Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
|Genre||Harry Potter fan fiction, hard fantasy|
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (HPMOR) is a Harry Potter fan fiction by Eliezer Yudkowsky. It adapts the story of Harry Potter to explain complex concepts in cognitive science, philosophy, and the scientific method. It was published as a serial from February 28, 2010 to March 14, 2015, totaling 122 chapters and about 660,000 words.
Departing from J. K. Rowling's original books, HPMOR supposes that Harry's aunt Petunia Evans married an Oxford professor and homeschooled Harry in science and rational thinking. Other characters are modified as well. For example, Hermione Granger is put in Ravenclaw and given more credit for her hard work, while Ron Weasley is not a main character. HPMOR takes place across a single year, covering the same time period as the first volume of Rowling's original series.
A sequel of HPMOR called Significant Digits has been written by Alexander Davis that explores the concept of immortality further. Significant Digits has been referred to by Eliezer Yudkowsky as 'the best HPMOR continuation fic'.
Upon arriving at Hogwarts, Harry attempts to apply the scientific method to the study of magic with the help of Hermione Granger. At the same time, he befriends Draco Malfoy and tries to show him the power of Muggle science. Eventually, Harry finds a mentor in Professor Quirrell, unaware that he is in fact Tom Riddle, who caused chaos and war in Magical Britain under the persona of Lord Voldemort before Harry was born. Despite his efforts to think rationally, Harry develops an emotional blind spot towards subtle indications of Quirrell's secret and grows to trust him deeply.
Quirrell plots to acquire the Philosopher's Stone, secretly held at Hogwarts, which would make him immortal. He breaks into Azkaban with Harry's help to free his lieutenant Bellatrix Black. Seeing Harry's friendships as a threat, he frames Hermione for the attempted murder of Draco using a false-memory charm. When Harry sacrifices his inheritance as payment to House Malfoy to save Hermione from going to Azkaban, Quirrell has her killed by a troll.
Harry remains oblivious to Quirrell's true intentions until Quirrell finally moves to acquire the Stone, revealing himself as Riddle. Voldemort threatens Harry with the death of the entire Hogwarts student body unless Harry agrees to help him retrieve the Stone; Voldemort also promises to use it to resurrect Hermione. They trigger a trap set by Headmaster Dumbledore, but Dumbledore reverses it and sacrifices himself to save Harry, letting Voldemort take the Stone. After resurrecting Hermione as agreed, Voldemort prepares to ritualistically kill Harry to nullify a prophecy. Harry uses novel magic that he had discovered with the help of Muggle science and kept secret from Voldemort to defeat him, then takes the Stone, planning to use it to grant health and immortality to all wizards and Muggles alike.
According to an article in Who, HPMOR is "Widely considered as one of the best fanfics ever written". It was one of the most popular works on FanFiction.net in 2011, though it was controversial. Hugo Award-winning science fiction author David Brin positively reviewed HPMOR in 2010, soon after it started. It was also strongly praised in 2014 by American politician Ben Wikler, as well as legal scholar William Baude.
An article in Vice describes HPMOR's version of Harry Potter as "a miniature Ravenclaw Spock with a taste for deductive reasoning" and the book as reading "like the originals after a lifetime spent playing Nintendo's Brain Training". A review in the Hindustan Times describes HPMOR as a "thinking person's story about magic and heroism", and the conflict between good and evil as being portrayed as a battle between knowledge and ignorance. In a 2019 interview, young adult writer Lili Wilkinson said that she adores HPMOR. In her opinion, the greatest scene in the book is where Malfoy "has to confront his pureblood bigotry" after he learns about DNA.
HPMOR has been the inspiration for other works of fan fiction, as well as art and poetry.
Yudkowsky wrote HPMOR to promote the rationality skills he advocated on the blog LessWrong. Yudkowsky chose Harry Potter because "I'd been reading a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction at the time the plot of HPMOR spontaneously burped itself into existence inside my mind, so it came out as a Harry Potter story. ... There's a large number of potential readers who would enter at least moderately familiar with the Harry Potter universe." He states that his work on rationality "informs every shade of how the characters think, both those who are allegedly rational and otherwise". He also used it to assist the launch of the Center for Applied Rationality, which teaches courses based on his work.
In July 2018, a crowdfunding campaign for printing a three-volume Russian translation of HPMOR was launched on the website Planeta.ru. The 1.086 million ₽ goal (approximately US$17 000) was reached within the first 30 hours. The campaign ended on the 30th of September with 11.4 million ₽ collected (approximately US$175 000) and became the highest funded Russian crowdfunding project, although this record was broken the day after. This is the biggest HPMOR publication project: the book was published by fans many times, but the book's circulation was lower. According to Mikhail Samin, the founder of the project, "Yudkowsky accepted the idea positively", but the popularity of the campaign surprised him. Yudkowsky wrote an introduction exclusively for the Russian printing. The book was compiled by Lin Lobaryov, the former lead editor of Mir Fantastiki magazine. Extra books will be sent to libraries and presented to school Science Olympiad winners.
After the success of the crowdfunding project, Russian publishing house Eksmo asked Rowling's agents for permission to publish HPMOR in Russia officially, but Rowling has refused use of fanfics of her Wizarding World for commercial purposes.
- A different variant was chosen; this one is available as a dust jacket.
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- HPMOR canonical page
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- "Гаррі Поттер і Методи Раціональности (Ukrainian)".