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Luminosity (Twilight fanfic) discussion thread

12 Post author: FAWS 25 August 2010 08:49AM

In the vein of the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion threads this is the place to discuss anything relating to Alicorn's Twilight fanfic Luminosity. The fanfic is also archived on Alicorn's own website <strike>(warning: white text on black background)</strike>.

Previous discussion is hidden so deeply within the first Methods of Rationality thread that it's difficult to find even if you already know it exists. 

Similar to how Eliezer's fanfic popularizes material from his sequences Alicorn is using the insights from her Luminosity sequence.

Spoilers for the fanfic itself as well as the original novels need and should not be hidden, but spoiler protection still applies for any other works of fiction, except for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality chapters more than a week old so we can freely discuss similarities and differences. 

EDIT: Post-ginormous-spoiler discussion should go to the second thread. (If you have any doubt on whether you have reached the spoiler in question you have not.)

Comments (435)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 October 2010 04:16:22AM 15 points [-]

I can't help but notice that Bella's feelings of social awkwardness about trying to proselytize her fellow vampires not to eat people are exactly identical to how I feel about the tradeoff between social awkwardness and human life when it comes to persuading people to sign up for cryonics. Did you think that too while you were writing it?

Being a transhumanist puts you into sympathy with the strangest people, doesn't it?

Comment author: Alicorn 19 October 2010 12:00:00PM *  11 points [-]

That particular analogy hadn't occurred to me - I usually think of turning into a vampire as the cryonics insertion and the whole "don't eat people" part as a more straightforward disagreement on ethics, rather than prudence. Still, if I got the feelings realistic enough that they map onto something in the same neighborhood that you experience, yay!

Comment author: MartinB 03 November 2010 12:43:02PM 9 points [-]

Do you notice how people that actually believe their religion have pretty much the same effect going?

Comment author: Pavitra 01 September 2010 05:24:23AM 12 points [-]

Chapter 32.

As a rabid fan of Emily Short's Galatea, I squeed uncontrollably at Bella pretending to be a statue in a shipping crate.

It occurs to me that Antarctica would be a ridiculously well-suited place to establish a long-term vegetarian vampire settlement, once that community grew to about a hundred or so. It's very well-separated from any human settlement and likely to remain so for a long time, so it's safe for newborns, unlikely to invite accidents, and little chance of needing to move. It's totally habitable to vampires, and there's plenty of local fauna to munch on. If the politics with the Volturi could be worked out, it could become feasible to start turning people systematically.

Comment author: Giriath 23 October 2010 10:41:07AM 1 point [-]

I fear for the poor scientists drilling ice cores and studying other things on Antarctica should this happen.

Comment author: Alicorn 23 October 2010 01:03:42PM 2 points [-]

Are there many of those? Would they be hard to avoid?

Comment author: Pavitra 23 October 2010 04:43:58PM 2 points [-]

Or to turn?

Comment author: Alicorn 16 September 2010 03:20:13AM 11 points [-]

Chapter 39 will introduce a character named "Eleazar". He's canon and in no way inspired by or related to Eliezer. Just wanted to provide a heads up about that because I know someone would ask.

Comment author: Vaniver 25 October 2010 03:29:21AM 9 points [-]

While I enjoyed the start of Luminosity quite a bit, I really didn't like the last chapter (55). I suppose it's where my misgivings about the story came to a head. Full disclosure: I have gotten consistent reports that I would not enjoy the Twilight novels, and so have not read them (but have checked out the twilight wiki to write this post), and this will weaken my first objection, but I still feel it worth making.

The premise is that it's Bella with a brain; the personality is the same, most of the limitations are the same (I imagine Meyer's Bella gets pointlessly upset when interrupted), but she's got rationality training and thus behaves rather differently. I was genuinely pleased at the mention of the journals and the acknowledgment that thoughts and emotions change- that's such a great example of knowing your limitations and rationally responding to them.

Except, Bella also plans to take over the world.

That isn't a rationality boost. That's a core personality overwrite. The main reason that bothered me is while I wasn't surprised to see HP:MoR become Ender's Game (for a time, at least), I really didn't expect the same "one genius takes on the world!" stuff in Twilight. It was a domestic fantasy, and now it's going to be The Punisher? Great.

Does every rationalist protagonist come out of the box thinking they're the queen or king? It makes sense for the ten-year old whose INT far surpasses his WIS; it doesn't make sense for the family-centered teen. What could possibly possess Bella such that she decided to risk everything important to her for political gain when she learned of thousand-year old vampires who ruthlessly enforce vampire law? Idiocy? I thought this was Bella with a Brain, not Bella with Revolutionary Aspirations.

Which, I suppose, leads to the main reason this bothered me: for the first ~20 chapters, I was planning to recommend this to my friends and family who enjoyed Meyer's Twilight; after that, my desire to do so gradually waned; now, I would not recommend it. Which is such a shame, because the start really was promising, both as an interesting story and as a rationality teaching tool.

The phrase "Twilight for boys" is bouncing around my head- both because of the plot changes and the style changes. Meyer describes things the way she does for a reason; that's part of what makes her books interesting to her audience. The sparseness of Luminosity really got harsh after a while- it was palpably obvious that all of the details of Bella's life were being drained away. (By her political aspirations? Foreshadowing?) I haven't gone back to check, but every personal description I remember came in the first few chapters. After that, no one is distinctive- only their names, powers, and affiliations come up.

Another way I'm thinking about this: are there any romance novels (or something similar enough) that you really like? Because that's what Twilight was, and replacing it with something else kills it in a way that's hard to explain if you don't like any romance novels. One of the books I cherish is a romance novel about a gay football player and his boyfriend. I read it whenever I'm feeling down or lonely and it cheers me up. There's still conflict- it's a story, after all- but the conflicts are ones I care about as a gay guy looking for a mate. Reading about byzantine power struggles is sometimes entertaining, and I suppose possibly it's training for a future as a leader or in a bureaucracy, but not what I care most about in my life. I'm not a plotter, I'm an optimizer.

Perhaps I'm burdening you too much with my expectations, but I find myself worried when the primary plot you and EY have come up with is "death has to go." There's really a lot more to life than trying to prolong it, guys. That's what makes spending any effort at all on prolonging life worthwhile. With Harry Potter, there's enough other stuff bouncing around that it doesn't take over the story- there's still magic to figure out, and Voldemort to oppose, and the Dumbledore-Malfoy war to deal with- but with Twilight, there's really only Bella, Edward, and family. And so when you add "Bella's plan to replace the Volturi" to the mix, you unbalance things so massively that the flavor of family is entirely overpowered and we're left with a Punisher story. Not only is that a distasteful bait and switch, it misses a great target: how to behave rationally with your loved ones to maximize their and your happiness. That's something that would be immediately enlightening in the minds of readers (particularly Twilight readers), and instead we get vampire politics and war.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 04:09:02AM 12 points [-]

I changed Bella's personality too. She's got the same basic resources as canon!Bella, but she made some different choices a few years ago and has become a different young lady.

I'm sorry you're not enjoying the story anymore. That's a pity.

The closest thing to romance novels per se that I like (besides the Twilight canon itself, which I did enjoy) would probably be the works of Sharon Shinn. I am very puzzled about why you are trying to compare Luminosity's fulfillment of this genre to Twilight's when you have not read Twilight at all. (The wiki is a useful reference but I think it was mostly written by twelve year olds with untreated grammatical disabilities.)

find myself worried when the primary plot you and EY have come up with is "death has to go." There's really a lot more to life than trying to prolong it, guys.

Well, yes. Bella also does other things. I'm surprised that they didn't stand out to you. I thought I might be being too heavy-handed with the massive clues about how often she gets laid, just as one example. But... seriously... I started working with a canon where there are immortal freakin' vampires who can make more of themselves. Since death is bad, and my character was handed a tool to make it not happen so much... yes, lots of the action is going to be happening in that neighborhood. Not making the story even sort of about that would be like having a novel about a cancer researcher, who has cancer, and whose entire family has cancer, who then discovers the cure for cancer, but that's just a side plot because all the actual drama is about how to break the news to Grandma Betty that no one likes her fruitcake.

Comment author: Vaniver 25 October 2010 05:54:23AM *  6 points [-]

First off, thanks for responding! As well, Archangel looks interesting; I'm assuming that's a decent place to start on Shinn?

"I am very puzzled about why you are trying to compare Luminosity's fulfillment of this genre to Twilight's when you have not read Twilight at all."

I'm comparing it to optimal; literally every book on my shelf is more readable (to me) than Twilight. The point of fanfic as I understand it is to be what the book could have been. The main reason I did make comparisons is that I get the feeling your work overcorrects on some things that are deficiencies in the original, and it's worth analyzing the relevant continua.

I'm surprised that they didn't stand out to you. I thought I might be being too heavy-handed with the massive clues about how often she gets laid, just as one example.

I felt the opposite. The first piece of writing advice, for good reason, is "show don't tell." (I understand you're shooting for teen, and so getting laid is not something you can show, but you can make up for it everywhere else.)

The first time- the "Among the enhanced vampire senses is touch" line- was well done, and you deserve props for it. But in the work as a whole the most memorable time Edward touches Bella is when he breaks her spine. Anyone can use the words "comfort" or "caress," the challenge is evoking the emotions. Indeed, the only habit I can think of peculiar to them is that they just say "I love you" instead of "I love you too," which is justified only by vampires being super-emotional.

For example, in the first section of chapter 45, there are ~8 lines about Bella rationalizing about her and Edward's disappointment, and then ~2 lines about exchanging comfort that didn't depend on rationalization. The reader's impression is that rationalizing is at least four times as important as comfort: you gave us a walkthrough of Bella's thoughts on the matter, but no details about her and Edward's actions. Italicizing the "our" doesn't capture why Bella wants Edward's baby, and why Edward wants Bella's baby. It would have been easy and effective to write eight lines there so the comfort took up more of the page than the sour grapes.

If you make a habit of that- giving even equal description to emotion/perception than you do to rationalizations- then it'll stand out. (Since action/rationalization tends to happen more, I mean equality in paragraph-lengths, not number of lines on each.) There are exceptional cases where the emotion is treated with the same level of depth than the rationalizations are- but for most of them, even more would help.

(On the subject of perception: the primary description we get of vampire senses is essentially "they're too high-level to describe." This is the Vizzini method- "Have you ever heard of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle? ... Morons," and it's worse than just overwhelming. Write a paragraph or two or twelve about what it's like to run through the trees, seeing their branches and twigs turn and dance all at once, able to focus on more than just one small bit. Ultraviolent is her new favorite color- why not tour botanical gardens, and get the full bee experience? The reason that "show don't tell" is convincing is that the author demonstrates they have extra information: they don't just know "love" is the symbol to call upon, they have an experience to describe to you.

Not making the story even sort of about that would be like having a novel about a cancer researcher, who has cancer, and whose entire family has cancer, who then discovers the cure for cancer, but that's just a side plot because all the actual drama is about how to break the news to Grandma Betty that no one likes her fruitcake.

I'm not saying immortality shouldn't be part of the story- it should. I'm saying that the scale of Bella's ambitions needs to be sensible. Why would any sane person do more about overthrowing the Volturi- who at that point had done nothing but help her- than convincing her parents to become immortal? I'm convinced my government is evil on a stupefying scale but I spend more time trying to create wealth and improve them than overthrow them. You'd have drama far more interesting than Grandma Betty's fruitcake, but be operating on a level that doesn't strain credulity or naturally lead to defeat.

I think another thing that bothers me, when it comes to Bella Guevera, is that neither of her stances have strong backing / she doesn't rigorously examine them. There are strong reasons to prefer the Volturi to their absence (beyond their ability and inclination to murder those who think otherwise), and arguments against utilitarianism (I'm thinking of the Utility Monster here) demonstrably apply for vampires. Eating humans might be the most moral thing to do, from the utilitarian perspective. And counterarguments against that could also apply to animals- why don't the Cullens have a ranch and drink the blood of their animals instead of hunting? Among other justifications, that's already an accepted practice in some lactose-intolerant parts of Africa.

And so if the fic's Bella sets on a violent path than requires risking her most cherished desires to achieve political goals she hasn't fully examined, should we really call her rational or luminous? And if this a morality play where she does everything wrong and learns the error of her ways too late, why write that?

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 12:30:12PM *  3 points [-]

Yeah, Archangel's a fine place to start, although it's a little hard to say in what order you ought to read the angel books because they were written out of chronological order.

why don't the Cullens have a ranch and drink the blood of their animals instead of hunting?

I actually explicitly address this one in the fic. I'm starting to doubt that you've been paying much attention.

Anyway, my point isn't that Bella does everything wrong, or that she isn't really luminous or smart or rational. She made mistakes, which stemmed more or less directly from flaws in her personality, and bad things happened.

Comment author: Vaniver 25 October 2010 07:36:33PM 2 points [-]

I actually explicitly address this one in the fic. I'm starting to doubt that you've been paying much attention.

I remember you addressing why a butchering facility is impractical. I don't recall you addressing why it's morally acceptable to hunt animals but not morally acceptable to hunt humans; if you did and I missed it, then I apologize sincerely, as that's solid evidence I wasn't paying attention.

What I'm talking about is not the Scottish method of making a blood pudding out of a butchered animal, but the Maasai method of bleeding a cow- essentially similar to the European method of milking cows or Canadian method of collecting maple sap. Since they're doctors, they'd use syringes instead of arrows and plugs, but the basic idea would be the same: have a 'dairy cow' whose relevant organ is their marrow, not their udder.

They already considered this, but dismissed it, when it came to humans- they would be able to get the blood without killing, but would lose the benefit of calming animal blood.

(Since I'm thinking about this, the way I'd introduce it is not Bella thinking "wait, why are we killing them when we don't have to?" or suddenly being interested in animal rights- but as a product of a debate where Bella raises the issue of vegetarianism with a human-eating vampire and the human-eater (particularly if it's one that buys blood to consume, rather than killing) points out that Bella's really not any better than the human-eaters or humans in general, and asks why they don't put their morals into practice and abandon hunting- which Bella might then adopt as a great idea.)

She made mistakes, which stemmed more or less directly from flaws in her personality, and bad things happened.

I think the two main things that bother me about her mistakes are that, as far as I can tell, they come from flaws that you introduced and those flaws are unrelatable. Bella's flaw is that she thinks that assassinating the world government is a good way to go about things (another way to think about this flaw is she considers politics more important than people). What's the moral, here? Don't try to assassinate world governments? I already knew that one, thanks.

What's the deeper moral? If you're vapid, the consequence is spending eternity telepathically beaming love at your husband, who is overcome by emotion and distracts you with the physical manifestation of that love. If you're thoughtful, the consequence is spending eternity bound to a pile of ash while every day your husband's ghost eats your liver anew. Why choose to rewrite the Prometheus myth?

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 08:22:10PM 3 points [-]

The reasons I give for not having a butchering facility apply to any other facility that would keep domestic animals. The animals would still need a place to live that would be hard to pick up and move when the vampires got suspiciously youthful-looking for their claimed ages. Also, if the vampires were trying to keep animals alive, they would suck at it. The poor cows would die of stress from having to be around them.

As for your other criticisms: I'm sorry you aren't enjoying the story I have chosen to tell. That's a pity. I suggest you don't waste more of your time on a story you don't like. Hopefully you will be able to find something more worthy of your attention.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 October 2010 03:36:21AM *  3 points [-]

The poor cows would die of stress from having to be around them.

True- but one can buy animal blood much more easily than human blood. As far as I can tell, the sites I found googling only require a credit card, and your only contact will be the FedEx deliveryperson. The prices (about ~$150 to get as much sheep's blood as it would take to fill a person) seem like they would be nowhere near troubling for vampires, and a front corporation doing medical research would be trivial to create.

Indeed, if Bella's primary objection to vampires consuming blood is that it has to come from people, why not sell packaged blood to vampires? They still get the tasty blood they prefer, and people don't have to die for it. They miss out on the calming effect, and more importantly miss out on the hunting, but I imagine there must be some vampires out there who don't live to hunt, or would prefer being able to reside more permanently by hunting less frequently.

It's possible anyone willing to take that option would already be taking that option- but people are more willing to make changes the easier you make those changes. Again, directly relevant experience for people- "I'm going to help my neighbors switch to vegetarianism by grocery shopping and teaching recipes" over "I'm going to murder Jim Purdue."

As for your other criticisms: I'm sorry you aren't enjoying the story I have chosen to tell. That's a pity. I suggest you don't waste more of your time on a story you don't like. Hopefully you will be able to find something more worthy of your attention.

There is no need to apologize: you've written a story that you wanted to tell and it is no offense against me that it's not the story I wanted to read. I think it's mistaken, though, to consider time spent on things one doesn't like a waste. I am still interested by the story, I am still attracted by the story's potential; I just think the choices you've made are suboptimal, and believe it's better to explain to you why I responded that way than fling my hands up in disgust and silently fade away.

I do feel the need to mention I do not expect you to change the story to suit my tastes- if I lend weight to any changes, I expect the most likely would be you deciding to beef up some descriptions. But I hope the feedback is useful even if not reacted to.

Comment author: Strange7 27 October 2010 06:40:58PM 1 point [-]

Also, if the vampires were trying to keep animals alive, they would suck at it.

Why would vampires put themselves in charge of keeping the animals alive? It's been established that the Cullens have staggering amounts of money. Just find a small, publicly-traded company that does something related to what you're looking for, and buy up a controlling share of the stock. Make some unreasonable demands, ratchet up relevant salaries until those demands start sounding very reasonable indeed, then add layer after layer of nondisclosure agreements just in case. Once it's set up, you never need to visit again. They mail the packaged, refrigerated blood to an entirely separate institution whose sole purpose, in this context at least, is to keep track of your forwarding address.

Routine problems can be handled by professional investigators of the appropriate sort (would Temple Grandin qualify as a witch in this setting?) and severe/bizarre/supernatural problems can be handled by divesting yourself of the shares, starting over from scratch with a different company, and leaving just enough lawyers in your wake to remind those involved that the nondisclosure agreement still applies.

As often as necessary, packages of animal blood arrive in the mail. If someone notices, you mumble something about medical research; if they call you on it, explain in shameful tones that your spouse has a weird fetish, you found a company that sells the stuff, all very humane, it's expensive but who can put a price on a happy marriage, and (depending on how the situation develops) follow up with either an indignant rant about the rights of consenting adults within the privacy of their own home, or pleading and an appropriate bribe.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2010 06:52:04PM 2 points [-]

I've stated elsewhere under this post that I've ruled that animal blood is impossible to tolerate when it isn't fresh. This is to explain the canon fact that the Cullens do not keep any preserved animal blood in their home, which would make immense sense if it were drinkable that way.

Comment author: Strange7 27 October 2010 07:21:16PM 1 point [-]

Even with that constraint, it would be financially feasible to create a 'filling station' within half a night's walk of any given house, and the technicians still don't need to see any 'customers' face-to-face. Just run the IV pipe through an opaque wall, and set up appointments by calling ahead.

Comment author: Eneasz 01 November 2010 08:10:09PM 1 point [-]

Does every rationalist protagonist come out of the box thinking they're the queen or king?

I dunno, but I've never read one that doesn't.

If you considered yourself able to take over the world (which all ultra-rationalist characters (whether pro- or antagonists) seem to) then actually taking it over would be one of the most rational things you could do.

Comment author: Vaniver 01 November 2010 10:39:06PM 5 points [-]

If you considered yourself able to take over the world (which all ultra-rationalist characters (whether pro- or antagonists) seem to)

This is the part that confuses me, though. Maybe it's just because I've studied economics and/or am a libertarian, but as soon as you realize that the world is ordered by systems instead of by people then the idea of taking over the world is ludicrous. There's a great Steve Jobs quote-

When you're young, you look at television and think, There's a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth.

And so, when I see someone who thinks they can, let alone should, take over the world, the first impression I get is the "d'awww" that mature adults feel when they see a pretentious teenager. And maybe stories about pretentious teenagers are valuable? But I found that I became a mature adult by, among other things, reading about mature adults. And it seems to me that a pretty important precondition to rationality is being a mature adult (or, perhaps more correctly, the idea of being rational and the idea of mature adulthood are strongly connected).

Comment author: Eneasz 01 November 2010 11:11:10PM 2 points [-]

I agree on all points. But tales of ultra-rationalists (at least when they're protagonists) are wish-fulfillment stories. That's why they're fun to read. If they were realistic then they'd quickly end up with the protagonist shattered, her loved ones killed or scattered, and the ruling systems just as entrenched as ever (if not even stronger).

Which is why I'm pretty sure Elspeth will succeed where Bella failed. These sorts of stories aren't meant to be accurate reflections of the real world, they're meant to give a vicarious thrill as the hero finally brings down all those bastards that are screwing things up for the rest of us. If I wanted a realistic story that ended in the crushing of the human soul under the heel of an inhuman system I'd watch the news.

Comment author: Vaniver 02 November 2010 02:30:56AM 2 points [-]

There is, of course, a third option. The rationalist who sets their sights on something human-scaled instead of humanity-scaled is likely to do very well for themselves.

And so, in some sense, it's worth examining the scope and effect of wish-fulfillment stories. If I play a lot of video games where I'm the only relevant character who reshapes all of reality around him according to my whims, what does that do to my empathy? My narcissism? My ability to reshape reality, and my satisfaction with the changes I attempt? If I read a lot of books about the lives of software pioneers and their companies, what does that do to my empathy? My narcissism? My ability to reshape reality, and my satisfaction with the changes I attempt? If I read a lot of books about successful relationships, how people work, and how to control myself, what does that do to my empathy? My narcissism? My ability to reshape reality, and my satisfaction with the changes I attempt?

It's difficult to write a story about start-ups. (Either the idea is good and has been done, so you're writing history instead of fiction, or good and not done, in which case you should be doing it not writing about it, or bad, in which case disbelief will be hard to suspend.) But it's easy to see someone using rationality to turn around their relationship or their life or a school or business.

The author's problem is twofold: those problems are hard, and those problems are local. Stories tend to go for the cheapest thing: the cheapest/simplest plot is one person punching another, and the cheapest emotional hook is the fate of the world.

But those problems are solvable. And I, as suggested, would love a rationalist story where the hero devotes their time to solving useful, even if they are limited, problems instead of figuring out the best way to punch someone. You can see this in HP:MoR: compare the chapters where Harry is trying to figure out magic, or convert Draco, to the Azkaban chapters. (I am in the early early stages of starting a rationalist work on these lines; I abandoned fiction writing ~6 years ago and do not expect to be good at it, but we'll see if I get happy enough with it to show the public.)

Which is why I'm pretty sure Elspeth will succeed where Bella failed.

My thoughts here are that, for Elspeth, succeeding is having an accurate idea of what scope she can change the world at. That was Bella's core failure: her delusions of grandeur. For Elspeth, who has a less useful power, no ultra-rich family with several massively useful witches, and only half-vampire status, for her to defeat the Volturi where Bella failed seems to me to be impossible (unless she does the "well, I'm going to steal a bunch of money, buy a bunch of explosives, and burn Volterra to the ground" plan, which is definitely not the utilitarian way to conduct regime change).

I don't mind that this lesson, which is of critical importance, is a really painful one. Pain is the best teacher. I mind that Bella didn't know it beforehand, but it's a reasonable flaw to give a character (especially if you're writing for the LW community, apparently). But if Alicorn has the second book narrated by Elspeth and she makes the same mistakes as Bella (especially if she lucks into a win), then I will stop reading in disgust.

Comment author: Document 25 January 2011 11:59:59PM 4 points [-]

It's difficult to write a story about start-ups. (Either the idea is good and has been done, so you're writing history instead of fiction, or good and not done, in which case you should be doing it not writing about it, or bad, in which case disbelief will be hard to suspend.)

Unless it's been done in the real world but not in the world you're writing in, in which case you may be Terry Pratchett.

Comment author: Vaniver 02 November 2010 02:34:34AM *  2 points [-]

Put in a separate post: I am strongly considering writing a top-level post about the failings of utilitarianism, because I see that as very strongly linked to Bella's scope failure (the utilitarian goal is the Volturi gone, thus I should eradicate the Volturi). I'll also write it for people, not for fictional characters, if that's a worry.

If you are interested in seeing my thoughts on the matter, vote this up; if disinterested, vote this down. (But not negative, please, my karma is tiny!)

Comment author: Alicorn 02 November 2010 03:00:48AM 2 points [-]

I would strongly prefer that my characters not be used as examples in non-fiction didactic works at least until I announce that I have finished with the story. (I currently expect Radiance to be the last work I do in the universe.)

Comment author: mwaser 01 November 2010 08:28:46PM 1 point [-]

If you considered yourself able to take over the world (which all ultra-rationalist characters (whether pro- or antagonists) seem to) then actually taking it over would be one of the most rational things you could do.

But not one of the wisest (because most people who have taken over suddenly realize exactly how much of a pain it is to actually run the world that you've just taken over)

Comment author: Vaniver 01 November 2010 10:22:47PM 1 point [-]

Exactly; Baron Wulfenbach from Girl Genius comes to mind, or the The Onion article entitled "Black Man Given America's Worst Job."

Comment author: Pavitra 06 October 2010 08:13:22PM *  8 points [-]

I want to say that this fic is what finally persuaded me to read the Luminosity sequences, which are extremely grounded, sensible, and level-headed. I had been pattern-matching against new-age self-help, and it's not that at all.

Comment author: Alicorn 06 October 2010 08:40:03PM 4 points [-]

:D

Comment author: mjr 03 September 2010 12:06:01AM 8 points [-]

Good show, reduced my Harry withdrawal a bit, though not hitting all the same achy spots.

Here's to Rosalie totally having thought of offing Bella and conveniently appropriating, err, adopting, her eggs.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 September 2010 12:09:55AM 8 points [-]

Nice catch.

Comment author: Apprentice 29 August 2010 09:05:57AM *  7 points [-]

I love the fic. HP:MOR is alternatively brilliant and cringeworthy but this is consistently well-written. And sometimes poignant. Hopefully I'll get around to write a review at some point. For now, just some thoughts on blood.

I would expect Bella to try hard to find ways to satisfy her hunger more satisfactorily. Some things she could plausibly look into:

  • Since some animals taste better than others, which one tastes best? Do hominids taste any good? Or maybe some predator which vampires might rarely encounter? Killer whales?

  • Are there any ways to process/cook/spice animal blood so that it tastes less bad?

  • Is there a way to synthesize a yummy blood substitute? This would be an ambitious research/engineering project but with immortality, you might as well get started.

  • Are there any ways to obtain human blood which Bella might find ethically satisfactory? Edward used to kill bad guys, maybe that's worth at least thinking about? What about people that are dying anyway? People in a permanent vegitative state? Braindead people?

  • How about blood donations? Humans can, and frequently do, donate a significant amount of blood without negative effects on their well being. If stealing blood intended for medical purposes is too unethical, then perhaps you could get some human friends to donate yummy blood now and then? I'm sure the world has a lot of vampire fans who would be happy to do that. If the Volturi keep human fan girls around, then maybe there is some realistic way for you to do it too? And if it's hard to get a significant amount of blood then maybe you could at least have enough to indulge on special occasions? Or maybe you could mix a little human blood with a lot of animal blood and get something that tastes significantly better than your normal meal?

Of course there are reasons why none of these ideas might work out (e.g. gorillas might actually taste pretty good but they're rare and somewhat unethical to kill; a bit of human blood now and then might just drive you crazy for more etc.) but Bella is the kind of person I would expect to look into things like this before accepting a life (an eternal life, no less) of unsatiable cravings. We already know that there are fairly obvious things (like drinking water) which her vampire family has never thought of trying so she probably wouldn't just think "someone would have noticed".

Edit: I see the point about donated blood was already raised below and explained away in the way I guessed.

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 01:17:07PM *  9 points [-]

Since some animals taste better than others, which one tastes best? Do hominids taste any good? Or maybe some predator which vampires might rarely encounter? Killer whales?

Carnivores taste better than herbivores; omnivores are presumably in between. I implied, although perhaps not strongly enough, that Edward tried a shark; it was more or less in line with predators in general. There's not enough variance to expect there to be a particularly excellent species somewhere. Individual vampires have preferences within animalspace but there's no way to predict what Bella will like best until she's sampled a few kinds.

Are there any ways to process/cook/spice animal blood so that it tastes less bad?

Nope. It's best straight out of the jugular.

Is there a way to synthesize a yummy blood substitute? This would be an ambitious research/engineering project but with immortality, you might as well get started.

Maybe. Bella's probably going to start something along these lines once she can stand being around human blood - she wants to figure out what there is in human blood that makes it tasty. (Carlisle could start something like this, but while he's a fine character and whatnot, he does not have an experimental mindset, and would be unlikely to give up large chunks of his time to satisfy this interest of Bella's. For example, instead of thinking about what might cause vampire venom to cause turning, and then getting a lot of it directly into Edward's heart when he was administering his first turn, he settled for recreating the bites he himself had received. This, it turns out, made the process unnecessarily drawn out.)

Your other questions have, as you noted, been addressed.

Comment author: Strange7 01 September 2010 05:19:36AM 4 points [-]

Does the boar's blood taste better because of biochemical similarities between humans and pigs?

Comment author: Alicorn 01 September 2010 11:45:12AM 2 points [-]

No, Bella just happens to like them a bit more than other animals (except, as per latest update, orca whales.) Emmett's favorite is bear and Edward prefers mountain lion.

Comment author: Apprentice 29 August 2010 01:43:22PM 4 points [-]

Thank you, I appreciate the reply. I didn't mean that I was curious about the answers to those questions, as such. My only concern was that I felt it would be in character for Bella to be asking questions like these. And, as your answers imply, I'm sure she will - she's only just turned and the problem would have been less salient to her before.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 22 November 2010 08:06:07PM 3 points [-]

So, I know this is a long-since obsolete issue, but it really is a good thing for story purposes that none of the Cullens are experimentalists by nature. Hooking up an experimentalist with a precognitive is a balance-destroying arrangement... you get the results of any non-longitudinal experiment you make up your mind to perform, with a direct perception of whether that result is reliable or just a statistical fluke, without actually having to perform it.

Comment author: Apprentice 01 September 2010 08:28:13AM 3 points [-]

Oh, there is a yummy killer whale in the latest update! That was sweet of you.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 10:00:25AM 5 points [-]

but Bella is the kind of person I would expect to look into things like this before accepting a life (an eternal life, no less) of insatiable cravings.

She is? I think you just convinced me to have a read!

Comment author: Apprentice 29 August 2010 11:37:41AM 9 points [-]

Well, this Bella is an Alicornist - she's introspective and with a problem-solving mentality. In some ways, this fic is a better sell for Alicornism than HP:MOR (which I also like) is for EY's ideas. For one thing, Bella feels like a perfectly plausible 17 year old girl. She's not a prodigy and doesn't have any active magical abilities. It's easy to identify with her and the fic plausibly shows her as the equal of very powerful supernatural beings, just by virtue of adhering to Alicornism.

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 01:09:22PM 10 points [-]

I feel like the word for someone who practices my general belief system should be "unicorn".

Comment author: Apprentice 29 August 2010 10:23:39PM 8 points [-]

So mote it be! Bella is not only a sparkly vampire - she is also a unicorn. Take that, Twilight haters!

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 01:19:37PM 4 points [-]

I feel like the word for someone who practices my general belief system should be "unicorn".

So if I adopted your beliefs that would mean only virgins could touch me? Sounds like that would lead to a LOT of one night stands! ;)

Comment author: Perplexed 18 October 2010 01:54:15AM 6 points [-]

Finally started reading "Luminosity". 26 chapters so far. Very well done, Alicorn. I never read Twilight, so I may be missing some allusions and things, but I just like the story-telling. Even better than HPMOR. Plus Luminosity:Bella is not so completely over-the-top 'Mary-Sue' as is MOR:Harry. She is actually pretty believable. Though, I have to admit, MOR delivers a lot more lulz.

Keep up the good work.

Comment author: wedrifid 13 September 2010 08:17:57AM 6 points [-]

"Of course, Bella." I felt so accommodated. I'd told Aro that my coven didn't revolve around me, but in some sense, since I'd entered their sphere of attention, it had. Bella asked to see vampires doing tricks; Bella wants us to perform egg extraction surgery on her; Bella has been targeted by an unstoppable tracker; Bella needs to be picked up in Italy; Bella has rendered it necessary that we move to Norway; Bella's turning; Bella's a newborn; Bella's a special snowflake; Bella needs a test human; Bella's getting married; Bella needs a private South Atlantic island on which to honeymoon; Bella wants to rescue a human she met once; Bella wants to throw in the human's brother; and now Bella's traipsing around without telling anybody what she's up to...

Bella probably needn't worry too much. I suspect that after hundreds of years of vampire speed enhanced and sleep-free years I'd relish the chance to borrow someone else's goals to achieve for a while if they were willing to share them with me!

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 10:01:25AM 6 points [-]

It is a real shame that Alice's power doesn't work on hybrids. That would have been perfect for eugenics.

"I'm going to pick this one!"

"No, she's a brat."

"This one?"

"Bad temper. Eats her classmates in temper tantrums."

"How about..."

"Dude. Down syndrome. Count the damn chromosomes! Hey, the next one. Use that. He'll be able to shoot laser beams out his eyes!"

But even with the no-hybrid limitation on foresight it will still be worthwhile pursuing Alice based genetic research. A simple option is collecting various sources of human sperm and getting foresight into how each egg of Bella's would turn out with each of 100 possible fathers. That will give plenty of scope for selecting in favour of useful traits, even if you still have to rely on luck with respect to selecting Edward's sperm.

If Rosalie wants to eventually become an adoptive parent too she will have the chance to create a real 'designer baby'.

Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 01:49:50PM 4 points [-]

While I don't want to downplay the effect of genetics on personality, Alice's thwarting by people's choices mean that she wouldn't be able to see far enough ahead to give any better information than "spits up a lot" and "hey, this one sleeps through the night pretty early".

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2010 10:39:18AM 6 points [-]

Bella has counterfactual speed dial. I love the Alice character. :)

I'm looking forward to Bella getting into a fight. It occurs to me that Bella has one of the most significant combat oriented powers around, at least for the next year or so. Newborn strength without loss of control. It'd be a shame for her to waste that by not getting attacked unawares at least once!

Comment author: Alicorn 01 September 2010 11:48:01AM 7 points [-]

Bella has one of the most significant combat oriented powers around

Nah, Alice could beat her up. Alice is fun in a fight - she just dances around and you never land a hit.

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2010 12:13:10PM *  4 points [-]

It's amazing that the Vorturi haven't had Alice killed already. She's the most dangerous being alive. Apart from Bella, whose most dangerous ability is being able to use Alice effectively while also protecting Alice from magical attacks.

The only reason for them not to have tried to kill Alice is because they are are too scared they will fail and end up on her bad side.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 September 2010 12:33:33PM 6 points [-]

No, they haven't killed Alice because they desperately, desperately want to collect her.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 11:27:37AM 3 points [-]

Nah, Alice could beat her up. Alice is fun in a fight - she just dances around and you never land a hit.

I have been thinking about the relative capacities of Alice and Edward in combat situations.

In a direct matchup it would seem that Edward has the upper hand. Alice can see the outcomes of everything that either of them decide to do and Edward can read that information as part of what Alice is thinking. Essentially that puts them on equal footing with respects to mind powers and they are left with a fight that is as transparent as chess. That leaves Edward with an advantage based off mere physical traits. But IQ could tip that balance.

When it comes to fighting other combatants I speculate:

  • Edward retains his advantages when fighting hybrids and wolves. Alice should run away and not waste risk her extremely valuable life fighting without her main advantage. She has no experience (that she remembers) fighting without her foresight so her habits will just get her killed.
  • Alice retains her advantages when fighting shielded opponents. Edward loses the advantage he depends upon.
  • Alice will be far better at avoiding injury - she knows when not to fight!
  • When fighting large number of weaker opponents... I'm tempted to say Alice's power is more useful. There isn't much point Edward trying to read the minds of lots of rabble but Alice may be able to foresee a more general flow for the battle. ie. "What happens if I go to the right and beat on the 100 guys with the pitchforks vs going to the left and attacking the 5 with the burning torches?" But either way they may be better off not wasting their efforts on rabble. They could well both just get headaches trying to track through all the stupidity and indecision then end up dead.
Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 01:43:19PM 6 points [-]

Bella, Alice, and Edward form rock-paper-scissors.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 03:12:09PM 2 points [-]

I take it that you are referring to Bella's newborn strength? As in:

Alice >>> Bella (foresight)
newborn!Bella > Edward (newborn strength without newborn loss of control > slight speed bonus and a century of practice)
Edward > normal!Bella (speed, strength and experience)
Edward > Alice (faster and stronger and slightly more experienced)

I guess in a couple of years a cycle would require the introduction of a fourth, such as:

Alice > normal!Bella
normal!Bella > Alec
Alec > Edward
Edward > Alice

Of course Edward is somewhat redundant. Alec seems like he should be able to beat just about everyone who isn't Bella.

rationalist!Alec: "Hey, um... Boss... remember that time where my sister and I decimated the Romanians and allowed you to usurp their position as rulers of the vampire world? And you know how you maintain that power now because either Jane or I could singlehandedly destroy most covens? Well that chick is immune to both of us and yourself even while she is human. If you can recruit her you will get a new guard with a handy trick. If she turns you she could kill us all! A reward that would be a mere luxury and a risk that you cannot afford... do the math!"

Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 03:24:12PM 4 points [-]

Although it's not demonstrated in the books, Edward can in theory get around Alec. Alec's power works slowly and moves through space; by reading where it's going to be, Edward could just get out of the way. Jane's faster, so he can get gotten by her. Jane cannot, however, singlehandedly destroy a coven, because she's limited to one target at a time and not especially powerful physically.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 04:52:00PM 4 points [-]

I take it that the same applies to Alice? I assume she gets her foresight at the same time that Edward gets his mind reading. That would leave her vulnerable to Jane but not (overwhelmingly) vulnerable to Alec.

How fast can Jane switch targets? Is it crucio Fred... then switch to crucio George and Fred gets up while George falls down in pain? Or does she need to recharge?

Either way crucio; molotov jumps out as her obvious default combat strategy (where prisoners are not desired). Vampire reflexes would (I assume) make flame based projectiles mostly ineffective against vampires that haven't been incapacitated but stunning opens up the mundane 'burn them' option.

I'm not versed in typical vampire combat strategy. Do they make use of fire sources in melee? Flaming torches through to conventional flame throwers may not be useful if the wind from fast travel blows them out but things like oxyacetalyne cutting-torches may be hot enough to handle the pace of vampire combat. These may be best exploited by Wolves given their ability to handle the inevitable splash damage without going up in flames.

Vampires may be better off with incendiary ammunition. Even tracer rounds would at least sting a little. If Alec is as slow as you suggest it sounds like he would be outright irrelevant against any serious opponent. He would have posed a real threat if he could work instantly without travelling through space.

Being a vampire sounds like serious fun!

Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 05:13:35PM *  6 points [-]

Jane seems to be able to switch targets as quickly as she can change who she's looking at. She can attack many times in rapid succession with no apparent need for recharge.

Alice would have some ability to dodge Alec too. However, in a serious fight, where everybody's in melee, Alec isn't usually deployed - the fact that the power moves through ordinary space means he can hit allies just as easily if they're in the way. He's very useful if you don't know he's coming or if you're still trying diplomacy while the Volturi have decided that you need to be dead.

Vampires are not shown to use fire in the heat of battle (pun intended). They use it only to destroy defeated opponents - you shred the bad guy, then gather up all his pieces into a pile and set it alight. My guess is that non-vampire objects simply do not move through the air fast enough or undetectably enough to hit one that's still moving around. So when they fight, they get up close and personal, and they bite and crush and tear. I suppose you could kill vampires if you had a way to explode and ignite them and a large area around them all at once, so it could probably be done, but you'd need time to plant the dynamite.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 05:59:57PM 5 points [-]

My guess is that non-vampire objects simply do not move through the air fast enough or undetectably enough to hit one that's still moving around.

Bullets? Normally they wouldn't be much use but incendiary rounds with a sufficient firing rate should be effective in the space of time when the opponent is closing. Their closer proximity and forward progress makes it unlikely that they would be able to dodge. Especially against a team of 4 standing side by side. Recent developments in technology like that is something that is unlikely to have been fully investigated and probably has potential uses that have not been considered due to how useless guns used to be.

So when they fight, they get up close and personal, and they bite and crush and tear.

Not even melee weapons? For example, swords or even heavy gauntlets made of tungsten carbide? Anything to add weight to a strike. Relative to their strength vampires are incredibly light and the extra kinetic energy would make a huge difference.

Vampires literally limiting themselves to biting, crushing and tearing with only their bodies as weapons is better explained by a combination of narrative appeal, animal instincts and tradition than by considered evaluation of optimal tactics.

Incidentally, just how durable is a vampire? Obviously they are able to damage each other and wolves and werewolves seem to be able to kill them from time to time. Even Carlisle's father apparently hunted them. Where do they fit in relative to, well, any material known to man?

Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 07:20:53PM *  5 points [-]

It doesn't seem that vampires are a great deal more flammable than, say, humans. I'm not sure if an incendiary round would catch.

i will, at any rate, not be including guns in the story even if it makes sense, because I really, really, really hate them and gosh darn it I am doing this because it's fun.

Swords would probably break - really durable gauntlets have potential, although I've got enough other things to throw at Bella that she's not going to have a chance to get down to weapons research for at least a while.

It's not clear exactly how durable a vampire is. They are not endangered by car crashes even at very high speed. Edward claims in canon that he could kick out the wall of an out-of-control airplane and jump out without hurting himself, while carrying Bella, without getting her killed. Given the opportunity, one vampire can dismantle another without serious taxation of strength - there's no vampire shown who definitely couldn't take apart an incapacitated foe.

They are composed in such a way that sharpness matters - vampire teeth can pierce vampire skin in a bitey way rather than merely in a crushy way, and venom is the only thing that leaves a scar. (Thence Jasper's.) Werewolves are supernaturally fast and strong and sharp and whatnot too, so it's unclear how much we can extrapolate from their ability to contend with vampires. (It does seem like one vampire versus one Quileute-type werewolf will usually mean a win for a vampire except under special circumstances, like the vampire being distracted for a moment by nearby blood. Wolves come in packs, though, and fight together with far greater efficiency than a coven of vamps does.) We have almost no information on Children of the Moon.

Comment author: sketerpot 25 August 2010 06:55:59PM 6 points [-]

(warning: white text on black background).

This class of problems has a general solution: the Readability Bookmarklet. It adjusts the colors, font size, margins, and so on, with the press of a button. It's useful all over the place.

Comment author: thomblake 25 August 2010 07:20:46PM 1 point [-]

Hey, I hadn't even thought of making a bookmarklet for general readability. Off to code my own - maybe I can even make this website look halfway decent.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 October 2010 04:23:50AM *  1 point [-]

Readability is also a Firefox Add-On, for those who prefer to deal with it on that basis.

Though, personally, I agree with Maddox; light text on dark backgrounds is awesome!

Comment author: FAWS 25 August 2010 09:06:15AM *  6 points [-]

My biggest issue with the fic so far is that the bizzare way Alice's precognition interacts with peoples decisions (I have no idea whether it works like that in the original novels since I haven't read a word from them) doesn't seem to puzzle Bella at all.

If people are just a physical system like any other Alice's powers should be able to predict them just like any other physical system. Since they are strangely unpredictable for her exploring what other physical systems are similarly unpredictable should provide information on how people work. For instance if Alice can't predict anything influenced by quantum events that would be a big clue that quantum events are involved in cognition. if she can't predict anything sufficiently chaotic (in the chaos theory sense) that would give away how chaotic people's decision making is.

If nothing inanimate poses similar difficulties that points towards either a psychological limitation she might be able to break out of, or the existence of some sort of magical free will in that universe. Do any animals have it? In addition to humans vampires obviously also do. And pointing this out to Edward (who apparently believes in the existence of souls, but also that he doesn't have one) might be useful.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 August 2010 01:44:57PM 7 points [-]

I'm trying to be canon-compliant in terms of worldbuilding and all characters except Bella. So, yeah, Alice's power works pretty much the same way in the originals, although I've found excuses to bring it up more frequently.

My (largely surface level, not physics-inspired) explanation for her limitations is that people's decisions are the only things liable to be affected by her advance knowledge. The weather doesn't change based on what she or anyone else does, and so she is a perfectly reliable meteorologist except at time scales so far in advance that butterfly effect type stuff starts adding up. However, when she sees things, even if she tells no one, her own decisions change, and so does what Edward can see in her head, etc.

Alice's visions are: a) purely visual, b) do not tend to have vantage points from inside of objects, c) are only mostly under her control, and d) can be changed even after she's become very confident in them. She cannot see inside people's future minds. She can't perfectly decide what to see. The sorts of things that upset her visions after she's had them are reactions to that vision itself in her or others (like when she sees Bella telling her something that there is subsequently no reason for Bella to share), decisions that haven't been made yet being prompted by other factors (like when James's coven heard the baseball game), and people deliberately exploiting the nature of her visions (the way James did).

In canon, it turns out that she can't see Quileute wolves or half-vampires, nor things they affect, at all - the initial supposition is that Quileutes are just too unpredictable because of how their shapeshifting is unexpected, but that's patently ridiculous. They often do predictable things and many have good control over their "phasing". In the last book she blames the gap on "half breeds" in general and says she can see humans because she was one and vampires because she is one. In neither case does canon indicate that she actually knows what's going on instead of just guessing, so I'm going to freely invent here.

As a character, Bella cares somewhat more about what it is that various powers can accomplish than the mechanism that makes them work. It is obvious to her from the moment she learns about Alice's abilities that Alice has the ability to save her from various miserable fates like getting hit by a car. (In canon, Edward had to risk exposure to knock her out of the way, because he'd kept telling Alice to stay out of the situation and she was getting only involuntary Bella-visions, not paying attention to her deliberately for informational purposes.) Bella is unlikely to devote considerable time to devising Alicey experiments until the very serious gaps in precog as used with wolves and half-vamps come up. At that time, learning how the power works can confer a significant practical improvement if there's a way to work around it. Before, Alice is unlikely to become significantly more valuable via information about the nuts and bolts of her visions.

Comment author: FAWS 25 August 2010 03:03:10PM 4 points [-]

Well, obviously her visions only show her the future as it would have been, had she not received that vision, or something like that. But since she can see counter-factual futures the fact that her reaction would undo a particular future can't explain why she doesn't see that future in the first place.

You could further stipulate that she can only see futures that are indiscriminate to the way her visions counter-factually ended up not to containing them , i. e. that turn out the same whether she counter-factually changed her mind on trying to see that future or counter-factually tried but failed, or something similar (e. g. that she counter-factually received some other vision, counter-factually based on yet another, but only when the visions cycle between a limited number of possibilities, which leads to similar results with somewhat different details).

This would not explain why her visions fail even if the undecided subject is sufficiently far away not to be influenced by nuances of her counter-factual reactions, i. e. when trying to see what someone is doing between now and time X when X is the earliest possible point when she could affect anything. Maybe she can't see anything she couldn't possibly see with her own eyes no matter what she does, so she can't receive those sorts of visions in the first place. But finding out would still be useful (e. g. so she could arrange for really fast transportation on hand to increase her vision range). And if what's blocking her visions vs. "undecided" things is of the sort speculated about above she could circumvent it with suitable precommitments and staying outside the subjects actual sensory range (while the subject is still within her potential sensory range).

As for your explanations why your Bella does not care to find out, it's your character, but it does seem somewhat at odds with the stated irresistibility of mysteries for her, or the way she insists on testing the various vampire abilities. Also finding out might have allowed for a more convenient way to block her from reading her notebook entries, and possibly allowed her to find James.

Comment author: Euphemism 28 August 2010 08:10:41PM 5 points [-]

You know, I'd never thought I'd stay up late (2AM!) reading Twilight fanfiction. I've done it for Harry Potter, but Twilight?

In any case, possible manipulation of Alice's precognition makes me think of Kavka's toxin puzzle

In particular, if Bella intends to do something knowing it will trigger Alice to see it in the future, but then the payoff comes through via Alice seeing it... it's not quite the same setup.

I don't think this actually occurs in the story up to where I'm currently at (I recall a scene where Bella mentions she'll do something/say something to Alice, Alice sees it in the future and explains it, Bella questions it, and Alice says that what she saw was what would have happened if she hadn't seen the vision), but I do wonder if this could apply some limitations in some form - 'I intend to do X that I really really don't want to do, but will do it because it will trigger Alice's vision which will then make it so that I don't have to do it'.

Comment author: magfrump 25 August 2010 10:32:05AM 4 points [-]

If you imagine that the future is modeled by differential equations, and that Alice can discern the coefficients for these equations to within a certain value, there will be certain equations which are obviously determined (f~=f' and others which aren't (f~=.0001*f')

In the same way that people feel that tables are solid, because the reaction to their hand is fairly determined, and pillows are soft, because the reaction depends on how you're moving your hand, it makes sense (to me) that predicting the future could easily have fuzzy areas.

If this isn't how it works, then Alice should be able to do NP-complete problems in polynomial time, as in rationalist!Harry's experience with the time turner. Perhaps this will be explored?

Comment author: Alicorn 25 August 2010 01:26:14PM 4 points [-]

Wow, that sounds like including it might involve math. Sorry.

Comment author: magfrump 25 August 2010 08:06:13PM 3 points [-]

Kind of... but mostly I just mean if you have a problem that is easy to check if you have the answer but hard to find the answer in the first place (this is what NP-complete means) then Alice can look at the future when you found the answer and told her what it is, then tell you the answer now and you only have to check it. (locating the answer is what would make NP = P, iirc. There's currently a proof that this is impossible in peer review.)

If there is some kind of fuzziness like I described then she might just see a piece of paper with an equation or something. If she can read text then this is a serious problem for luminosity!theoretical compute science.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 August 2010 08:27:56PM *  4 points [-]

It would take almost as long to check things like this with Alice as it would to manually check things alone. You'd have to make up your mind to check each possible answer individually, and then Alice could see what would happen if you went on to actually check it. It might save a little time relative to actually going through elaborate checking rigmarole, although adding a second person to the task would make it more person-hours on net.

But you can't just make up your mind to check every possible answer, without picking out a specific one and going, "I'm planning to check this one and then stop". That isn't a plausible thing for you to decide to do if you actually know how hard it's supposed to be, because there's no way you'll actually do it. So Alice can't see you finding the answer.

Comment author: pengvado 26 August 2010 02:07:36AM *  4 points [-]

Exploiting causal loops to solve NP problems does not involve checking all candidates in sequence and then transporting the answer back. Rather, it involves checking only one candidate, but deciding which candidate to check in such a way that the situation is self-consistent if and only if that one candidate is the correct answer. In context, this depends on being able to foresee the outcome of a simple firmly decided conditional strategy, where the events you plan to condition on are the contents of the vision itself.

So if the visions are generated by a computationally unbounded process that extrapolates from inexact snapshots of the present (which include plans and dispositions but not some of the other contents of minds), then the NP trick could work: The dependency of the future on Alice's reaction to the vision is well-defined and available to the extrapolation process. Or it could just give her a headache; that's self-consistent too.

If the vision generator refuses to hypothesize any visions within the extrapolation process, or if it doesn't care whether extrapolated-Alice gets false visions, or if it's computationally bounded and only iterates towards a fixed point at a limited rate, then the trick would fail.

And if it's not extrapolation-based, then I dunno, but I can't think of any interpretations that would be incompatible with a headache.

Comment author: Pavitra 26 August 2010 02:11:55AM 1 point [-]

But Alice's power doesn't work like that. It predicts the future conditional on Alice not having seen the prediction.

Comment author: magfrump 26 August 2010 05:48:58AM 3 points [-]

But the point is that you can solve these problems, just that it takes significantly longer to solve them than it does to check the answer once you have it.

So you decide to do a brute force calculation on a computer for three days, write down the answer and tell her (a la kavitra's comment) then she sees the answer on the paper in the future and you change your mind and just check the answer.

Because Alice sees without the prediction, there's no need to have a stable causal loop like pengvado discusses.

Comment author: Pavitra 25 August 2010 09:25:03PM 1 point [-]

So it's mostly useful for problems of moderate solvability, that you could solve without the power, given a considerable effort (but not more effort than you would be willing to actually put forth).

For example, you could set Hashcash to mint some expensive stamp, and firmly decide to check its output in three days.

(For those who don't want to take the time to read the link, Hashcash is a proof-of-work system based on brute-force partial preimage attacks against hash (one-way) algorithms.)

Comment author: grautry 25 October 2010 02:21:31AM 5 points [-]

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

I certainly wasn't expecting that. Still, I'd like to congratulate you on actually going through with it, most people wouldn't have the guts to do something this big.

Anyway, is my interpretation - that Luminosity!Bella's shield also has some sort of an enhanced-immortality power - correct? If so, that would be an interesting turn of events.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 02:51:12AM 3 points [-]

Luminosity!Bella's shield also has some sort of an enhanced-immortality power

If you want to phrase it that way, I suppose it's an okay label. When the existence of her mind is in danger, the shield will force her body into the minimum adequate configuration for her mind to go on existing, but it's not omnipotent. She would have died if it had been a long time since her last feeding, or if her pieces had been scattered over a square mile or more before being set on fire, or if she'd just been ignited again after the flames went out.

Comment author: lsparrish 25 October 2010 02:39:29AM 1 point [-]

This is awesome writing. I totally didn't see it coming.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 October 2010 12:50:59PM *  5 points [-]

Rachel had nominated Leah to test the pack's range, and Leah had run all the way to Canada (but not near Denali, thankfully). There was no noticeable delay, static, or loss of fidelity to the telepathy.

This is just begging for more tests! ;)

And the Maggie thing is just incredibly cute!

Comment author: Alicorn 06 October 2010 03:19:57PM 4 points [-]

And the Maggie thing is just incredibly cute!

I'm glad people seem to be having as much fun with Maggie as I am. She's a hoot to write.

Comment author: Pavitra 12 September 2010 11:09:25PM 5 points [-]

Hypothesis: fairy tales originally come from accounts of vampires.

Assuming that fairy-tale nobility are Twivamps explains so much. They can "live happily ever after" because they're genuinely deathless; they're supernaturally beautiful; the beautiful peasant-girl that the noble prince falls in love with is turned, the magically healing kiss is actually a bite (or maybe just a kiss -- vampires have venom instead of saliva, right?); they fall in love at first sight and stay that way forever.

Prince Charming is a vampire.

Comment author: wedrifid 31 August 2010 08:53:45AM 5 points [-]

So Bella is actually stronger than the Cullens? That's a new twist! I've never encountered a vampire myth in which newborns were not significantly weaker than vampires a couple of decades old and those vampires in turn not significantly weaker than centenarians.

How much of this greater strength relates to the Cullen's self-sabotaging diet? None of the Cullen's seemed particularly intimidated by James, Laurent or Victoria so I take it that the difference between 'vegetarian' and carnivorous vampires is less significant than the difference between carnivores and newborns.

Is there any particular advantage to being a 1,000 year old vampire in this world? Just the experiences, skills and allies you have accumulated? Gradually improving witchcraft powers?

Is it a net disadvantage to be ancient? Some deal with translucent skin and bad eyesight? Or were the Vorturi weird in some different way?

To be honest I find the prospect of a world of vampires in a female targeted reality not gaining power with age rather surprising!

Comment author: Alicorn 31 August 2010 12:30:32PM *  6 points [-]

take it that the difference between 'vegetarian' and carnivorous vampires is less significant than the difference between carnivores and newborns.

Correct. Drinking human blood out of newborn phase makes vampires stronger, but only a little bit, and it makes them worse at certain sorts of thinking - it's almost a tossup in a fight. Newborns are much stronger than non-, and (unless, as I interpret the situation, they have advance warning of the turning process) much less clearheaded.

Is there any particular advantage to being a 1,000 year old vampire in this world? Just the experiences, skills and allies you have accumulated? Gradually improving witchcraft powers?

Experiences, skills, and allies are definitely nontrivial. Control improves with time, although anthropophagic vampires value that considerably less. Witchcraft is shown in canon to improve over time with practice... for Bella. (It's implied that one of the Denalis has also gotten better at his considerably less flashy power, or rather better at interpreting what it tells him. If you count Carlisle's immunity to human blood as a power, he's improved a lot over the centuries.) It's not clear whether this is because most vampires are happy with what they get and don't work on it, or because most witchcraft isn't readily improved upon.

Is it a net disadvantage to be ancient? Some deal with translucent skin and bad eyesight? Or were the Vorturi weird in some different way?

It's never outright stated whether the Volturi's weird skin and eyes actually confer physical disadvantages, and I haven't decided how to cash it out in Luminosity yet. Some even older vampires who ruled before the Volturi did, in book 4, consider it a sign of complacency or something, and say that they used to have the same traits but they've since been reversed with their deposition.

Comment author: wedrifid 31 August 2010 12:46:05PM *  5 points [-]

Thanks for the explanation. Compared to some other fictional realities I have investigated Twilight seems relatively harder to find practical descriptions of.

It's never outright stated whether the Volturi's weird skin and eyes actually confer physical disadvantages, and I haven't decided how to cash it out in Luminosity yet. Some even older vampires who ruled before the Volturi did, in book 4, consider it a sign of complacency or something, and say that they used to have the same traits but they've since been reversed with their deposition.

Now that is fascinating. I saw some reference to the two Romanian vampires who survived when the Volturi overthrew them and it got me curious. If the Romanians actually had the cataracts and weird skin but lost in due to improved behavioural patterns or perhaps with the change in status, well, that is the sort of thing that makes me tempted to go ahead and read the Twilight books myself to pick up hints.

But I suspect I would find Twilight unbearable now, having just absorbed 31 chapters of Luminosity. I love the Luminosity characters and it would be infuriating to have them revert to fools.

Comment author: Alicorn 31 August 2010 12:53:31PM 12 points [-]

But I suspect I would find Twilight unbearable now, having just absorbed 31 chapters of Luminosity. I love the Luminosity characters and it would be infuriating to have them revert to fools.

I hope that in writing Luminosity I haven't discouraged anyone from reading Twilight. They are flawed books, it's true. But the biggest flaw is misplaced emphasis, I think. They have the resources, embedded in the text, to be truly fantastic; as it is they're mostly just easy and pleasant reads, because Meyer pays attention to the weaker parts of her characterization and world. It is my guess that if you've read Luminosity, it will encourage you to read the canon books the way I first read them, automatically sifting through the content to get the good parts and mentally apologizing for the bad parts.

luminous!Bella doesn't bear the same relationship to canon!Bella that rational!Harry bears to canon!Harry. canon!Harry could not have become rational!Harry - MoR couldn't be a single point of departure fic. Too much else is in the mix. Whereas canon!Bella, making a handful of different choices when she was nine or ten or eleven, could have become luminous!Bella, and changed everything. (All the other characters are the same, changed only insofar as my copying is imperfect and insofar as they react to a different Bella.)

If you like, think of canon Twilight as slightly inferior, thematically different fanfiction of Luminosity :P

Comment author: wedrifid 31 August 2010 12:55:18PM 5 points [-]

If you like, think of canon Twilight as slightly inferior, thematically different fanfiction of Luminosity :P

I like that framing. I may just do that. :)

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 04:47:47PM 5 points [-]

So, assuming that I found Twilight movie moderately lame and haven't read the novels, would you recommend I take a look at this fanfic?

It occurs to me that this fanfic would make the worst feature of Twilight bearable. Vampires that glitter and sparkle in the light at least do justice to the title "Luminosity" even if they are a disgrace to the vampire myth.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 August 2010 06:02:56PM 8 points [-]

Sparkly vampires are not the worst feature of Twilight.

Anyway, no affection for or knowledge of Twilight is required to enjoy Luminosity. Although if sparkly vampires really piss you off, then perhaps you won't like it; I'm canon-compliant in the worldbuilding department up to and including sparkles.

Comment author: FAWS 28 August 2010 06:45:08PM 5 points [-]

I guess someone other than Alicorn should also answer this.

It's competently written and pretty enjoyable, but not as much as Methods of Rationality.

I haven't read so much as a word from the novels nor watched so much as a trailer from any of the movies, and had successfully avoided learning anything about the contents except the names of the two protagonists and that it's a paranormal romance with sparkling vampires and werewolves (I despise paranormal romances and vampire fiction in general). I had no trouble at all following along, and the world managed to not come across as exceptionally stupid, contrary to the very vague second hand impressions I had, despite apparently canon compliant world building. It starts a bit slow but is pretty engaging despite the long introspective monologues, which must be difficult to pull off. It's much more down to earth than Methods of Rationality, nowhere near as crazy, doesn't contain as much humor and is much more even in tone.

Comment author: Jonii 30 August 2010 01:33:16PM 4 points [-]

I liked this a lot more than HP:MOR, despite the fact that I never found luminosity sequence all that interesting. I'm thinking I should reread it, though. I've never read or seen anything twilight-related prior to reading this fanfic. It's well written, light and enjoyable.

Comment author: seraph 21 October 2010 03:01:25AM 4 points [-]

What I've never understood is why nobody ever rates Chelsea as a genuine target. Think about it, how many members of the guard only stay there under Chelsea's power. Marcus has defiantly been defined as one. And who else acts emotionless because of her power making them stay and act like slaves. Alec, Demetri, Reneta, they all act just as emotionless and subservient as Marcus. If I was trying to take out the Volturri I would so schedule an all out blitz to kill her. It would really help Bella out if half the Volturri guard came back to themselves and ether helps or ran after her death. And before you say that Chelsea isn't that powerful just look at how they talk about her in the book. Aro's whole strategy relies on her. Losing Alec or Jane would be an enormous loss but Aro all out depends on Chelsea forcing everyone to stay on his side.

Comment author: Alicorn 21 October 2010 03:13:51AM 4 points [-]

I will definitely be handling Chelsea as a major threat when her part comes up, never fear.

Or, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to see characters in soul-ripping agony... fear! Fear lots! :)

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 01:24:42AM 4 points [-]

I suspect that Bella's problems trying to figure out how to control vampires would probably solve themselves once she removes the Volturi from power; if the vampires get out of hand, the human governments would notice, and they'd wind up bringing ever-escalating amounts of hardware to defeat them.

If she uses her father to make the appropriate connections with the US law enforcement agencies, she could probably make the transition from vampiric vigilantism to human law enforcement as smooth and painless as possible. He's a police chief; odds are that he knows how to contact the FBI, and they won't play around, especially once she demonstrates her vampiric superpowers.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 01:47:11AM 6 points [-]

I haven't stated this explicitly in the story, so that's fair enough, but I think an FBI that became aware of vampires would probably try to make them extinct, not tolerate the ones that are trying real hard now to quit the murder habit.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 02:27:49AM 5 points [-]

I sort of doubt that, actually; they're restricted by the rules and laws they're required to follow. They can't arrest someone without evidence; in order to arrest a vampire for eating people, they'd need to be able to connect a particular vampire with particular incidents of people being eaten. At most, they'd be able to kill the vampires that go on open rampages, or which killed law enforcement officers and fled over state lines.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 02:37:54AM *  7 points [-]

You can't arrest a vampire unless, for some reason, that vampire is willing to be arrested. There is nothing you can do that will keep a live vampire in one place that isn't a) blasting it to smithereens so it takes a while to reassemble or b) getting another vampire to physically hang onto it for you (or if your helpful vampire is Alec, getting him to stare at it magically). Or at least credibly threatening to do one of those things or kill it. The normal rule of law just isn't something you can slap on a vampire and expect it to stick.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 02:49:58AM 5 points [-]

Ultimately all of the law is simply the threatened use of force; "Come with us, or suffer the consequences." In this case, they simply don't bother with nonlethal force (barring vampire police officers, which is entirely possible if Bella's working with the government), and go straight to "If you resist arrest, we'll kill you."

I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was entirely possible to construct a prison capable of holding a vampire, either; it'd just take a lot more resources than any individual vampire is likely to possess. Their strength is finite, after all; sufficiently thick steel will be capable of resisting their blows, so a sufficiently durable metal cube with a trough underneath a pipe in the roof (to hold animal blood for them to eat) should be more than capable of holding one more or less indefinitely.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 02:57:06AM 7 points [-]

If you pause to make that threat to a vampire, it can probably kill you or escape. They move too quickly for humans to handle. If it can't actually escape, it can probably get a hostage or three so if you set it on fire or attack it with sufficient blunt trauma, an innocent human dies. If the only people around are the folks holding the burny weapons, and those weapons have enough range that the vampire can't get away from where they'll shoot within the human's reaction time (i.e. if you have a circle with a radius of a football field or more ready to go up in flames the instant the vamp moves), well, then you have a credible threat, but how do you transport the vampire to your steel cube without relaxing those conditions?

The steel, btw, doesn't have to break when the vampire hits it. The vampire could just claw at it and tunnel through.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 September 2010 06:14:54AM 8 points [-]

The steel, btw, doesn't have to break when the vampire hits it. The vampire could just claw at it and tunnel through.

Which is why you make the walls out of caesium with a layer of tungsten carbide on the outside. Sure, they might be able to claw all the way through the metal... and reach the layer of water that the cage is submerged in.

This is just another example of why vampires are not nearly as scary as engineering is. They are a lot more sexy, but the reason even they don't control each other using modern science is because it isn't as sexy. Sure, Alec can anaethatise folks and they can all tear things to shreds in their immediate vicinity. Edward can incapacitate all girls and gay guys in the immediate vicinity with sultry looks and incidentally read minds and run fast. All terribly sexy and dangerous. All pale in comparison to what you can do with an ICBM or a surgical strike with napalm bombers.

Bella was playing for keeps (and not being a protagonist in an engaging fictional piece) she could have wiped the Volturi from the face of the earth in less time than it took to turn a bunch of native Americans into big sexy-but-only-moderately-dangerous canines. She could use the skills of the Cullens to infiltrate a suitable military base and use military resources to level the Volturi headquarters.

There would be difficulties to overcome and research to be done. They would need to find a way to stop Edward being shot down by fighter aircraft while doing his bombing run or a way to navigate all the security protocols protecting nuclear missile launches. These may be real challenges. But they are all challenges relating to overcoming those with the real relevant power: human military organisations.

The hard part, of course, is finding a way to replace the Volturi, sans the evil. It would take human-equivalent decades of time to develop technology for suitable non-lethal force against vampires. Then more time to arrange for suitable prisons. And the socio-political difficulties in both creating a government and in dealing with a bunch of xenophobic humans seem to be very nearly insurmountable. (So the Volturi are doing a more important public service than any other government.)

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 02:34:50PM 2 points [-]

and reach the layer of water that the cage is submerged in.

And this part would do what, exactly?

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 28 September 2010 04:11:36PM 9 points [-]

Rubidium and Cesium in water

Very serious explodey

Comment author: wedrifid 28 September 2010 05:32:35AM 6 points [-]

but how do you transport the vampire to your steel cube without relaxing those conditions?

Dismemberment.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 03:49:07AM 4 points [-]

I'm pretty sure the threat would be implicit to the act of asserting governing power over those vampires; it's pretty much implicit in the act of asserting governance over any people, so why would vampires be any different? The only real difference is the difference in the amount of force needed to cow them, which prevents non-lethal captures without their cooperation.

As for burrowing, there are likely solutions for that as well; a sufficiently hard surface treatment would be able to resist scratching by the vampire, while still possessing the lion's share of the ductility of the under-layer. Said surface layer could well also have the property of corrosion resistance, if that's needed to resist vampire venom, as well.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 03:56:22AM 4 points [-]

How hard a surface is necessary? If vampires can cut diamonds then there's nothing on earth capable of holding one.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 03:59:08AM 5 points [-]

It's not specified in canon. I'm going to rule that a newborn vampire can bite through a diamond. (Teeth are special-sharp, plus venom.)

Comment author: wedrifid 28 September 2010 05:29:05AM 3 points [-]

That doesn't strictly follow. It does mean that you wouldn't be able to hold them without restricting their movement.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 12:43:45PM 1 point [-]

Right, of course. But that'll take some astonishingly strong shackles.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 03:59:29AM 1 point [-]

Not sure; I'm not that familiar with the Twilight canon. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of said canon can say what their best feats in this regard are?

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 03:55:22AM *  4 points [-]

A vampire doesn't need to risk as much collateral damage to fight/contain/kill another vampire. If you've got a vamp running around in Times Square thumbing its nose at the cops, and you are a human who wants to threaten it, you have to be willing to level a few city blocks if it doesn't do what you say. Not so if you are a vampire.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 04:03:36AM *  2 points [-]

This is true, which is why I'd expect that the government would probably want some of its trusted employees turned, so that they'd be capable of dealing with vampires without needing enough firepower to level the block said vampire happens to be living in.

Volunteers, of course; the process of turning is probably too painful to force someone to do it legally.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 September 2010 05:21:20AM 4 points [-]

Volunteers, of course; the process of turning is probably too painful to force someone to do it legally.

You haven't slept for a long time now. Have you made a decision? This can't go on. You have to decide.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 28 September 2010 08:52:21PM 3 points [-]

It's easier to just have a death sentence for escaping. This way you can use almost regular prisons.

Comment author: mjr 28 September 2010 09:55:55AM 4 points [-]

I sort of doubt that any legal rights would be extended to vampires as a matter of course were they found out, so I'd side with Alicorn on this one. Turning and indoctrinating your own larger vamp police force on the sly would probably be more productive, but obviously also risky. Use fierce human rights activists? ;]

One could arrange to out vampires if they don't behave (including if the one threatening this is killed) and therefore call the collective wrath of the human military industrial complex upon them (see The Salvation War ;). Of course, this would require that most vamps would see the threat as credible and dangerous, and would co-operate in policing the unavoidable defectors efficiently enough for the blackmailer to be satisfied. This may be a tall order, and could lead to open war on follow-through.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 02:39:05AM 2 points [-]

That will slow them down, but I don't think it will affect their attitude.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 01:42:00AM 4 points [-]

I was trying to decide if that was feasible, but then I remembered that Carlisle was fighting vampires as a human centuries before.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 01:47:24AM 4 points [-]

And weapons technology has just been getting better and better since then. SWAT team members with antitank weapons are probably capable of wounding vampires, if they hit, and an airstrike from something like an A-10 is likely to be unsurvivable, if the vampire hasn't vacated the area before it arrives.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 01:45:30AM 3 points [-]

Well, he was trying, anyway.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 02:04:24AM 2 points [-]

...interesting!

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 02:07:37AM *  6 points [-]

What? I summarized Carlisle's turning in chapter 19. His dad had it in for witches, werewolves, and vampires, and got Carlisle to help kill members of that reference class. Now, werewolves and vampires are damn hard to take down, and I never said Carlisle killed any of those, but there are some vulnerable witches in the world. Carlisle did corner a vampire, who turned Carlisle, killed two others, kidnapped a fourth guy, and then got away.

Comment author: RobinZ 28 September 2010 02:15:57AM 3 points [-]

I was under the impression that Carlisle's dad's organization was capable of taking on vampires - it makes much more sense to say that they had ambitions, but that they couldn't without a great deal of luck.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 September 2010 02:41:02AM 5 points [-]

Carlisle's dad was painted as a fanatic who wasn't careful about sorting real vampires (witches, werewolves) from fake vampires (witches, werewolves). He probably offed somebody with porphyria at least once, and some mentally ill folks, and some real witches. Carlisle was more careful and found an actual vampire but couldn't kill it.

Comment author: mjr 25 September 2010 06:52:04AM 4 points [-]

Sounds like Gianna will be the one to persuade Maggie, though feel free not to confirm or deny ;]

Wonder though how a vamp would be so sure of her eventual preference, given that it's a one-time mystical bond. Ah well, perhaps it correlates well.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 September 2010 03:10:49PM 6 points [-]

Although Stephenie Meyer didn't include any gay people in her canon (Maggie is canon, but no remarks whatever are made of her romantic inclinations), she has said that gay humans turn into gay vampires. Also, the whole "mystical bond" thing is never spelled out in so many words in canon, although it is blatantly obvious anyway - it's characterized as simply falling in love. So I decided Maggie's going to be gay in Luminosity, and given that she's aware of this, she has excellent reason to expect her mate to be a girl.

Comment author: Pavitra 01 October 2010 07:05:59PM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure Gianna and Maggie are going to be mated.

Comment author: RobinZ 16 September 2010 02:18:12AM 4 points [-]

Are there any turned too-old-to-become-Quileute-werewolf vampires in canon? Because I'm hoping that Mr. Clearwater will have some interesting powers... :)

Comment author: Alicorn 16 September 2010 02:21:38AM 3 points [-]

Canon features no such vampires.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 September 2010 03:15:16AM 1 point [-]

I'm hoping they try it! Perhaps do some blood tests first to see if their is a different reaction to a similar test on normal human blood...

Comment author: wedrifid 12 September 2010 08:11:01PM 4 points [-]

With respect to 'alpha of the pack' considerations am I right in inferring that Twilight 'Wolves' differ from actual wolves in as much as they actually have an 'alpha' rather than an 'alpha pair'? Descriptions I've seen from the Twilight universe seem to be more in line with, say gorilla social structure than wolf social structure.

I would blame any tendencies towards patriarchy on the primate side not the 'wolf' side of the magic (or just on Meyer).

Comment author: Alicorn 12 September 2010 08:16:41PM 4 points [-]

Right, it's a single alpha, not a pair.

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2010 05:01:38AM *  4 points [-]

"Links" on the luminous.elcenia.com site is broken.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 September 2010 12:02:22PM 5 points [-]

Now it's not.

Comment author: Clippy 26 August 2010 02:03:12PM 7 points [-]

I want to write a fanfic about paperclips.

Maybe I could also use it to teach correct reasoning.

Comment author: tenshiko 25 October 2010 11:13:23AM 3 points [-]

General question about biology in this fanfic: What would happen if a vampire was just completely deprived of blood? Say they were trapped in a steel box with no seams and couldn't get out. Would they just sit there suffering forever? Or would a lack of blood for that long eventually kill them?

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 12:39:42PM 3 points [-]

Well, a steel box with no seams wouldn't do the trick, but say you marooned a vampire on the Moon, I think lack of blood could eventually kill them, but it would take a very long time.

Comment author: nick012000 25 October 2010 08:56:08AM *  3 points [-]

Is it just me, or does it look like Bella's true power is that she can do anything so long as she can imagine it and honestly justify it as necessary to maintain the integrity of her mind?

If so, when she inevitably goes for revenge for Edward's death against the Volturri, she could very possibly just deprogram the werewolves and splatter the vampires because if she doesn't, they'll rip her to bits and then light her on fire and not stop until she's properly ashes.

At the very least, she should be able to think "If my body is damaged, my mind will be destroyed when I inevitably lose the fight; therefore, my body cannot be damaged" and become nigh-invulnerable physically.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 12:43:51PM 5 points [-]

I stated elsewhere that the shield isn't omnipotent. It also won't prevent injury that isn't mind-threatening. For instance, if she were broken into pieces and not set on fire, this wouldn't be immediately life-threatening, so nothing would happen. Then, by the time she'd be in danger of death by starvation due to being unable to eat while in fragments, she wouldn't have enough energy left that the shield could draw power. She can be killed by anyone who's paying attention. It's just harder for her to be killed accidentally or carelessly.

Comment author: Pavitra 25 October 2010 08:48:05PM 1 point [-]

She can be killed by anyone who's paying attention.

...and who understands how her shield works and is clever enough to think of a way around it.

Still, this significantly lowers the probability that she could bring Edward back by convincing her shield that she can't remain sane with her mate dead, which was my previous top candidate strategy for resurrecting him.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 08:50:53PM 6 points [-]

Nah, attention alone would do it. Even someone who wasn't very clever could have noted, "Oh, she's not on fire any more. I'd better set her on fire again." That would've done it.

Comment author: mjr 20 October 2010 10:19:44AM 3 points [-]

Ahh, the shit is hitting the fan. (Incidentally, hopefully Harry also will get kicked into a bit higher gear with the next installment... Time-travel with Quirrel is promising.)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand: I bet Elspeth is going to end up weaponized against the twins, turning their powers against themselves. With lots of drama.

Comment author: erratio 19 October 2010 10:47:52AM 3 points [-]

I have discovered that this fanfic makes for an excellent Cliff Notes to Twilight. The other day I had a whole conversation with my friend about werewolf imprinting! Thanks Alicorn! ;)

Comment author: Alicorn 19 October 2010 11:51:35AM 6 points [-]

Ha, you should be aware that while I'm canon compliant, I'm not limited to canon. So I fill in a lot of blanks. For instance, on the subject of imprinting, canon never explicitly rules out the possibility of female wolves imprinting (Leah's the only one in canon, and it could just as well be coincidence that she doesn't happen to see her imprint during the course of the story).

Comment author: gwern 19 October 2010 01:24:35PM 4 points [-]

Reminds me of a nice LW quote:

"Everyone is bound by the laws of nature. The enlightened are not restricted by them."

--Annoyance, http://lesswrong.com/lw/4z/hyakujos_fox/3gj?c=1

Comment author: wedrifid 17 October 2010 03:05:17AM 3 points [-]

While it isn't on the order of irony of 'Buffy', if you name a daughter that is likely to develop telepathic powers Elspeth you had best make sure she doesn't start doing anything suspicious around fantasy fiction enthusiasts. (Was that coincidental?)

(In finding the link I just discovered she has written another two books in the series. Here I was thinking a 9 year break was a good indication that it was over!)

Comment author: Alicorn 17 October 2010 12:44:42PM *  3 points [-]

I've never read those books and hadn't heard of the character. I just like the name "Elspeth", and had an in-story excuse for them to pick something in that neighborhood.

Comment author: CronoDAS 17 October 2010 06:18:24AM 1 point [-]

The name reminds me more of Mercedes Lackey's novels, actually. The name seems to "feel" somewhat fantasy-esque, somehow...

Comment author: wedrifid 17 October 2010 11:42:04AM 1 point [-]

Oh? Should I read them? I've been looking for new authors.

The name seems to "feel" somewhat fantasy-esque, somehow...

It's also sounds really cute. Perhaps I've forever been biased by the first fantasy books that I read in my formative years...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 October 2010 12:12:36PM 2 points [-]

What sort of fiction are you looking for?

Comment author: wedrifid 17 October 2010 01:41:17PM 3 points [-]

Generally light fantasy. Magic, magical creatures, adventures and an epic battle here and there. Recently I've been focussing on series with badass female protagonists with the usual magical powers and monster fighting tendencies.

I cannot claim sophistication is as much as I'm not enthralled by books that centre on intricately detailed political intrigues.

Comment author: CronoDAS 18 October 2010 10:16:24AM 5 points [-]

Another set of books you might want to look into: The "Young Wizards" series by Diane Duane. It's technically "young adult" fiction; I read a compilation of the first three books a long time ago and enjoyed it. I don't know how strongly to recommend them because I read them years ago, but it might be something you'd like.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 October 2010 06:46:57PM *  4 points [-]

Young adult fiction. That stuff is relaxing. I'll take a look.You can't go wrong with wizards. (Even if Nicholas Cage gave it a damn good shot recently. Or at least his co-star did.)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2010 07:03:03PM 4 points [-]

Duane is especially good about the universe being full of interesting things and the pleasures of being intelligent.

I'd say that the series started losing narrative drive long about book four or so-- too many subplots, perhaps. However the first few are excellent.

And you might want to try out her Door into Fire series, too. (Adult fiction, more magic.)

Comment author: erratio 18 October 2010 08:00:38PM 2 points [-]

She also has a couple of books set in the same universe as the Young Wizards with cat wizard protagonists. It's got more technical gobbledygook but it's the same fluffy goodness underneath. Oh and the focus s less on redeeming the universe over and over again and more about business as usual, assuming that business involves dinosaurs and travel to alternate timelines and stuff :)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 October 2010 01:52:09PM 3 points [-]

I find complex political intrigue hard to follow myself. I don't know whether liking it is a measure of sophistication.

You might like T A Pratt's Marla Mason novels. They're a mix of humor and horror, and intelligent. The battles are quite dramatic.

I've liked the most recent two Pratchett novels Unseen Academicals and I Shall Wear Midnight.

What's frustrating is that I recently read some urban fantasy/paranormal romance which had a small unit battle rather than individual combat, but I can't remember what it was. It might have been Skinwalker by Faith Hunter, but even if not, it's a pretty good book.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 October 2010 08:35:50AM 1 point [-]

I've liked the most recent two Pratchett novels Unseen Academicals and I Shall Wear Midnight.

Unseen Academicals was great, I haven't read I Shall Wear Midnight yet. I've been half hearted about the Tiffany Aching since I lost my respect for the Feegles. The Kender got insecure and forbade the Feegles from protecting or assisting their most important Ally (Tiffany) and the Feegles obeyed. They went from being hilarious tough little faerie guys to a bunch of cowards enthralled by a corrupt power structure. There are a few things more dangerous than an insecure person with power and deference to such people out of respect rather than practical necessity is something I hold in contempt.

Of course, I will no doubt love Midnight when I read it. I'm also hoping Practchett gets around to a third Von Lipvig book. Vetinari was hinting about taxes.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2010 11:50:02AM 2 points [-]

From my point of view, it was a huge improvement to not have the Fleegles talking as much as in the previous books. I was getting really bored with their being stupid at each other. They're still strong, still chaotic and enthusiastic, and really good as a foil to Tiffany's seriousness.

I wasn't tracking the angle that's bothering you, but the witches did seem bizarrely helpless for a good bit of the book against a rising tide of anti-witch prejudice.

One thing both books had in common was that there was serious prejudice against characters who were committed to harmlessness and extraordinarily useful. It's a way of saying that prejudice is bad, but I think there's a falseness to it.

Most people are somewhat useful and relatively harmless [1], but I wonder what would happen if people said, "Everyone's a public hazard-- me, you, any people you've got prejudices against. We need to figure out how to live decently (find as many positive sum transactions as possible) together anyway."

[1] I believe that if the majority of people weren't doing more good than harm, the human race would have been taken down by entropy.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2010 01:12:12AM *  1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure that the book with the small unit battle was Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts, which is a pretty good book in general.

Comment author: CronoDAS 17 October 2010 10:42:47PM *  2 points [-]

May I recommend Jacqueline Carey? I don't know if her writing is quite what you'd like, but it's some amazing stuff. (Eliezer is a fan too!)

And, of course, if you've never read any Terry Pratchett, you need to fix that.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 October 2010 07:53:55AM 1 point [-]

I've wondered about Jacqueline Carey. The Kushiel books seem, well, hard. I'm not sure how much I could empathise with a character whose defining feature is that she takes sexual pleasure in pain, even to the extreme. Yet they do seem to come with some strong recommendations. Eliezer, no less! I expect I'll have to read her eventually just to see what the fuss is about.

And, of course, if you've never read any Terry Pratchett, you need to fix that.

Haha. That would be tantamount to sacrilege! Probably my favourite author. Although in a sense his books seem to fall into a qualitatively different category. They are just different enough in nature that they don't occur to me when I'm considering fantasy stories except as an afterthought.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 October 2010 12:26:43PM 2 points [-]

I gave up on the Kushiel books because the world-building had defects that got on my nerves, in one case unfairly. IIRC, they do have a lot of political intrigue.

The world-building issues were that Kushiel is a very rare and valuable sort of person, and this is marked by something (a red dart?) in one of her eyes. I find it impossible to believe that everyone would have forgotten about the type of person and the marker, though perhaps I'm applying unduly modern standards.

The thing which was definitely unfair was being annoyed that Kushiel doesn't make sense as a masochist. Masochists have very definite preferences for the sort of pain they want, and Kushiel doesn't. I've since been told that she's a sub, not a masochist.

Comment author: pjeby 18 October 2010 03:57:16PM 4 points [-]

The world-building issues were that Kushiel is a very rare and valuable sort of person, and this is marked by something (a red dart?) in one of her eyes. I find it impossible to believe that everyone would have forgotten about the type of person and the marker, though perhaps I'm applying unduly modern standards.

I don't get what you mean: there was actually a poem handed down through the ages to describe the mark. I only remember the last line, "pricks the eye of chosen mortals"; the other lines were about Kushiel and something about rod and weal and portals. Anyway, it wasn't forgotten, it just wasn't widely known.

The thing which was definitely unfair was being annoyed that Kushiel doesn't make sense as a masochist. Masochists have very definite preferences for the sort of pain they want, and Kushiel doesn't.

Kushiel was the Terre D'ange god of redemption through punishment; if you're talking about the main character of the Kushiel's Dart series, that would be Phèdre.

The point of the dart-mark in her eye was that she was blessed by Kushiel with essentially the ability to turn any pain into pleasure. She's not a normal human masochist, like the adepts of Valerian House, but rather an anguisette -- something that doesn't exist in real humans, so far as we know.

(For the most part, however, the character is written as a realistic human with strong masochistic and submissive desires, and only a few pivotal scenes in the novels actually require her to have pain-transforming abilities beyond those that a human could achieve with sufficient warmup. In truth, her gift seems to be the ability to instantly transform pain levels that human masochists have to "warm up" for with lesser quantities of the same type of pain.)

Anyway, the Kushiel's Legacy series is set in a parallel world to ours where gods and magic exist, so it doesn't seem especially egregious to have a character here or there with a supernatural talent, especially the main character.

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 October 2010 05:43:08AM 1 point [-]

Actually, there's another set of books that I should have remembered some time ago: Mickey Zucker Reichert's Renshai series.

Comment author: erratio 19 October 2010 07:45:27AM 1 point [-]

Agreed, I would also recommend her Nightfall books. Just for the love of Bayes don't look at any of the other ones, especially the new ones unless you like characters bursting into tears every five pages.

Comment author: Pavitra 07 October 2010 12:33:56AM 3 points [-]

Chapter 47.

Regarding the cliffhanger (you're quite good at those, I've noticed): Oh yikes.

Comment author: Alicorn 07 October 2010 01:24:14AM 2 points [-]

It's ironic that I'm good at cliffhangers. I hate them in stuff I read.

Comment author: RobinZ 06 October 2010 02:29:25PM *  3 points [-]

Epileptic Trees*: I wonder if at some point (or already!) a vampire threesome will appear.

* "Epileptic Trees" is a TVTropism for "implausible plot speculation", like asserting that the waving trees in the early episodes of Lost were, well...

Comment author: knb 29 September 2010 04:32:20AM 3 points [-]

I hope you guys don't mind if I ask this here, but I've asked several people who have read Twilight and nobody has been able to explain this to me.

The word "werewolf" itself is an Old English word meaning "man-wolf". Yet as far as I can tell, all werewolves mentioned in the story are American Indians. So are there European werewolves that are just unmentioned (perhaps they were exterminated by humans/vampires?) Or are we to believe that the existence of the myth of werewolves in Europe came about independently, and coincidentally there just happened to be people who can actually turn into wolves on the other side of the planet? Perhaps there was some kind of pre-Columbian contact between the shape-shifting tribes and ancient Anglo-Saxons? Is any of this explained in-canon? Have fans come up with other explanations?

Comment author: Alicorn 29 September 2010 04:38:25AM *  8 points [-]

There are two species of werewolf in Twilight canon. One, the Children of the Moon, gets no screentime or detailed treatment at all. They were from Europe and are now presumed extinct, killed off by some vampires at the behest of one vampire who didn't like them.

The other, the Quileute tribe wolves, features more heavily. Their older legends don't use the word "werewolf"; the ones who show up in the story call themselves werewolves because that is the obvious modern American thing to call a person who can turn into a giant wolf. The "wolf" part in particular was an arbitrary selection made when the species came into existence; they could have been bears or eagles or voles or something instead. So the technical term for them is "shapeshifter", but this doesn't overcome the sheer obviousness of "werewolf". This is all canon or obvious extrapolation therefrom, not fanon.

Comment author: knb 29 September 2010 04:50:10AM 2 points [-]

Thanks for answering. I also looked up the definition of "werewolf" on a Twilight wiki, but I didn't see any explanation.

I was really hoping the canon explanation was pre-Columbian contact between Vikings and native werewolves in North America. The prequel series writes itself!

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 September 2010 04:49:48AM *  4 points [-]

Stephenie Meyer by her own description knew absolutely nothing about vampires when she started writing and did zero research. I doubt that she had any idea where werewolf legends came from. That said, there are some Native American stories that are very similar to werewolves. The idea of a "skinwalker" shows up in some cultures, and the Navajo especially have a developed set of myths that has some resemblance. So if one felt a need to retcon this one would explain it with the natives simply using "werewolf" as the common English term for what they were.

(One could imagine fanfic where some of the werewolves are unhappy with this term and see using it as buying into European cultural imperialism or something like that.)

Comment author: Alicorn 29 September 2010 05:15:12AM 6 points [-]

There are werecritters all over the place. I did a paper on "fantasy convergent evolution" in college and I was finding references to werecrocodiles and werebears and weresharks and random stuff, from all kinds of cultures that had no crosspollination.

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 10:05:53AM 3 points [-]

Ilario didn't scream. In fact, he didn't do anything. He held perfectly still, though I could hear his heart beating steadily. Had the morphine eliminated the pain as effectively as my coma had? If so, and if it lasted longer than thirty hours, it should be the new gold standard for humane turning in the future - I'd have to ask him about it later.

The first thing I thought when Ilario wasn't showing too many signs of pain was that he was just used to being closer to the threshold of pure agony than Bella was. He's been slowly dying of cancer for years and endured cancer treatments. Those aren't pleasant. The increase in pain may not seem all that bad, especially when it is accompanied with the knowledge that now the pain is actually going to end!

Comment author: wedrifid 06 September 2010 12:28:23PM 4 points [-]

Wait a minute. Gold standard for humane turning? That's got to be "Use Alec".

Comment author: Alicorn 06 September 2010 01:16:08PM *  5 points [-]

Well, yes, but it's not like you can hire Alec to come out for a long weekend and do a turning gig, he's a Volturi. In practice, he's the gold standard for humane executions.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 01:12:29PM 3 points [-]

When the Luminosity vampires carry someone, in particular when they accelerate to a high speed, do they accelerate their passenger using conventional force or is the acceleration magic applied directly to the load? If unspecified I usually assume that superhumans can accelerate objects via implicit magic. That eliminates all sorts of potential irritations reading most such stories.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 01:20:08PM 2 points [-]

I don't really understand your question. I'm not invoking "acceleration magic"; vampires just move very fast.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 02:24:54PM *  4 points [-]

I don't really understand your question.

I usually try to give myself a legitimate reason to suspend disbelief. Things working differently in the counter-factual world are not distracting, they are just accepted as premises. In some stories things are explicitly not presented as premises of the world still seem to happen.

  • Should I expect to hear sonic booms whenever vampires wreak havoc upon the speed of sound?
  • If I looked at Edward's shoes would I see them either constructed of specially designed material or to be significantly damaged every time he takes off at huge mutiples of g?
  • If I examined the tree that Alice showed off with would I see hand prints and general damage where she was picking it up and throwing it about? For that matter, should I have expected to see it break when subjected to those forces over such a small area?
  • When Edward runs across a wet field should I see mud and grass flying up at the points at which he starts and stops? When he stops does he need to turn around and start running the other way in an attempt to lose momentum?

I'm not invoking "acceleration magic"; vampires just move very fast.

I like 'vampires just move very fast'. In terms of what the 'just' entails it seems that, for example, "just have the ability to output large amounts of power from the muscles and thereby cause acceleration through the application of force upon items in the environment" would be a rather ungainly. A somewhat more nebulous 'just' fits better for this kind of story.

This was prompted by thinking of the optimal way to protect a human passenger in the event of an automotive accident. If I was a lightweight version of Cameron - super strong and super fast but otherwise operating under completely standard physics - then I wouldn't choose Edward's passenger protection strategy. There are all sorts of other options which would require lower concentrations of force on the human's body over time and space. But with the kind of strength and speed exhibited by the vampires in either Twilight or True Blood the approach seems to fit perfectly. They are 'just' really fast, for a specific kind of 'just'.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 02:45:21PM 6 points [-]

Vampires do not exceed the speed of sound. They are not even as fast as ordinary airplanes or really fast cars, or they'd have no reason to use either barring subterfuge purposes and a fondness for vehicles. So no, no sonic boom. But over short distances, even going 100 mph would mean crossing a football field in a third of a second, if my back-of-envelope bad-at-math calculation is right. Bit quick for a human to follow. (They don't take any appreciable time to start up and slow down when they aren't trying to.)

Vampires that don't care much about looking human often go barefoot; this is mentioned with James's coven. Cullens do wear shoes. However, they not only move very quickly and strongly: they move precisely. Bella's shown jumping out a high window in book 4 of canon in high heels and finding it as easy as taking a step on a normal floor. (Easier, probably, because human!Bella can find excuses to trip on ordinary floors and no vampire would ever trip on anything.) I imagine they can wear out shoes like nobody's business, but if they care about them (which they may or may not, depending on how annoying it is to get new ones, since money is no object) they can probably arrange to plant their feet in shoe-preserving ways.

I specified that the tree wasn't rotted when Alice picked it out. Wood can take a fair amount of knocking about. She could leave prints in it if she didn't take care in her handling, but that would have interrupted her show. Note also that this is Alice in particular, who, if she cared about not breaking the tree, could see where it would be best to grab and catch it.

In canon, vampires are not described as leaving remarkable footprints or kicking up soil even when they're running all-out playing baseball. This does seem odd. I don't have a good explanation for it unless they're doing something like the way Jesus lizards walk on water. I'm not planning to explore it in the story, though.

Comment author: Clippy 30 August 2010 06:53:55PM 12 points [-]

Do you regard math as difficult? If so, one trick I've learned is to restate any math problem you see as one about paperclips instead, but make sure you know the mapping to the original problem. This will make it a lot easier to find the answer!

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 01:29:26PM *  3 points [-]

I've just started the Luminosity series. Reading a whole 30 chapters online was slightly daunting so I'm experimenting with listening to it in audio format so I can listen to it at the gym, etc. I found a suitable high quality voice that sounds like a young female. The 'Daniel' voice I had just sounded too bizarre reading a female first person narrative.

Once I'm finished with Luminosity I may try listening to some of Eliezer's sequences - the non illustrated ones obviously!

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 01:33:08PM 4 points [-]

Some of the notebook portions may not come through properly in audio - I'm thinking particularly of a bit with strikethroughs in chapter 3, which the ff.net version doesn't even have because they don't allow strikethrough and I had to rewrite the section. So any bits that don't sound like complete sentences are likely due to that.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:32:14AM *  2 points [-]

which the ff.net version doesn't even have because they don't allow strikethrough and I had to rewrite the section

Ahh, that explains why I had no problems with chapter three then. I built my playlist by using a FanFiction.net scraper that presented the entire story thus far in a text file, split it into numbered files using the "##" chapter delimiter and then bulk converted the 30 text files into mp3s.

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 August 2010 05:37:48AM 3 points [-]

The problem with vampires drinking human blood isn't the "drinking human blood" part, it's the "killing people to get the blood" part. The obvious solution seems to be to drink donated blood from blood banks and such. Are there any reasons why this wouldn't work? Is preserved blood no longer edible? Would it drain the local blood bank faster than people normally donate? Is the scent of humans still tempting even after consuming a large amount of blood?

Comment author: Alicorn 28 August 2010 02:05:15PM 5 points [-]

Donated blood is edible, and even at room temperature and full of whatever it is the Red Cross puts in it, it's tastier to vampires than animal blood. Doctors, such as Carlisle, are legally able to purchase blood, and in fact he is shown to do so in canon; no concern about depleting the blood supply is mentioned, although it would be surprising if there were none.

However, consuming human blood instead of animal blood makes vampires less able to resist the impulse to eat live humans, who are yet still more appealing than donated blood, even when the vampire attempting to resist is not particularly thirsty. The thirst is constant, and while it is reduced in force and intrusiveness by having recently eaten, the factor preventing the Cullens from slaughtering everyone in town is willpower, not disinterest. Edward is shown in "Midnight Sun" to be able to eat half a herd of elk and come to school the next day and find that Bella's scent is "like a wrecking ball", no less demanding than it was the first time.

As a much more minor side point, drinking human blood makes vampire eyes red, which would be more conspicuous than gold, black, or any of the range of colors in between. Contact lenses are possible, but are dissolved over the course of a few hours by the venom in their eyes.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 05:53:13AM 2 points [-]

I can't find the reference at the moment, but I think they said that drinking human blood impairs the mind somehow, increasing the desire to feed on humans and making the vampire more animalistic.

Comment author: lsparrish 26 August 2010 12:20:42AM 3 points [-]

Good internal conflict between her wanting to die during the change in 27, and not wanting to be dead afterward. Reminds me of some interesting ethical questions about assisted suicide and cryonics... Just because someone in pain is asking to die, does that really mean they want to be dead? Should we respect their wishes?

Comment author: Giriath 27 October 2010 06:37:38AM *  2 points [-]

Chapter 56.

Things certainly aren't looking good for the Cullen's. I imagine Aro must be absolutely giddy, considering how well his attack went. The fact remains though that neither Bella or Jasper actually saw Edward and Alice die. I'm quite sure Edward still lives, since Bella didn't find any of his jewellery. I'm not too sure about Alice though. It would make sense for Jasper to be able to distinguish Alice's emotions from that of others, and a burning death is probably quite hard to fake. Alice's gift would also be hindered by all the wolves and halflings the Volturi are now surrounding themselves with, and therefore not be as useful.

I wonder how Bella can survive Jasper - maybe he'll be careless and she can put out the flames again. But at the rate things are getting more depressing, maybe she really will die and the sequel will be narrated by Elspeth, like I thought for a moment last chapter. My biggest question this chapter is: why would the Volturi leave Jasper alive after they had supposedly killed Alice? Why didn't he just chase them until they killed him?

Comment author: Alicorn 27 October 2010 12:47:06PM 1 point [-]

The sequel will in fact be narrated by Elspeth.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 October 2010 12:22:47AM 1 point [-]

Huh. Guessed that.

Comment author: Alicorn 28 October 2010 12:44:37AM *  10 points [-]

If you know who Elspeth is, you've read at least 15,000 words of the fic (or skipped a whole lot); where's my review? ;)

Comment author: linkhyrule5 29 July 2013 04:13:44AM 1 point [-]

As a calibration exercise - do you remember why/how you guessed that?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 July 2013 04:52:24AM 2 points [-]

...no clue at this distance. It's possible that I went on the heuristic that Bella was now too powerful or had too many of her conflicts resolved, and that transferring the viewpoint to a younger and less powerful character seemed highly likely.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 13 September 2010 08:10:33AM 2 points [-]

There's a typo in this chapter: "Leah Clearwater, who had the sort of eyelashes that other women medicated themselves to get, was skeptical. But she followed Leah into the forest readily enough, shook my hand with only the barest hesitation..." Unless I'm misparsing it somehow.

Comment author: Alicorn 13 September 2010 02:20:30PM 1 point [-]

Fixed.

Comment author: wedrifid 13 September 2010 07:46:58AM 2 points [-]

"Oh, lord, Jacob," moaned Rachel. "He's got the gene if I do, doesn't he?

Not necessarily. Especially if, say, the relevant gene turns out to be X-linked and dominant. Surprisingly, if that was the case then finding out that their dad was also a wolf would actually lower the probability they should assign to finding that Jacob was a wolf!

Comment author: mjr 06 September 2010 09:23:30PM 2 points [-]

Slightly forced discovery on Edwards part, but understandable that one wants to introduce the hybrid stuff somehow, and there's little room for a happy accidental discovery in this storyline. "Hey, let's test it for the heck of it" maybe, but that'd also be going against a rather strong base assumption that's hard to plausibly question, since the whole thing, well, is rather implausible anyway. ;)

Good to have some more, anyway, and nice going with the compartmentalization and getting into touch with Billy. Swell way to put "I'd very much like you guys to eat them for breakfast" at the end. Looking forward to the "friendship" blooming.

Comment author: RobinZ 04 September 2010 02:15:18PM 2 points [-]

This just occurred to me: is Bella breaking her spine a reference to the original?

Comment author: Alicorn 04 September 2010 02:23:05PM 6 points [-]

In canon, Bella starts turning with a broken spine, although not at the neck - about halfway down. It heals itself partway through. I got the idea from there.

Comment author: simplicio 08 September 2010 11:15:55PM *  1 point [-]

Hey, I just wanted to say I'm on Ch. 10 and really like the fic so far.

Also, I wish to clarify that I am Definitely Not A Vampire. Look, I even eat garlic ice-cream!

(Pay no heed to kodos96's vile slander.)

Comment author: tenshiko 25 October 2010 01:25:44AM *  1 point [-]

...I have to say that the only thing that can make me feel less shell-shocked by the latest chapter (55) is imagining this exchange (rot13ed for the spirit of the thing, and because this is a joke instead of insight and therefore not worth accidentally reading):

Rzzrgg: Bu zl tbq, gurl xvyyrq Rqjneq!
Wnfcre: Lbh onfgneqf!

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 01:27:00AM 3 points [-]

MwhahahahahAHAHAHAHAHAHA :D

Comment author: tenshiko 25 October 2010 01:28:15AM 1 point [-]

Although I cling to the hope that Bella has been misled, the way you phrased your author's note makes me highly doubt it. D: