Because the only thing more terrifying than velociraptors are velociraptors that can fly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

I don't think it'd surprise anyone if I said I love the Harry Potter books. I started reading them when I was eleven and lived in Switzerland (so you can imagine my disappointment when I didn't receive my owl-delivered letter to Hogwarts. [England was right there!]) 

They were great. Plus, I've heard (so I'm not sure how true this is, though it makes sense to me) that one of Rowling's goals in creating the series was to start talking to a generation of kids, and then keep talking to them for the next several years. Obviously she didn't come out with a book every year (seven books over a decade), but that's pretty close. If you were eleven when the first books came out, you were around seventeen-ish when the last one did. Events that went on in Harry's life were roughly analogous to things going on in your own.

But the series ended. The supplementary books (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beadle the Bard) were all pretty short. Even with all the stuff on Rowling's website, Pottermore, and the world of the movies, once all that stuff came out, Harry Potter was over. We weren't going to ride the train to Hogwarts any more. Rowling is moving on as an author, and she has the right to do so. Still, haven't you always wanted to go back there, to Magical Britain? I know I have. That's why a book that I read this past weekend grabbed my attention so strongly. It's a piece of fanfiction called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

I loved this book. Not since the original HP series has a book grabbed my attention so firmly and refused to let go. I actually spent all of Friday night reading it (nine solid hours). It is in turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, filled with moments that make you want to stand up and cheer as well as ponder the new scientific concept this version of Harry has brought up.

Written by a researcher of Artificial Intelligence (a very smart fellow), HP&TMOR asks the question, "How would Harry's life have been different if his Aunt Petunia had A) married someone who loved Harry, and B) raised him to think as a scientist?" In this book, the author (Eliezer Yudkowsky) creates a world where Harry doesn't just accept the way wizardry works. He actively seeks to understand it through experimentation and gathering results. Why can't you Transfigure part of an object and not the whole? Do ghosts prove the existence of a soul? Why didn't Voldemort make a Horcrux out of an extrasolar space probe? And so forth.

The book is a wonderful read, and I enjoyed it as much as a young Colin did in his bedroom in Switzerland, staying up all night just to read one...more...chapter...

Here's the link to the page to read it online (or you could download the MOBI file to read it on your Kindle as I did:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Not as Bad as I Thought it'd Be

So I've been editing my novel(la), On the Horizon, as of late, what with that whole "it needs to be finished so that I can receive this degree I've spent lots of time and money on getting" thing, and it hasn't been as terrible as I expected.

Not a stunning declaration of my everlasting love for the editing process, to be sure, but coming from me that's saying something. I was about to say "I'm not sure what it is I don't like about editing," but that's not true. I do know what it is I dislike: I have only so much motivational capital (i.e. the drive to perform a task) available to me at one time. If I spend that capital on editing, it is not available to spend on writing new stories. I love writing new stories, but if I am editing, I cannot do something I love.

It's sort of like exercising versus reading a book. They're both positive things, but the former is kinda painful and takes a lot of effort. The latter is fun and absorbing. I realize that I need to exercise (or edit) but it takes so much work to make a noticeable difference that, at times, I just avoid it all together.

That being said, I'm starting to thaw toward editing this novel(la) a tad. I'm going to have to make some major changes in the original draft to get something I can be proud of, but the idea of doing so is marginally less terrifying. It's not fun, by any means, but I've seen visible improvement in the first few chapters I've altered.

(That being said, if you'd like to read my novel, drop me a line. I'm going to need a lot of readers.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Sorry about the late post, raptor fans. I've been busy lately. Some exciting news though. I now have a position as "article contributor" at, so you should start checking out that site regularly. It's basically a website devoted to getting you your Geeky news and reviews on TV shows, movies, video games, comics, and more. And now (thanks to yours truly) it will be covering webcomics as well, which is pretty awesome.

When I interviewed for the position, the guy I was talking to asked what I'd be interested in reviewing, and I said books and video games and that sort of stuff, but in prepping for my interview I wanted to make sure that I could bring something to the table, so I asked him about webcomics. I noticed they weren't already on the site, but they seemed like something that should be. Plus the really good ones (Girl Genius, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Schlock Mercenary, and Gunnerkrigg Court) would easily fit into the rating rubric already set up for graphic novels.

It seemed that while the guy I spoke to hadn't heard of webcomics, my telling him about them intrigued him. Some of those aforementioned comics have big fanbases, and their websites are really highly visited. Webcomics are also nice (compared to regular comics, let's say) because if you start getting into one, you can go back to the very beginning very easily and without spending dollar one.

So, since people on the site might not be familiar with these webcomics, my first few articles are going to be "catchup" reviews to make sure everyone's on a  level playing field when I do regular reviews of the latest collections. It's a little daunting, as some of these comics have been on the Web for many years, so there's a lot of material to work with, but at the same time, pretty exciting.

I'm not sure when the article is going to get posted, but I'll let you know.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I don't really like editing.

Sure, I see the point of it. I just don't like doing it. It's akin to my view on exercise: a painful process that gradually results in something looking better.

But by the end of the year I'll have to have my manuscript in tip-top shape for grad school, the same manuscript I wrote in 19 days this past November.

"Rough" doesn't begin to describe it. But I have a plan. A shaky, hole-filled plan that I'm sure I'll have to revise (and believe me, I see the irony), but a plan nonetheless.

If you're at all interested in reading a novella about smugglers aboard a flying pirate ship, do not hesitate to drop me a line. I'd love to send it to you. The more eyes I can get on this thing the better.

Well, I should probably get started on it (I'd like to get through a draft a month until my deadline).

New York Time's Best Sellers list, here I come!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back in the New Year

Happy New Year, everybody!

What's that? I'm a little late on that one?...I'm a couple of days late? Oh, well, happy New Year's anyway, spoilsport.

Let's see, it's been a little while since I posted last, Christmas and the aforementioned ending of the year happened. I hope yours were delightful. I got to spend the Christmas holiday in Michigan with my family which is always enjoyable. New Year's wasn't anything too spectacular. I worked the 31st and the 1st so I pretty much stuck to my routine.

Otherwise I've been playing quite a bit of a videogame I got (myself) for Christmas called "Borderlands 2," which is very enjoyable, and I've already read my way through the novels I got as well.

I'm headed to Pittsburgh this weekend to hang out with my Carlow friends, so I'm really looking forward to that. I got a Barnes and Noble gift card from my uncle, and I'm planning on picking up a physical book to read on the plane ride up there.

Other than that, nothing too exciting going on in my neck of the woods. I'll be switching gears here pretty soon to focus on my novel for school (the magic pirate one), getting it ready to be looked at when I go back in...August, I think.

Hope things have been going smoothly for you since last I posted.