Early last week I finally gave in to the steadily building pile of recommendations and started reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. By Friday I had barely managed to keep up with my other commitments and had forcibly redistributed my sleep cycle; but I finished all 87 chapters that are presently out, and was left wanting more. I hadn’t understood why so many other people had thought that I would like the story: I’m not normally attracted to any sort of fanfic, and while I enjoyed the Harry Potter series I didn’t think it was the alpha and omega of wizardly fiction. But now…
Now I’m sold. Not on fanfic in general, but certainly on this one. I knew I was signing up for something different as soon as I understood the premise (HP is raised by loving adoptive parents, and is a precocious polymath with a love for the rational scientific process), but I hadn’t anticipated the places the author would take it. I have been pleasantly surprised. Heck, I’m probably addicted.
I won’t spoil any of the story for you, since it’s definitely worth reading. But I’ve been incredibly impressed with how well the author appears to have put this whole piece together. Perhaps more to the point, the author appears to have put considerable thought into the underlying ramifications of the many and varied elements of the HP universe, and then goes on and continues paying attention to them rather than simply skipping along to the next interesting thing. This has the effect of giving the world more substance and consistency than I ever felt like the original books had, and is something that I admire and hope to do with my own writing.
Having said all those nice things, do I have anything mean to say? Not really, apart from agreeing that the author’s warning at the beginning is probably accurate. If you don’t like the fic by chapter 10, don’t keep reading. If you’re on the fence, I’d say go ahead and keep trying, though you should be aware that chapter 11 is mostly a collection of goofy out-of-plot digressions. But don’t push it too hard; while there are a few other themes that are introduced (and more tension as danger develops), the core of the fic’s concept has remained true throughout. If you don’t like the idea of Harry Potter as a precocious young scientist with a consummate knowledge of Muggle culture, history, and scientific practice, you probably won’t like this story. Of course, if that sounds at all appealing you should hop on over and start reading right away.