselves. There’s nothing they can talk about (Ron doesn’t read, and Hermione doesn’t do Quidditch). They become friends by being both Harry’s true friend. They become romantically involved because both need to be close to Harry.

    To/dr Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, are ridiculous pairings that don’t make sense for the characters. Harry and Luna would have made much more sense. And Hermione would be much better with Cedric (or Even with Victor Krum, who at least had a more upper class upbringing – yes, Hermione is posh)Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to J_A says:

      +100. That is a spot-on critique of the original. Rowling utterly dropped the ball on the romances. She seemed to be completely ignorant of how much sense a Harry-Luna pairing would make and Gynny is absolutely a Ron-surrogate. Hermione+Ron only happened because I guess she felt the need to take their stories to completion and that means romance. Never mind if there was nothing there.

      Ron+Harry absolutely would have made sense, but I guess the world was ready for that.

      Anyway, I agree. I wish HPMOR had more of Luna, and I wish the Rowling’s HP had more Luna. That said, I definitely didn’t miss RonReport

    • Maribou in reply to J_A says:

      “Since Ron is off-limits, Ginny, the only Weasley girl, will have to be his surrogate.”

      I grew up somewhere with a lot of Catholic large families (Irish / Scottish descent) and I saw this marriage pattern a lot. Siblings often do have very similar personalities, and it often crossed my mind as a skeptical teenager that some bloke was basically marrying his best friend, only the “with boobs” version.

      Likewise, sometimes opposites really do attract, especially if you throw shared trauma into the mix.

      But realistic marriage patterns do not make for maximally satisfying fiction.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to J_A says:

      I actually thought the Ron/Hermione couple made sense in the same way that the shlubby guy married to a woman way out of his league in sitcoms makes sense. Ron isn’t exactly a shlub but he is dating up.

      Harry and Ginny are both jocks but that romance needed a lot of work done. I suppose it was thrown in because Rowling wrote the conclusion first and forgot to develop a backstory. Plus, the hero always needs a love interest.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to J_A says:

      While I won’t argue that Harry/Ginny isn’t that great a pairing, and I think it’s interesting that Rowling left them _apart_ pre-time jump so we didn’t actually have to see how they got together again, I have to entirely disagree about Ron/Hermione. At least a major part of what you said. Because ‘You never see them hanging around by themselves.’ is a silly claim.

      The POV is Harry. We basically don’t see anything that happens with them without Harry. But stuff does.

      For an obvious example, Ron and Hermione went to every single Quidditch match together, at least until he made the team. We don’t normally see this, except when they’re lighting teachers on fire, but they clearly did, so much so that Hermione automatically goes with Harry when he’s temporarily off the team. No one even comments on how *gasp* Hermione went to Quidditch. (In fact, for something else I take issue with, Hermione doesn’t ‘dislike’ Quidditch. People who dislike Quidditch do not go to the Quidditch World Cup. She just dislikes her friends talking about it all the time and taking it so seriously. I.e., she’s a casual watcher and they’re fanatics and get annoying.)

      And it seems odd to assume Ron and Hermione didn’t hang out during Quidditch practice, too. Neither Ron nor Hermione actually has any other friends they would be hanging out with…and no, there’s no evidence she runs off to the library and sits there reading when Harry is not around.

      And other times, we find them together. In Prisoner of Azkaban, we first run into Ron and Hermione eating ice cream together, alone. Actually, let’s check the list: In Order of the Phoenix, Hermione spends the entire summer with Ron, without Harry. And she’s already there when Harry gets there in HBP for no reason that is ever explained. (Seriously, why is she already here?) And she’s also there in GoF _and_ DH, although that was more for logistic reasons.

      Huh. Literally every year from 3-7, Harry meets up with Ron and Hermione at the same time, because they’re already together, without him. Weird, I never noticed that before.

      That’s just examples of Ron and Hermione hanging out with each other. Without Harry. That Harry noticed. Not heroic stuff together, which they also did a surprising amount of. For example, in HBP and DH, they have an offscreen adventure together during the climax…they actually have two in DH, if visiting the Chamber of Secrets counts as one.

      But we only (generally) see what Harry sees, and Harry, obviously, isn’t there when he’s not there. But we see stuff showing they’re good friends even without Harry onscreen, also. Goblet of Fire has Hermione trying to play peacemaker between Ron and Harry, and get annoyed with dividing all her time between them. If Ron wasn’t her friend, that seems unlikely she’d be bothering to spend time with him without Harry.

      And that’s just the unequivocal examples of them being ‘friends’ without Harry. There’s also the way that the two kept trying to ‘manage’ Harry later on, as they try to keep from Gryffindoring himself to death. There’s a lot of points in the series where it’s pretty clear (at least to the reader, if not Harry.) that Ron and Hermione have discussed what they’re about to talk about with Harry in advance.

      That’s not mentioning all the romantic stuff and jealousy and whatnot. Just basic friendship.

      I mean, if someone wants to say Ron and Hermione shouldn’t have ended up together, or that there was a better pairing, sure. Shipping is…shipping. People can ship whoever they want.

      But asserting they were just Harry’s friends and only became friends because of that…no. Not, that’s not the textual characters. At least not after CS. And before that point, there’s scant evidence that _Harry_ and Hermione are friends either! What exactly do they do together, or have in common, that Ron and Hermione don’t?

      Starting at PoA, there’s a heck of a lot of evidence that Ron and Hermione are good friends without Harry’s involvement at all. Starting with not only the fact he is sitting around eating ice cream with her instead of either of them actually looking for Harry like they’re supposed to be doing, but her earlier letter to Harry is, weirdly, mostly about Ron, because he told her what he was doing and she decided to tell Harry.Report

  10. DensityDuck says:

    ehhhhhh this sounds really tiresome, from the description. Like, a little too impressed with its own cleverness, a little too much with the “okay well you kids and your hero worship is really cute, but let’s show you what a REAL intellectual hero story would be like, and after this I’ve got a great book for you, the main character’s a girl even, named Dagny, and it’s about this adventure where she and her boyfriend invent this amazing technology…”

    And from there it’s only a short slide to “Gaston is the REAL hero and the Rebel Alliance was wrong all along”.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Then let me say this:

      Just read the first ten chapters. Come back on Sunday and say “this story was too danged clever by half” and, by the time you get to the end of the tenth, you’ll know whether or not you’re willing to put up with the tiresome stuff.

      Because, yes, there *IS* tiresome stuff.

      But there is also delightful stuff.

      (And it’s not “Gaston is the REAL hero” as much as “Jerkface kinda has a point here”.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        (Chapter 10 gets you to the Sorting Hat scene where the Sorting Hat figures out what House this universe’s Harry Potter is most suited for. It’s one of the best chapters in the book, if you ask me. If you read that one and say “UGH! This is insufferable!”, then, yeah, the book ain’t ever gonna turn around for you.)Report

    • It *is* impressed with its own cleverness for a while! By that, I mean Harry is. But Yudkowsky is not. Unfortunately, you do have to trust the author to eventually reveal Harry’s weaknesses to the character and force him to confront that. But before you get to that, you do indeed have to suffer through Harry being clever and having it work out for him.

      I agree with the author as well as Jaybird here. Give it a try. It’s literally free and you can stop anytime. In fact, I’d be interested to hear if you read a few chapters and can tell us why you hate it.

      DIrect link to chapter 1:

      • James K in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Yudkowsky is very good at getting into the heads of his viewpoint characters. This means that when we see things from Harry’s perspective he seems like he’s obviously right because he thinks he’s obviously right. The story’s perspective on Harry takes much longer to develop.Report

    • Fish in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I’m six chapters in and I feel the same, DD. I’m lightly hooked and what’s keeping the hooking from sinking deeper is my slight (mostly unfounded) suspicion that I’m being attacked (I’m not–I’m just having trouble properly framing the story), and the fact that Harry is so gods-damned fishing unlikable.

      So I’ll keep reading. I likely won’t read fast enough to keep up with the book club and I definitely won’t read fast enough to satisfy Jaybird!Report

  11. Maribou says:

    I’ve tried it 6 or 7 times, sometimes for 4-6 chapters at a time (including both reading in order and skipping around) and I hates it.

    Despite the virtues that keep me trying it every so often, I find that on each successive attempt at reading, it reeks ever more strongly, sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph, of an “Oh, this famous author wrote this incredibly popular book and I CAN DO BETTER” condescension that the author has insufficiently critiqued in himself.

    The best fanfic I’ve read takes not a condescending and self-assuredly “educational”, but rather a speculative, approach. I would probably like to read that version of HPMOR, should it exist.

    And yes, I see the irony, which is why I never wrote my own version of HPMOR.

    Nor do I spend much energy on discussing why I hate it.

    But since Vikram said he was interested….Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to Maribou says:

      I am interested!

      “Oh, this famous author wrote this incredibly popular book and I CAN DO BETTER” condescension that the author has insufficiently critiqued in himself.

      This critique seems fair, I guess. At the same time, I would HP is a children’s book. Of course it has a bunch of flaws to point out. I am confident Rowling was aware of at least some of them. Somehow I didn’t read it as “here is this jerk dumping on Rowling” but now that you mention it, I can see how that is a valid reading.Report

  12. North says:

    I read it and for a time was quite amused and engaged. I think sometime around the time that the war games were really swinging into motion and it was going rather Enders Game I felt quite detached and stopped reading. Any idea where that is or is my memory totally off? Also does it get better/different from the war games part on because I simply stopped reading at that point.Report

  13. Does J.K. Rowling announce that rhetoric was gay the whole time, and she always envisioned scientific method as being a person of color in a wheelchair?Report

  14. Zac Black says:

    Enh. This is okay, but it’s got nothing on Unsong.Report

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