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Aurini comments on The Sword of Good - Less Wrong

85 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 September 2009 12:53AM

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Comment author: Aurini 05 September 2009 09:17:41AM *  20 points [-]

Huh; I thought my browser had failed, and this post hadn't appeared. Anyway...

There's an old army saying: "Being in the army ruins action movies for you." I feel the same way about 'scifi' - Aside from season 3, every episode of Torchwood (that I've recently started watching, now that I finished Sopranos) is driving me up the wall. I propose a corollary saying:

"Understanding philosophical materialism and the implications thereof ruins 99% of Science Fiction... and don't get me started on Fantasy!"

In my opinion, there are three essential rules to Fantasy:

  1. The protagonist is a priori important; by their very nature they have metaphysical relevance (even though they don't know it yet!). All other characters are living their rightful and deserved life, unless they are below their means with a Heart of Gold.

  2. The scientific method (hypothesis, experiment, conclusion, theory) only works in the immediate sense, not the broad sense; your immediate world will be logical, but the world as a whole is incomprehensible. You can only build machines if a) they already exist; or b) they serve no practical purpose. Magic, on the other hand, generally works as intended; the human will guides it, and can only be countervened by another magical authority (a navigation spell will not require knowledge of the local plant life, nor will it require accurate grid coordinates given a non-simultaneous Relativistic geometry).::If magic doesn't work as the protagonists intend, it will be working under a higher moral power.

  3. There is an abstract and absolute division between Right and Wrong; somebody is keeping score, and no actions are hidden. Your evil acts might escape the notice of the local authorities, but they will show through by your bearing, your beauty, or your image.

Heh, this might be worth a top level post except tvtropes has covered it all already.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 September 2009 07:05:46PM 13 points [-]

The most rationalist-relevant TV Tropes would easily be worth a top post or three.

Comment author: JulianMorrison 07 September 2009 11:21:10AM 21 points [-]

You'd lose your whole crop of rationalists. They would never come back out.

Comment author: swestrup 07 September 2009 10:51:51AM 0 points [-]

I agree, which is why I tend to shy away from performing a moral analysis of Fantasy stories in the first place. That way lies a bottomless morass.

Comment author: Aurini 10 September 2009 04:22:28AM 2 points [-]

Fantasy stories, and ninety percent of science fiction nowadays...