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Luminosity (Twilight fanfic) Part 2 Discussion Thread

6 Post author: JenniferRM 25 October 2010 11:07PM

This is Part 2 of the discussion of Alicorn's Twilight fanfic Luminosity

LATE BREAKING EDIT: Part 3 exists now, so new comment threads should be started there rather than here.

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.

Here is Part 1 of the discussion.  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.

The fic is really really good but there is a twist part way through that makes the fic even more worth reading than it already was, but that makes it hard to talk about because to even ask if someone is twist-aware with any specific hints is difficult.  The twist is in the latter half of the story.  If you are certainly not post-twist and want to save the surprise, then you should stop reading here and fall back to Part 1 discussion or to the fic itself.

 

If you think you're pretty sure you are post-twist and are safe to read the rest of this, try reading this rot13'ed hint and see if what you've read matches this high level description of the twist...

Rqjneq unf qvfpbirerq gur frperg gung Vfnoryyn jnf xrrcvat sebz uvz "sbe uvf bja tbbq" bhg bs srne bs Neb ernqvat Rqjneq'f zvaq.  Va gur nsgrezngu, fbzrguvat unf punatrq nobhg gurve eryngvbafuvc gung znl unir pnhfrq lbh gb pel sbe n juvyr, naq juvpu znlor urycf gb rzbgvbanyyl qevir ubzr gur pbzovarq zrffntr bs YJ'f negvpyrf nobhg "fbzrguvat gb cebgrpg" naq "ernfba nf n zrzrgvp vzzhar qvfbeqre" naq gur jnl gurl pna fvzhygnarbhfyl nccyl gb crbcyr jub unir abguvat zber va gur jbeyq guna fbzr fvatyr crefba jub gurl ybir.

If the answer to the hint is obvious, then just to be sure that there is not a double illusion of transparency at work, here is the cutoff point spelled out explicitly:

Gur phgbss cbvag sbe cbfgvat urer vf gung lbh unir ernq hc gb puncgre svsgl svir (va gur snasvpgvba irefvba) be puncgre gjragl rvtug ba Nyvpbea'f jrofvgr jurer Rqjneq jnf cebonoyl vapvarengrq, Vfnoryyn fheivirf na nggrzcgrq vapvarengvba, naq fur unf gb ortha gb jbex bhg jung gb qb jvgu gur jerpxntr bs gur erfg bs ure "rgreany" yvsr.

And now for your regularly scheduled commenting...

Comments (420)

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 11:46:05PM 12 points [-]

I want to register amusement that "Methods of Rationality" contains a Bella and "Luminosity" contains a Harry.

Comment author: JenniferRM 25 October 2010 11:28:58PM 11 points [-]

I just wanted to say that Chapter 55 made me go from "the luminosity fic is good" to "omg I need to get people to read the luminosity fic!".

One rule for emotionally compelling stories is "make a character you love and then torture them" and Alicorn has done that very very well. At this point I don't know if the story can have any kind of happy ending, but the story has transitioned from one where the default happy ending can pretty much be assumed (because most stories have so much wish fulfillment), to one of the rare stories where implacable reality is described by the author in the way you would expect an implacable reality to work.

And I love the way it is the "rationalist character" who, in retrospect, was sort of "blithely rational" who got hurt. This is a lesson that is meaningful for me, helping me to emotionally internalize the real risks of experimenting with one's life, rather than a lesson that I can imagine is meaningful for normal Harry Potter fanfic readers. When the pack was expanding and things were clearly getting out of control I had a bad feeling and wanted to warn Bella, but I didn't really expect negative outcomes.

Thank you, Alicorn, for writing this.

Comment author: grautry 30 October 2010 10:33:16AM 9 points [-]

Well, with the story over, I've just got to say - I'm massively impressed.

It actually encouraged me to read your sequence(far more than MoR) simply because of how insanely productive you were. Eliezer has an exceptional update schedule, but you're like a machine. Post-singularity.

What surprised me the most was, perhaps, that the story forced me to take sparkly vampires seriously. Previously, I had an instinctive /facepalm reaction to them, whereas now I've got to admit, that a more skilled writer than Meyer can certainly make it work.

All in all, there's only two things left to say: Thumbs Up and I Need My Luminosity Fix Plx!!!111oneoenoe

Comment author: Alicorn 30 October 2010 02:14:14PM 5 points [-]

Your enthusiasm is heartening. The sequel, Radiance, will start updating Nov. 8, and I plan to stick to the MWF updates with 4k+ words/chapter.

Comment author: Benquo 31 October 2010 04:04:20AM 1 point [-]

Seconded.

Comment author: [deleted] 12 November 2010 04:33:09PM 5 points [-]

I'm starting the sequel, and mostly wanted to say thank-you to Alicorn for writing this: I think Radiance has the potential to be even more interesting than Luminosity, mostly because it's almost entirely original. Also, Elspeth is really very likable, which is very important for this story to "work."

I would echo the comments of the reader who wrote earlier that the story seems to lack much in the way of sensory description. Since we're seeing through Elspeth's eyes, I wish we got a lot more of how things look, feel, taste, sound to her. For instance, I was wondering through the end of Chapter 2 and most of Chapter 3 whether Elspeth was attracted to Cody. Up until she kissed him, I had no idea--and for a character whose superpower is "making herself clear," that's being pretty opaque. It's mostly because the only physical description we got of him was that he's Native American and wearing a ponytail. Nothing about whether his features were blunt or keen, his eyes lively or soft or guarded, his build broad or skinny, his hands strong or delicate -- none of the things, in summary, that girls tend to notice about boys when they're interested.

Just as another example, I don't have a picture in my mind of the werewolf camp AT ALL. We're told there are "tents" but are we talking about individual-type camping tents, or big military tents, or what? How are they handling trash--is there a big midden heap nearby? Are they burying their waste? What about recreation & social space--do they have sporting or sparring areas? Are the tents organized around a central campfire or other social space? If this is a semi-permanent enclave, knowing how the wolves are organizing the basic requirements of communal living can tell us a lot about them and their organization, and this is the kind of info that we can get a lot of just by really seeing through Elspeth's eyes as she glances around.

Again, though, the story is really enjoyable so far. The sensory descriptions would just help it be more immersive (and I think they'd be appropriate given the nature of Elspeth's powers).

Comment author: [deleted] 15 November 2010 06:58:45PM 2 points [-]

Just wanted to note that Chapter 4 gave me more of the description I'd been missing--I have a better image of Cody now. I also really liked Cody's run-down of the pack dynamics because I'd been thinking that social tensions could get completely insane in a situation like the one Jacob's pack is in. Elspeth's concerns about kidnapping seemed perfectly reasonable to me too.

It also seemed "realistic" given the situation and the character that Elspeth couldn't keep her mom's secret, though I'm sure Bella wouldn't be pleased to know it.

Comment author: Perplexed 26 October 2010 06:06:19AM *  5 points [-]

I loved the first half of this story. But since Bella became a vampire, I found myself liking it less and less. But it was only with Chapter 55 that I realized why.

Bella went FOOM.

I hate it when that happens.

Maybe Elspeth will take it slower. Something more friendly, a bit more in line with the Collective Expectations of Vampiredom.

Looking forward to the sequel.

Comment author: thomblake 26 October 2010 02:04:53PM *  4 points [-]

Collective Expectations of Vampiredom

Ha!

(what? that's just how I laugh)

Comment author: Benquo 26 October 2010 05:52:14PM 1 point [-]

I had the same reaction - and I love the crazy spiraling-out-of-control in HPMoR, but it just doesn't feel right in this story. Luminous Bella does need flaws for the story to work, but really shouldn't have the same blind spots as Rationalist Harry.

All the same, even though the second half is somewhat less engaging for me, I'm still loving the story, and it's helped me make more sense of the LW Luminosity sequence.

Comment author: Alicorn 11 December 2010 03:48:18AM *  4 points [-]

If anybody wants to contribute to my story a memory snippet (like the ones that appear in chapter 15 of Radiance), you are hereby invited to do so. Terms:

  • At this point, the memory snippet could be from a vampire or a human, a witch or a non-witch, but no half-vampires and no wolves, and no appropriating characters who have names already either in canon or Luminosity.

  • 1-3 paragraphs, maybe stretch this if you include one-line paragraphs. Should be something at least as interesting and flavorful as the snippets in ch. 15 (this could be staring at the wall, as long as the thoughts are nifty in some way), but I'd like to minimize the re-use of ideas (so no more botanists or chessplayers or dancers, at least not if that's what the memory is about).

  • You don't have to match voice - you're not writing Elspeth, after all - but do match the story's tone; I don't want massive mood dissonance.

  • I reserve the right to edit your submission to smithereens. Or steal the idea but write my own snippet with it. Or not use it at all.

  • If I use your snippet (even if only for inspiration), you will be credited under the name of your choice, with an (optional) accompanying link of your choice, if I decide to use your snippet. This credit will be permanent, but plaintext (no clickable link) on the ff.net version of the story, with the URL spelled out. On my site, your input will be noted in the story text with a clickable link when the update first goes live, but I will remove it later so as not to interrupt archive-bingers; a collection of all the credits will exist persistently and will be linked to from the About page.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 December 2010 03:02:41AM 4 points [-]

Chapter 13 is so, so, SO creepy. I feel like I need a shower now.

Comment author: Alicorn 06 December 2010 03:21:36AM 13 points [-]

I'm very pleased with myself for being able to so thoroughly creep out so many people by: describing how Elspeth, surrounded by her many perfectly innocent friends, spent her day chatting and reading and buying clothes and attending an eight-year-old's birthday party.

Comment author: alethiophile 06 December 2010 04:47:27AM 4 points [-]

I wondered, at first, why Elspeth wasn't testing out her previous relationships by purposefully thinking of her mother or other people and noting her immediate reaction (which seems like the sort of thing she would do, in her right mind). Then I realized under mind control she would no longer think of any of those people as notable enough to wonder about her reaction to. Which is the really, really creepy part.

Comment author: Giriath 06 December 2010 10:33:29AM *  3 points [-]

Then I realized under mind control she would no longer think of any of those people as notable enough to wonder about her reaction to. Which is the really, really creepy part.

Yes it is, which is likely why Chelsea is at the mandatory assembly every single day. That way none of them will have time to feel any inclination to investigate their past life. Instead they'll be all too busy living their little village life and thinking they're the good cops when they go out on missions. I imagine they're filled a lot of bullshit about the people they hunt and the Volturi's reasons before and during missions, so it makes any potential windows of re-evaluation created by killing and kidnapping people on demand, be as minor as possible so Chelsea has time to do maintenance before they rebel.

Hopefully Elspeth's witchcraft make her the exception to this routine, which we had small evidence of in this chapter. Thinking of herself as free sounded false to Elspeth, because of it. When she has run out of trivial things to blame for the reaction, she'll probably use it to figure out why it makes such a statement feel false. I think this means that my previous hypothesis that she can use it not just to remember her love for Bella (who she thought of really hard in attempt to not forget when being Chelsea'd), but to re-evaluate everything she thought and did in her life, because her witchcraft will tell her what is true, and she won't doubt that.

This means that when she finds a window of opportunity to do this without alerting Chelsea, she could command Jacob to round up his pack and everyone else they can get their hands onto, and get the hell out of Dodge. I'm also quite sure she could tell the villagers what is true about them, the Volturi and the world and her experiences of it, to make it much easier and faster for them to fight against the values created in their minds by Chelsea. That may take more time than it would for Chelsea to sound the alarm though, and if that happened she wouldn't get another chance.

Comment author: Vaniver 06 December 2010 04:11:45AM *  1 point [-]

I don't know if it's because I've internalized the sunk costs fallacy or what, but I find mind control to be way less creepy after it's happened.

Comment author: Alicorn 06 December 2010 04:21:51AM 2 points [-]

It's ongoing. That's why Chelsea is always at the mandatory assemblies.

Comment author: CronoDAS 27 October 2010 09:12:49AM 4 points [-]

The end of the latest chapter manages to be even bleaker than the one before it.

I'm officially scared now.

Comment author: Aharon 27 October 2010 11:31:56AM 4 points [-]

I agree. I didn't expect that it would get that deprressing when Alicorn wrote we might not read the sequel because of our deep hatred for her.

It's even more tormenting that she leaves hints that usually in fiction would mean that Edward isn't dead (not directly mentioning the name during the burning scene and the missing ring).

I don't think that will happen in this story.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 25 October 2010 11:26:18PM 4 points [-]

Created wiki page.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 December 2010 07:05:13PM 3 points [-]

So if I've understood correctly, a large chunk of Volturi just received an involuntary crash course in the Elspeth Method of resisting social manipulation through radical honesty, along with whatever the information was that Aro wanted not to be shared.

Meanwhile, the Volturi just turned a werewolf pack leader into an enemy.

And Aro is out of town.

This has the potential to get messy.

Comment author: Alicorn 20 December 2010 07:21:47PM 2 points [-]

a large chunk of Volturi just received an involuntary crash course in the Elspeth Method of resisting social manipulation through radical honesty, along with whatever the information was that Aro wanted not to be shared.

Also several million years' worth of red herrings, mind.

Comment author: JGWeissman 23 December 2010 12:03:36AM 1 point [-]

Also several million years' worth of red herrings

If they are curious about what Addy was thinking immediately before she escaped, they can locate those memories and learn that there is a secret, which Addy has consciously noticed in the time since she first absorbed Aro's power, which narrows down the search a lot.

Comment author: DSimon 14 December 2010 02:30:34PM 3 points [-]

Can Chelsea affect imaginary relationships? What I'm getting at is: could she snip the trust that Elspeth has for her internal personification of her magic?

Comment author: Alicorn 14 December 2010 03:07:15PM 4 points [-]

Can Chelsea affect imaginary relationships?

In a sense. If, for example, you believed a chatbot to be a real person and felt a deep friendship for that chatbot, Chelsea could make said friendship evaporate; she works on one person at a time and doesn't need both targets there (which is why she can also work on relationships where only one party is alive).

What I'm getting at is: could she snip the trust that Elspeth has for her internal personification of her magic?

No, this wouldn't work. First, Magic isn't a different person from Elspeth; Magic is a subagent. It would be ridiculously overpowered - even compared to Chelsea's existing powers - if relationships between subagents were vulnerable. That would make it possible for Chelsea to drive people insane by looking at them and wiggling her fingers. Second, Magic isn't just trusted because Elspeth considers her a friend or something. Magic is trusted because that's part of the magic, that when she says true things they are believed.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 15 December 2010 04:59:42AM 2 points [-]

Mm. I think you may be overgeneralizing here.

Sure, having Chelsea be able to edit the relationships among subagents is essentially the ability to perform psychic surgery -- not just drive people insane (which is not an incredibly useful ability, all things considered, though it's handy from time to time), but more generally to edit their personalities.

Agreed that that would be overpowered, and that there's no reason to expect it to be true.

But Elspeth is a bit of a special case right now. That is, she not only has the usual relationship-among-subagents linkage with Magic, which is immune to tampering, but by virtue of visualizing Magic as a separate body with an autonomous personality she is also forming a social relationships with it analogous to the social attachments we form to other primates, in much the same way that it's easier to develop emotional bonds with someone on the Internet (or with a chatbot) if you interact with them in a VR simulation.

I would expect Chelsea to be able to edit away that aspect of their social interaction... that is, to revert Elspeth's state with respect to Magic to what it was when they were first introduced, with whatever sense of social bonding has evolved since then snipped away.

Of course, as you say, Elspeth would still trust Magic, just like she did when they first met, because that's Magic's nature.

Unrelatedly: is your offer to email people spoilers still open? If so, I'd love to know whether my theory here is at all consistent with where you're going. I of course won't divulge anything, etc.

Comment author: Alicorn 08 November 2010 04:26:08PM 3 points [-]

There's a thread about Luminosity on TV Tropes, and one person had a bundle of questions that I answered there; crossposting here in case anyone's interested.

is it possible for a vampire to become fixated on a 'mate' whose orientation does not allow the attraction to be returned? Or does the mate bond override orientation?

Unspecified in canon; in Luminosity, no, everybody winds up mated to someone of approximately the correct "type" for non-magical attraction.

What about transgendered individuals who have made no modifications to the appearance they were born with — if the process takes orientation into account, then does it work on the basis of gender identity, gender presentation, anatomy, or SRY?

Again, unspecified in canon. My ruling: If you have a person A and a person B, and they are vampire mates (or one is a vampire mated to the other, a human), then A is attracted to B's whatever-mishmash-of-sex-and-gender-characteristics and vice-versa. Once the actual magical bond kicks in (i.e. once they meet), then even departures from this mold will not affect it. For instance, a vampire who is attracted to female personalities but not female bodies would have to meet a MTF transgendered mate before significant biological intervention took place, but if they met first and then interventions happened, this would not bother the vampire.

In Luminous-canon, only male werewolves can imprint on people, and (was it only Bella's hypothesis or confirmed?) this is for reasons of passing on the werewolf gene(s) — what does that mean for gay male werewolves? Werewolves born with male anatomy but who identify as (straight and) female?

I don't have a way to confirm the hypothesis in the story (exactly how would anyone verify what the imrprinting is for?), but yes, that is what it's Officially For. Imprinting can override native homosexuality (in fact, there is a character for whom this happened; I'll go into that a bit in Radiance). It would not "override" transgenderedness in any meaningful sense (wouldn't give the physically male, mentally girly wolf a different, masculine personality), but it could make her attracted to (a) woman if she weren't already. Werewolf super-healing and wonky body chemistry would make any attempts to physically transition intractable before quitting one's wolf. Quitting the wolf doesn't end the imprint, and neither would hormones/surgery/whatever; once it's there, it's there.

Or vice versa? What about infertile or asexual male werewolves? Does the imprinting go away if the werewolf becomes infertile afterwards?

Once the imprint is there, it's there. Imprinting can override native asexuality like it can override native homosexuality. A werewolf born infertile would not imprint; one that was sterilized later would keep an existing imprint if there was one but not make a new one if there wasn't.

Can a vampire feel a attraction to a mate who is in fact an inactive werewolf? If so, can that bond survive the werewolf's activation?

Unspecified in canon; I rule yes and yes, although it'd be a difficult sort of relationship.

And after a werewolf imprints on a person, can the imprinting survive that person's being turned into a vampire later on?

Yes, but it'll traumatize the wolf rather a lot.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 08 November 2010 05:11:59PM 1 point [-]

Or vice versa? What about infertile or asexual male werewolves?

Once the imprint is there, it's there. Imprinting can override native asexuality like it can override native homosexuality.

In case anyone's wondering, I find this entirely plausible. (I can't speak for any other asexuals, though.)

Comment author: Alicorn 08 November 2010 12:23:19AM 3 points [-]

The sequel to Luminosity has begun. Chapter one on my site; on ff.net.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 October 2010 05:52:11AM 3 points [-]

The recent chapters are dark. Love it.

That's one way to keep things balanced. Give Bella a new power (minor physical shield and flame retardation) but take away her lover and best friend (incidentally the two most powerful witches she has at her disposal). Oh, and while you're at it have the enemy recruit her greatest brute-force allies to their side. Maybe have her brother in law try to kill her. Perhaps a good way to set up a "rationalists don't always win!" moral. :)

I wonder if Bella may not be able to make use of Jasper. She should have a decent chance to defeat him in combat. She should be slightly stronger than him (residual newborn strength vs carnivore) while a whole heap more strategically competent. Apart from being somewhat more dominated by bloodlust he is also barely sane and his combat advantage from witchcraft is missing. Their current injuries are comparable (torn off arm vs 'left his hand back there somewhere').

Assuming she can tear him apart she could possibly send him against the Volturi. Talk to his disembodied head and remind him that he must hate the Volturi almost as much as he hates her and that killing all of them may be as pleasurable as killing just one of her. That and remind him that he'll never be able to find her anyway.

Leave his body in a great vat of fresh blood, with his neck attached remotely to his head via strained elastic. Have his head suspended above the vat ready to be released by a call from a mobile phone. Leave him in Italy. Leave a vest loaded up with a (literal) ton of explosives, napalm and an 'on release' trigger. And a map saying 'you are here' and 'them'.

I wouldn't risk it myself. There is a chance that he will just tell them Bella is alive. He seems stupid enough to do something that will mostly hurt the rest of his adoptive family and not Bella at all.

If I actually was in Bella's shoes I'd probably just kill Jasper. Stop pretending I'm a boy scout earning pocket money and start stealing cash. Like whole ATMs, that sort of thing. Then I'd move to Italy and start preparing to kill the Volturi. Rigging all the surrounding area with explosives, creating walls of fire. Firebombs of a suitable weight and with suitable payloads that I could lob them inside said ring of fire. That sort of thing. Witchcraft is overrated. :)

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 11:19:01PM *  3 points [-]

I'm going to re-number the chapters in edits, so I don't advise using current chapter numbers as reference points. There might not even be 25 chapters after I'm done.

Comment author: MineCanary 04 December 2010 07:27:19PM 6 points [-]

Hi, Alicorn, just wanted to say that the ideas from your fanfic and the related sequence have noticeably helped me in real life. I'm not fully implementing them or I wouldn't be spending my Saturday screwing around online, but I definitely feel empowered and optimistic, which is an unfamiliar situation. Applying these patterns of thinking at any time has proven to improve my life and my effectiveness. That is pretty cool for someone addicted to instant gratification.

Luminosity seems very related to mindfulness; it requires intentional control of one's attention in much the same way as meditation. I'm probably in better mental health than I usually am, since I can control my attention, but adding in your other strategies has allowed me to identify factors that help or inhibit my control.

So, uhh, thanks.

Comment author: Alicorn 04 December 2010 08:23:37PM 2 points [-]

You're welcome!

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 12 November 2010 07:07:36PM 5 points [-]

Ok, I know I'm late to the party, but I feel the need to comment about the Norway chapters. First a minor nitpick: You would not need to learn Norwegian to interact with people working in an international airport, nor indeed with people working on a remote farm in the uplands. (Although it is, of course, courteous to do so.)

Second point: Wolves? In the vicinity of Bergen? Ah... no. Not at all. Norway is not very densely settled by European standards, but come on; it's not the Canadian outback. There are something like 150 wolves in the whole of Scandinavia, mainly around the Swedish border and up north. The Norwegian wolf population is about 20-30 individuals and they're all in the eastern part of the country. And what's more, it's an endangered species. Where does Bella get off killing one?

Comment author: wedrifid 18 November 2010 05:22:38AM 1 point [-]

I share your sentiment. I would go as far as to say that I would respect her more had she opted to eat a human by preference. Not that it would be necessary. For crying out loud, eat someone's pet cat.

Were I myself a part of Luminosiverse I would, it would seem, look down upon Bella with the same sense of moral superiority that she has for 'carnivores'. I wouldn't go as far as fighting her over it - her threat to worthwhile novelty in the environment is still trivial compared to humanity and she would have at least some usefulness in achieving other worthwhile goals. It also isn't like she has a fundamentally unacceptable overall goals. Just messed up priorities when it comes to sorting between lesser evils.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 November 2010 07:28:38AM 1 point [-]

Were I myself a part of Luminosiverse I would, it would seem, look down upon Bella with the same sense of moral superiority that she has for 'carnivores'.

Are you actually saying that according to your values the life of a sapient human is worth less then the life of an endangered wolf?

Comment author: wedrifid 18 November 2010 08:09:34AM *  1 point [-]

My values, transposed into the position of a vampire in Luminosiverse, yes. I would be a predator, choosing among prey of two species that are not my own. There isn't anything magical about humanity and there is real value in maintaining a whole species. Particularly something as awesome as wolves. More so in a universe in which the species has magical significance.

As I mentioned, I'd eat someone's pet cat instead. But if it came down to a pure choice between eating wolves to extinction or eating a human then vampire wedrifid would eat a human.

Ultimately, if you bite the bullet on "Shut up and Multiply" then it turns out that you have to Shut up and Divide as well. A single human just isn't worth six billion times as much as the wolf species. In Bella's case she isn't doing a whole species worth of damage in one feed (which is, of course, hard to imagine) so the multiplicative factor isn't quite so large. But even so, her choice isn't a good one. Particularly given the ridiculous number of alternatives she had available.

Bella also can't be expected to Shut up and Multiply. If she follows in the author's footsteps she does not even implement consequentialism. But Bella's reasons for behaving unethically are not important.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 18 November 2010 09:30:50PM 4 points [-]

It may be worth pointing out that it is only the Scandinavian wolf population that is endangered, not the species as a whole; there's a lot of wolves in Russia. But still, given that the declared policy of the Norwegian state and, presumably, people (disregarding the dang farmers, who ought to get with the gains-from-specialisation program already and stop trying to farm in subarctic conditions) is that we want to preserve a wolf population, it's rather rude, as well as illegal, for a guest in the country to eat one. Not to mention unrealistic, in that finding a wolf anywhere near a fjord is really quite unlikely.

If it came to a choice between a wolf and a human, I would definitely eat the wolf; but that's not the choice Bella faces. Let her find a moose.

On another subject, I'm not quite sure about the ecological impact of 'vegetarian' vampires. They are clearly apex predators, and they are pure carnivores. There are not that many moose in any given area, much less killer whales; you would think they'd hunt out the local populations pretty quickly, and someone would notice. I suppose they can eat rabbits and lemmings, which nobody would miss, but if Bella can drain the blood of a killer whale in one sitting (!), how many rabbits does she need in a day? Something is weird about the energy flows in the Luminosiverse.

Comment author: Alicorn 18 November 2010 09:46:30PM 5 points [-]

I apologize for the imaginary depredation of endangered species. I just googled "Norwegian wildlife" and picked something. It became a minor conversation topic later so I don't want to edit it out. In fairness, Bella has no reason to know the conservation status of the Scandinavian population of any megafauna, and Edward is trying desperately at that point to get her to eat and knows carnivores to be more appealing than herbivores, so in the (perhaps wildly unlikely) event that he smelled a wolf near a fjord, he would encourage her to eat it and she'd have no reason to reject it because it has few friends.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 November 2010 12:28:00AM 1 point [-]

It may be worth pointing out that it is only the Scandinavian wolf population that is endangered, not the species as a whole

Good point.

Something is weird about the energy flows in the Luminosiverse.

It has vampires that look 'graceful' while at the same time accelerating at inhuman rates despite near-human mass. Vampires have vulnerabilities to other vampires and to wolves yet resistance to other physical attacks that is in no way proportionate with respect to physics. Yes, it's best just to consider the energy flows 'magic' and leave it that.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 November 2010 08:38:49AM 2 points [-]

There isn't anything magical about humanity and there is real value in maintaining a whole species.

Yes there is. Humans are sapient.

BTW, what do you find so magical about maintaining a whole species?

Comment author: wedrifid 18 November 2010 09:08:07AM 1 point [-]

Yes there is. Humans are sapient.

I almost commented on that the first time. It struck me as a red herring. Sapience is not even a universal feature of humanity. There are animals that I have known who are 'possessing of more wisdom and discernment' than the least among the humans I have known. Sapience is not the greatest distinguishing feature of humanity and I seriously doubt that you value humans in proportion to their degree of 'sapience' in practice.

BTW, what do you find so magical about maintaining a whole species?

I like wolves. I like novelty. No other reason is needed.

Comment author: Carinthium 18 November 2010 11:02:14AM 2 points [-]

Out of curiousity, could you give some examples and (ideally highly detailed) evidence? I'm curious to know, particularly how you managed to measure it.

Comment author: shokwave 18 November 2010 09:12:47AM 1 point [-]

Having been a human seems to be a strong argument in favour of unfairly privileging them over other species, even endangered.

Comment author: nshepperd 18 November 2010 09:43:42AM 1 point [-]

My values, transposed into the position of a vampire in Luminosiverse, yes. I would be a predator, choosing among prey of two species that are not my own.

Wait, why should your values change just because you're suddenly immortal? Or is it because of the magical value of wolves in the luminosiverse? This doesn't make sense.

Comment author: Carinthium 18 November 2010 11:00:44AM 2 points [-]

Although I don't, my best guess is that he puts a value on biodiversity.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 November 2010 12:12:25AM *  2 points [-]

Although I don't, my best guess is that he puts a value on biodiversity.

You don't put any value on biodiversity? As in, if you had the choice of destroying all biodiversity in the world that isn't directly necessary to human survival for benefit to you of one cent you would take it? That is cold.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 November 2010 12:10:57AM *  0 points [-]

Wait, why should your values change just because you're suddenly immortal?

Immortality is not the only change.

Or is it because of the magical value of wolves in the luminosiverse?

That plays somewhat of a part.

This doesn't make sense.

Sense? What is this 'sense' and how does it relate to human values? :P

Comment author: nshepperd 19 November 2010 12:41:21AM *  3 points [-]

I didn't think any change would be enough. Isn't morality subjunctively objective? What doesn't make sense is that you look like you're saying wedrifid_vampire's values are good according to wedrifid_now's values. If I were expecting to be "turned" I would do everything I can to maintain my current values after the event, because to do otherwise would be against my current values.

And my current values say that if it's a human or an endangered wolf, I'd save the human.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 November 2010 12:53:56AM 1 point [-]

I didn't think any change would be enough. Isn't morality subjunctively objective?

That doesn't preclude self reference. (sp. subjectively)

And my current values say that if it's a human or an endangered wolf, I'd save the human.

Does this apply in the extreme case? That is, species vs individual?

If I had a single use switch that could be used to either save the wolf species or save an individual human I'd flick it to 'wolf species'. The only reason I would even consider the other option is because humans lose their grip on perspective when it comes to morality - it is sometimes necessary to signal to them.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 19 November 2010 03:51:13AM 0 points [-]

Unless you can provide an objective reason why your values should prefer eating the wolf, I will assume it's because you have a rule saying that you should treat members of your own species specially.

Once you become a vampire, the extensional interpretation of this rule changes. It now says that you should treat vampires specially.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 19 November 2010 05:25:59AM 1 point [-]

I will assume it's because you have a rule saying that you should treat members of your own species specially.

I place value on sapience/sentience/self-awareness whatever you want to call it.

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 December 2010 08:58:02PM *  2 points [-]

Spoilers up to Chapter 21

In Chapter 18, Addy sends Elspeth to get magically tortured by Jane, on the theory that Elspeth will be able to send that memory to people as a weapon. It worked, albeit with limited potency. In Chapter 21, when this comes up, Jake, Ilario, and Maggie all agree that this was a particularly evil act.

I'd just like to point out that the morality of this decision is actually rather complicated, and that different ethical frameworks give different answers about whether it's okay or not. While being tortured was certainly bad, Elspeth did get a minor power in return. This much was foreseeable and, in fact, foreseen. Now, it is possible that at some point in the future, having this power will allow her to survive a situation she otherwise couldn't, or save someone she otherwise couldn't. This, too, is foreseeable, but uncertain. There is overlap with the deluge-of-memory power, which Elspeth acquired later, but not so much overlap that it couldn't still be useful; and acquiring the deluge-of-memory power was not necessarily foreseeable.

If having the Jane-lite power does in fact save Elspeth's life, then Addy's decision will reduce to having forced Elspeth to trade a few seconds of torture for survival later. This is a scaled-down version of the decision humans make when deciding whether to turn into vampires - a smaller amount of pain for a smaller increase in power and a smaller probability of it making the difference between life and death. Note that a supermajority of the humans presented with the option to turn have taken it (though it hasn't been unanimous).

According to a utilitarian framework, whether it was right to send Elspeth to be tortured depends on Addy's estimate of the probability that the Jane-lite power proves useful, and the relative values of survival and avoiding torture. To a utilitarian, Addy's motive (increasing her own power and maintaining social dominance over Elspeth) is irrelevant.

But according to a deontological moral framework, that doesn't matter because Addy, being neither Elspeth nor Elspeth's legal guardian, didn't have the authority to make that decision. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any person who actually would have that authority - Elspeth's a minor, Jake's decision-making is tainted by magic, Bella is unreachable, and the decision couldn't be put off for long enough to resolve any of these. So a slightly different deontological framework - one that required at least one person with the authority to trade torture for power to exist, and excluded Elspeth from that role - would make an exception.

Finally, when considering the virtue-ethics question of how virtuous Addy is, all that is screened off by the fact that she's a serial killer who eats humans.

But at some point, I think, we ought to have a character consider the question and acknowledge the ambiguity.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 December 2010 12:02:18AM 2 points [-]

According to a utilitarian framework, whether it was right to send Elspeth to be tortured depends on Addy's estimate of the probability that the Jane-lite power proves useful, and the relative values of survival and avoiding torture. To a utilitarian, Addy's motive (increasing her own power and maintaining social dominance over Elspeth) is irrelevant.

Addy did not bother to make that estimate. To that extent, her motive may be relevant, mayn't it?

Comment author: jimrandomh 27 December 2010 06:16:13AM 1 point [-]

An approximation of that estimate is encoded in the belief that having more power is better than having less (and in particular, the degree to which that is so). Not necessarily a good estimate, but at least an estimate. And besides, Addy's motive is only relevant to the question of whether she's good or evil (already answered by the fact that she eats people), not to the question of whether her decision was right or wrong.

Comment author: alethiophile 25 December 2010 06:51:22AM 2 points [-]

Wow. Arbitrary numbers of sub-agents.

I think this officially qualifies as the most awesome superpower ever.

My commendations, by the way, for updating even on Christmas Eve.

Comment author: Aharon 14 December 2010 01:45:27PM 2 points [-]

Two Points: 1) Your fanfic made me read the original stuff. Interestingly, for me, somehow the differences felt larger than in Eliezers fanfic, although I do realise that your fic has fewer points of departure than Eliezers. Might be because I hadn't read books from the Potter series in quite som time. A question though: I'm not far into the series, but I thought that at first, you only wanted the protagonist, Bella, to act more rational. However, the original!Bella seems to share luminous!Bellas wish to become a vampire, and, while less organized, advances the same arguments as luminous!Bella. Yet, luminous!Bella manages to convice Edward whle original!Bella doesn't. I admit that I didn't read your work as attentively as I might have read a paperback, so I might have missed the reason for that. Could you perhaps point me to it?

2) What's the reason again for Chelsea not being the leader of the Volterra coven? Her power is terrifying, and seems to be really dangerous if applied intelligently. More so than Aro's.

Comment author: Alicorn 14 December 2010 02:03:27PM 2 points [-]

1) Canon!Edward remains convinced until book 4 that turning Bella will constitute destroying her soul. Canon!Bella's attempts at addressing this are silly (arguing mostly from her belief that Edward must have a soul even though he's a vampire, on the grounds that he is wonderful and wonderful persons have souls). Luminous!Bella attacks this soul-related premise more directly, making the matter of turning a dichotomy between immortal life and Cessation Of Existence. And - while Edward might have otherwise changed his mind after agreeing - she makes the Volturi aware of her existence and interested in her progress significantly earlier than Canon!Bella did, meaning that it comes down to turning her or letting the Volturi punish her and the coven.

2) It's canon. I justify it by her simply not being interested in running the show; she just wants to be an indispensable member of the winning team.

Comment author: mjr 14 December 2010 01:53:13PM *  1 point [-]

My guess would be that Chelsea doesn't want to be quite so much a target at the top, preferring the role of a puppet master... (Well, at least in Luminosity, in canon it's probably just not well thought out ;] )

Comment author: Benquo 10 December 2010 08:15:14PM 2 points [-]

Best. Superpower. Ever.

We already knew her ability to "speak the truth" made her able to build unusually strong alliances. But this is even cooler.

Usually, when someone writes one of these "all is lost, but then by sheer force of awesomeness/will the hero overcomes it" it's pretty implausible, but I totally believe this one!

Also, it makes total sense that some of the Volturi's vampire witches would have a good amount of influence over what happens. Is this the tip of the iceberg; are we going to see more like Addy? It makes sense that if at any point Elspeth wants to change the Volturi status quo, she'd do it cooperatively, not all on her own like Bella.

Comment author: alethiophile 03 December 2010 06:14:05AM *  2 points [-]

Darn you, cliffhangers!

I want to know what effect Elspeth's other self will have on being Chelsea'd. If her other self can somehow propagate her love for her mother back to her, then that would take out a major chunk of the damage Chelsea can do to her. (Who else does Elspeth have a relationship with that Chelsea can nuke? Several people, Edward and the Denalis mostly; however, they aren't nearly as close to Elspeth. It would put even more of a crimp in her possible future relationship with Edward, though.)

On a side note, Chelsea's power is scary. Not just for its obvious nightmare-fuel, but for the cognitive implications. If it doesn't affect memory but still affects a person's evaluation of another's importance to them, then it must be either fundamentally changing their moral values such that even after reevaluating their memories, they do not feel that the other is important, or forcing the relationship-evaluating bit of their mind to evaluate to 'false' (or "Chelsea's chosen value", whatever) regardless of memory. But if it was the simple latter case, then a victim once they had left her immediate presence could undo most of the effect simply by reevaluating their memories and noting the things that make the other person important, which is evidently not the case. Thus, Chelsea is either fundamentally changing your sense of morality, or introducing irremovable inconsistencies into your relationship evaluation. Either way is awful.

Comment author: Giriath 03 December 2010 04:25:30PM 4 points [-]

I'm wondering if the other person Elspeth sees when she tries to 'talk' to herself is the manifestation of her witchcraft, which simply wants to tell the truth. If so, she should be able to use that to start doubting the way Chelsea has tweaked her to evaluate other people much quicker than if she were to begin re-evaluating her memories; memories that she may not trust with her new values. She has no reason not to trust her witchcraft however, so if she asks it about herself and what she thought of others before being Chelsea'd, she may recover very quickly. Once she's done this, she may also be able to help the Quileutes recover their original values. If not, then at least she can order Jacob around.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 December 2010 05:09:32PM 2 points [-]

Perhaps more awful, and perhaps not, depending on how you evaluate these things, is the fact that this sort of cognitive modification happens to people in the real world every day as a result of brain damage of various sorts.

Sacks writes fairly poignantly about this.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2010 04:50:10PM 2 points [-]

Agreed. To me Chelsea is the second-most-creepy thing about this series (mate bonds and imprinting being the most creepy, for reasons Alicorn has neatly illustrated).

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2010 05:00:27PM 1 point [-]

Actually on second thought, Chelsea is number one. She can make a parent forget to care about a lost child. The mate-bond/imprinting thing is something I have to take on faith--it's magic, got it--but I have two sons, and so for me mother-love is the strongest, most all-consuming force I can possibly imagine. If it was stripped from me I would not be me any more. What Chelsea does is terrifying. If I had to choose, I would choose a lifetime of being raped by Demetri over losing my love for my sons. Chelsea is worse.

Comment author: DSimon 14 December 2010 02:25:02PM 2 points [-]

If I were your son, I'd unequivocally tell you to choose the mind-alteration over the endless rape. They're both horrible, but at least under the first circumstance you'd be happy.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2010 05:05:25PM 2 points [-]

a lifetime of being raped by Demetri

It might or might not affect this calculation that Allirea is immortal.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2010 05:12:25PM 1 point [-]

Errrrgh. It probably would.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2010 05:32:06PM 3 points [-]

Allirea has children, anyway. There's nothing incompatible about the horrible fates here ;)

Comment author: Giriath 03 December 2010 05:43:41PM 1 point [-]

I agree that Chelsea is terrifying in this story. In canon her gift is rarely ever talked about, and the narrator (Bella) never really experiences it in any way. The effects of Chelsea's witchcraft have been felt all through late Luminosity and Radiance though, and it's certainly terrible. I have hope though that those affected can restore much of their previous personality and relationships by way of re-evaluating their memories, and even quicker with help from Elspeth, who is very hard to doubt. If precious friends and lovers have been killed or otherwise lost though, they'll never be the same.

The Volturi always had the capability of being horrifying in canon Twilight, but because SM was writing it as a love story they had to take a back seat and be very inactive and stupid when present, despite all their experience.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2010 05:47:12PM 1 point [-]

I'm one of the Luminosity readers who never actually read the Twilight books. So I'm only dimly aware of departures from canon. Were people at least afraid of Chelsea? Did they consider her a major threat?

Comment author: Giriath 03 December 2010 06:04:25PM 2 points [-]

Well, sure. They suspected that should the Volturi force them to join, she would start brain-frying them into liking their superiors and want to please them. It was later revealed she would do this to any talented vampires the Volturi wanted that they came across, while breaking their ties to outsiders. But this was mentioned maybe once or twice out all four books. Eleazar and Carmen leave the Volturi unhindered, which isn't really the case in this story. I suspect the choice they were given here was to have severe restrictions on their freedom or be completely altered by Chelsea. I think she may be more powerful in this story, but like I said it wasn't really discussed in canon.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2010 06:01:54PM 2 points [-]

In canon, Bella developed her shield by learning to share it, instead of by adding immunities to it. By the time Chelsea actually appears, nobody we are supposed to care about is left vulnerable. She never does a single thing that we are supposed to find more than vaguely unsettling.

Comment author: mjr 03 December 2010 10:56:10AM 1 point [-]

Does indeed seem like Elspeth put in her love for her mother in deep storage to be retrieved later, with the full force of the truthfulness that she's so good at conveying.

That "Forces of the Universe" spiel was a good sell, though; too bad that the alternative is, as you say, quite the monster.

And then there's Allirea, whose fate was left unclear as a surprise to no-one. Maybe she'll be there to meet the Cullens and Bella (who might have a bit of an advantage with being able to pay attention to her when others aren't, except whatever Eleazar manages with his "there's someone there" trick). They may be able to get some resistance going on after all.

Or, Allirea gets dragged back again, lather, rinse, repeat.

Moer.

Comment author: alethiophile 03 December 2010 02:18:51PM 1 point [-]

I really liked the disposal of Allirea. Eleazar's interaction with Santiago there was priceless.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2010 05:49:51PM 1 point [-]

Agreed!

Poor Allirea, though--she's got to be running out of time before Demetri shows up.

Comment author: alethiophile 03 December 2010 04:37:56AM 2 points [-]

Chapter 12 redirects to Chapter 1, though it shows up as links on the story page and Chapter 11.

Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2010 05:12:18AM 2 points [-]

Another reader caught this and I have fixed it. Sorry.

Comment author: alethiophile 03 December 2010 05:05:10AM 1 point [-]

Note Chapter 12 can still be viewed through the entire-story page.

Comment author: Giriath 01 December 2010 02:49:32AM 2 points [-]

I thought you said things would calm down for a while after chapter 10 Alicorn?! Jasper and Edward sure went brain-fried by their mate connection. I had my eyebrows pretty high when Jasper described his impromptu battle plan, and it seems I was right to be sceptic, cause damn them vampires turn stupid when their mate is in trouble.

We're in need of some heroics here or there'll be multiple dead characters next chapter. I think Santiago will decide that only Edward and Elspeth are worth sparing out of this bunch. I doubt Bella will suddenly start owning with her witchcraft in this story though, so perhaps there's some other kind of intervention? Maybe Bella brought company. Anyway I don't see how Elspeth and co. would escape if they're brought back to Volterra again.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 December 2010 07:04:25AM 2 points [-]

Jasper and Edward sure went brain-fried by their mate connection.

Yeah, everyone in the car except for David and Elspeth was completely driven by a single emotional imperative (Jasper: Save Alice! Edward: Find Bella! Allirea: Kill Demitri!) and they were all using their knowledge of each other's emotional imperatives to try and manipulate each other.

It's kind of a bleak scene, made possible, I think, by Chelsea. I mean, Edward makes a token noise about how Bella wouldn't want Elspeth used as a distraction in battle, but he doesn't feel the need to protect his daughter. If he did, he'd never have agreed to Jasper's plan. And in fact, if the normal bonds of family still held between Jasper and Edward, they each would presumably have been a little slower to risk the other's life so casually. But as it is, Jasper, Edward, and Allirea all feel they have nothing to lose, so of course they're willing to gamble everything on a risky plan.

Comment author: Giriath 01 December 2010 02:58:38PM 2 points [-]

Chelsea can certainly make people very predictable. If one has a mate, then all they're going to care about after being Chelsea'd is their safety, and they're most probably not going to trust anyone else with protecting them until they've rebuilt their relationships. If one doesn't have a mate, then he or she is going to care about his or her safety and no one else's, and it will probably take them a while to find allies they're able to trust with their life. If you don't trust anyone, it will be very hard to make a sensible plan and stick to it.

This makes me wonder if Edward won't just run away from the battle, if he hasn't somehow been incapacitated of course. If there seems to be no way to win or get Elspeth out of there, he would want to find Bella and stop her before she can get there.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 03:42:06PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, everyone in the car except for David and Elspeth

You forgot Peter and Charlotte.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 December 2010 05:25:36PM 1 point [-]

I did, you're right. They weren't much of a presence in this chapter.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 02:57:56AM 1 point [-]

Chapter 10 was all the breather you got, sorry ;)

Comment author: alethiophile 30 November 2010 03:07:37AM 2 points [-]

You know, it would be highly amusing for Elspeth to, for some plot-convenient reason, have to try to convince a fundamentalist, say, that evolution is true. (Insert similar setup here; it doesn't have to be evolution, that's just the first thing that came to mind.) Does she work equally well trying to convince someone of a position in debate that she honestly believes is true? If so, she could be the ultimate espionage tool, albeit a necessarily oblivious one.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 30 November 2010 03:18:15AM 3 points [-]

It probably ought not be evolution, unless Elspeth is actually in a position to give an account of human evolution that is consistent with what she knows about vampirism, lycanthropy, or witchcraft. In which case I would totally love to hear it, because I can't think of one.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 November 2010 04:15:29AM *  1 point [-]

Witchcraft, yes. Lycanthropy, at a stretch. Vampirism... not unless it involves cooevolution on Krypton! :P

Comment author: Alicorn 30 November 2010 05:21:06AM 3 points [-]

Witchcraft, yes.

Really? Now I'm curious. Let's hear it.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 November 2010 03:16:45AM *  3 points [-]

Her power does vary in effectiveness depending on how closely she has verified the thing she says (e.g. if at age four she said "My daddy is dead", this would ring true, but not as true as "I'm four", because she believes the first thing secondhand and knows the second thing firsthand). And it's not actually impossible to doubt her even at her maximum truthiness. She conveys that she isn't lying (and isn't a hallucination or otherwise basically untrustworthy), but she doesn't come off as an Omega-creature who is absolutely beyond the possibility of being mistaken.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 December 2010 06:21:27AM 1 point [-]

We just saw this demonstrated, actually, in Chapter 11. Jasper is able to guess that Elspeth took the wrong meaning from Cody's story.

Comment author: CronoDAS 30 November 2010 01:34:24AM 2 points [-]

The "next" link at the bottom of Chapter 8 of Radiance links to Chapter 8 and not to Chapter 9.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 November 2010 02:31:31AM 2 points [-]

Fixed, thank you.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 November 2010 05:36:39AM 2 points [-]

Just wanted to comment- I really enjoy how you're portraying Elspeth's lack of experience with making decisions and how she's reacting to it. It's obvious she's been damaged by her parents, but she's reacting maturely. That matureness was somewhat shocking- it's rare that someone is the first person to think that they should grow up- but shocking in a good way. It's hard to show damage instead of just moping, and you're doing a good job of that.

Suspicion (that I hope is incorrect): Oryyn qvq trg xvyyrq guvf gvzr, naq fb Rqjneq naq Ryfcrgu jvyy unir gb fgneg bire jvgubhg Oryyn gb trg ure. Rqjneq, qevira ol eriratr, gnxrf qbja gur Ibyghev, naq nf Tvevngu fhfcrpgf Ryfcrgu orpbzrf n znwbe svther va gur arj tbireazrag.

Comment author: alethiophile 30 November 2010 02:54:48AM 1 point [-]

Unlikely. Alice saw Bella, so unless someone is doing a remarkably good job of spoofing her (which is something that has not yet been mentioned as possible) Bella is alive. The only way I can think of, barring some entirely new witch, to spoof Alice that makes any sense is that Adelaide copying Alice can spoof her, in the same way that she can Jasper, and we know that Adelaide was last seen with an entirely useless power (Elspeth's) and has not touched Alice since.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 24 November 2010 07:45:15PM 2 points [-]

Radiance Ch 8.

Experiments should've been performed to make sure Elspeth can carry out plans without remembering why, because Allirea believes it's very difficult and she should be assumed to know better (by both of them), and it's very important for this to work. Instead, Elspeth just "tries hard", and Allirea expects that to work, while it's apparently something that Saeed can perform only "because he has years' worth of experience being punished by Demetri every time he ignores this sort of intention". As I see it, they are both holding idiot ball in that situation, no matter how that actually worked out.

Next, Elspeth needed to "mutter lies", but it takes away some attention to invent new lies constantly, so obviously they should've checked if muttering the same lie over and over works as well.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 November 2010 08:46:58PM *  2 points [-]

Allirea doesn't have much riding on the plan. The Volturi can't kill her without permanently alienating Demetri, who they need, and he's the only person on staff she can't hide from. If things go pear-shaped, she just fades and tries something else.

They also can't kill Elspeth if they have any interest in being able to use Jacob.

they should've checked if muttering the same lie over and over works as well.

It doesn't, which Elspeth knows (the relevant feature of the lies is how they affect her power, not Allirea's directly).

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 24 November 2010 10:33:20PM *  2 points [-]

If things go pear-shaped, she just fades and tries something else.

That an error has relatively small cost (though don't forget opportunity cost), is no argument for making the error, when it could be just not made. It costs nothing to not make the error, so the costs of consequences of making the error are not relevant, as there is no tradeoff.

Edit: Also, the cost is not small for Elspeth, so this argument I disagree with doesn't even address one of the two idiot balls.

It doesn't, which Elspeth knows

It wasn't obvious that she can reliably feel the effect of lies on her power, and that there is a reliable dependence of efficiency of hiding-into-unimportance on Elspeth's perception of her power. The direct measurement is Allirea's sense of efficiency of hiding, and it's accessible to experiment, so it obviously should be tested (unless both of my questions in the first statement of this paragraph receive negative answers, which I can't see how can be done for the second one without testing).

Comment author: Alicorn 25 November 2010 12:34:19AM *  2 points [-]

The direct measurement is Allirea's sense of efficiency of hiding, and it's accessible to experiment

When Allirea fades someone else, Allirea herself is not affected by this. The test of how effectively Elspeth is hidden is how people other than Allirea react to her. Saeed lets her out of the cell, which constitutes excellent evidence that she can fade well enough to get the job done.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 25 November 2010 10:55:33AM *  2 points [-]

The test of how effectively Elspeth is hidden is how people other than Allirea react to her. Saeed lets her out of the cell, which constitutes excellent evidence that she can fade well enough to get the job done.

Yes, this tells that changing lies work. This doesn't address the question of efficacy of muttering the same lie.

Also, that "I'm 51, I'm 52, ..." works is indirect evidence that constant lies work as well, and proof-of-concept of how figuring out an efficient low-creativity algorithm can indeed bear fruit.

When Allirea fades someone else, Allirea herself is not affected by this.

She noticed that Elspeth "announces her presence" loudly, which is a perception on the same scale.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 November 2010 05:30:56AM 2 points [-]

She noticed that Elspeth "announces her presence" loudly, which is a perception on the same scale.

Yes, but Allirea seems to effect people other than herself. And so if she hides Elspeth to everyone but Allirea, her perception of how "loud" Elspeth is won't change.

Comment author: Lila 03 December 2010 09:53:44PM 1 point [-]

Allirea wouldn't be sensing how well her fading works on Elspeth. She would just be sensing how well Elspeth's "counter-fading" power is working. And it seems like she can sense that.

Comment author: Lila 03 December 2010 09:50:08PM 1 point [-]

Elspeth doesn't need to feel the effect of lies, she can just remember what worked better and what worked worse when she lied to people in the past, based on the reactions of those people.

I agree that it would have been wiser for Elspeth to take some time to confirm that she could carry out plans (of varying complexities) while faded and thus not remembering the reasoning behind her actions. But hey, she's 5. Probably a lot more brain power than a human child, but brain power doesn't necessarily equal sense. She can have the idiot ball for awhile.

Hmm, I suppose it's also possible that Allirea didn't really give her the option to think things over and be cautious. She told her the plan and then they did it, and once Elspeth was faded she couldn't think about that stuff. So maybe it's all on Allirea? Well, but speed of thinking actually is one of those things that would come with brain power, so if Elspeth was going to think of it at all, she probably could have thought of it in the time she had.

Allirea could have been more conscientious about confirming Elspeth's ability to hold up her end of the deal. Then again, if they found that Elspeth couldn't do it, maybe there's no alternative. Perhaps it's this or nothing. Experimenting wouldn't allow them to alter the plan to make up for Elspeth's inability, because there just isn't any other possible plan. So, it might be reasonable to just go for it, and if it doesn't work, oh well, not that big a deal, in Allirea's mind.

Possibly Elspeth, if she thought she couldn't carry out the plan, would have preferred not to do anything at all, for fear of harsher repercussions from the Volturi. But maybe not, if she is confident that they want to use Jacob and that that will limit how harshly they treat her.

Yeah, it's all maybes with me. :)

Comment author: Giriath 22 November 2010 03:43:35AM *  2 points [-]

Chapter 7.

I'm going to assume almost the whole chapter isn't meant to be in cursive font and that you made a typo somewhere there. I'm only going to write a few thoughts I had on the chapter. First off, Bella is hella quick to come up with very possible hypotheses on what the Volturi will do, how and why. I really hope she got away this time too, or at least survived. Now, if I understood this correctly (it was really confusing to be honest), then it seems to me that Elspeth is most likely in a cell with a witch who can make those around her ignore hers and maybe others' presence. Elspeth notices this person but seemingly decides she's of no importance at all, even though she certainly should be. Her mind probably went all over the place trying to ignore the stranger killing Carlo while also trying to figure out what was happening to him. He didn't know what was happening either even though he could most probably plainly see her feasting on his neck.

If the stranger has this witchcraft, then I wonder how the Volturi are keeping her captive, and captured her in the first place. It seems unlikely that they would have someone like Bella who can shield against such mental illusions or attacks. Perhaps the guard can counteract it if he knows she's there and focuses on her all the time from when he opens the door until he closes it. If that's the case, then Elspeth may be able to help her by taking his attention off of her.

I also noticed that it took quite some time for this stranger to attack Carlo; maybe she was 'vegetarian' or a newborn who tries her best to resist. If she's newborn it's quite possible she was captured by the Volturi to be changed, or was in the process of being transformed when captured and then forgotten or assumed to have somehow escaped when her witchcraft got a power boost with her change. This may explain why they put Elspeth in a cell with a vampire, but they may also just not have cared about the safety of their prisoners. If she's newborn maybe she is too confused to escape, and isn't aware of what she can do.

Elspeth also seems unhid, or else the guard, the stranger and Carlo are all hidden (and I don't believe that for a second), so if her hypothesis that Del can't unhide her because she'd copy Elspeth's gift before she can use Pera's, then we must assume the Volturi made Pera unhide her and most likely everyone else who didn't manage to avoid capture. Unless Pera died and her witchcraft was nullified of course.

It will be very interesting to see how Elspeth manages to escape together with this stranger who may be even better at hiding than even Pera. After all, what better way to hide than being able to stare those hunting you in the face only to find them walking past you, continuing the search. I wonder how that would work with Demetri. He'd probably breach whatever the range of her witchcraft is, proceed to ignore her presence and look under every stone in the area, knowing she's there somewhere, then inevitably stumble outside her range and try to figure out what in the hell just happened. Maybe he'd tip-toe in and out and eventually find the answer to if vampire's really can go crazy (not counting Jasper).

The most similar witch I can think of at the moment (it's 04:33 here so I'm rambling) is Renata, only the stranger is more powerful if she can project over an area or other people. From what I've gathered about Renata her witchcraft simply rejects anyone with an intention to harm those under her protection; they still know the target is there, they just can't attack it. The stranger seems to make you think you don't want anything to do with her when under her spell. You don't want to sense her or think about her, and you certainly don't have any intention to interact in any way with her. It's an extremely powerful self-preservation ability that also has the potential to make her very lonely. If Edward really isn't alive, then I demand that this girl become Bella's second mate!

Hmm. That ended up being more than a few thoughts...

EDIT: After reading this, I've decided that 'the stranger' has a nice ring to it. Please please please make her be a newborn with little to no memory of her human life. :)

Comment author: [deleted] 22 November 2010 07:53:54PM 2 points [-]

I really liked the paragraphs describing "the stranger" -- I thought it was a nifty bit of writing.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 November 2010 04:00:09AM 2 points [-]

I'm going to assume almost the whole chapter isn't meant to be in cursive font and that you made a typo somewhere there.

Fixed.

the Volturi made Pera unhide her and most likely everyone else who didn't manage to avoid capture.

Yep.

I wonder how that would work with Demetri.

Wouldn't you like to know.

second mate

That is not a thing that happens.

Comment author: Giriath 19 November 2010 05:34:05PM *  2 points [-]

Chapter 6.

Oh boy! So let me try crystal-balling: Bella either kills or turns Pera or is stopped before she can do fatal harm or bite. It's also possible Elspeth could suck out her venom should Pera be bit, I guess. Brady is sure to attempt steam-rolling Bella in any scenario, but Jacob should be able to halt that attempt quickly. Even if he can't or won't, Bella is very unlikely to die considering they'd have to be chill with dismembering her and then continuously lighting her on fire, all the while ignoring Elspeth fighting for her mother; something Jacob cannot do.

If Bella is somehow stopped before she can get at Pera, and is thwarted from trying to so again, then everyone except Elspeth will most likely be quite peevish with her. It's also very likely that Pera just so happens to be Bella's yummy singer. Either that or she was extremely hungry, which is also a possibility if she was stupid enough not to feed after reassembling herself. Elspeth also noted that Pera's blood smelled very good. Maybe mother and daughter have similar tastes. I imagine Bella will have some difficulties travelling with the pack should Pera be her singer, though it will do wonders for her self-control should she learn to resist her.

If Bella kills Pera, it is likely that either Bella or Brady will have to die, since Brady won't stop trying to kill her. The pack or what is left of them after this confrontation obviously lose the ability to 'hide' with Pera in this scenario; cue Volturi slaughter and slavery.

If Pera starts turning, and Elspeth either can't or is too late to suck out the venom, then they most likely lose the ability to 'hide' during Pera's transformation due to her not really being in a state to concentrate, and may also find themselves with quite a large contingent of Volturi on their heels during that time. When she wakes up she'll maybe be all kinds of more awesome than she already is, have a sudden desire to chew on all humans present, relationship issues with Brady and be a little peeved with Bella and life in general.

In both above scenarios, they're all very likely to suddenly pop up in a relatively seclusive location in the middle of NYC with a woman screaming her lungs out - or a dead woman, and a ravenous vampire doing her best to devour said woman. I'm going to bet on the latter scenario of Pera being turned vampire because Alicorn has already gone out her way to explain what would happen to a wolf-imprint relationship should the imprint be turned vampire. That and the PeraVamp and BellaVamp combo could be verrrra awesome should Bella actually learn how to use her witchcraft in any other situation than playing dead, and Pera could probably help her with that.

Comment author: Perplexed 20 November 2010 05:59:01AM *  1 point [-]

If Bella is somehow stopped before she can get at Pera ...

I believe that the traditional way to do this is to tear her limb from limb. And then keep the limbs and stuff separated. Well, that presents us with both a TV Trope and a LessWrong Trope.

Interesting, but I'm getting a little tired of all the mayhem. I mean I'm all in favor of Lois McMaster Bujold's idea of how you create plots in character driven fiction - "You ask yourself 'What is the worst possible thing I could do to these people?' and then you do it." But the worst possible thing you can do to vampires and five and a half year old half-vampires is just not comparable to the worst possible thing you can do to Captain Cordelia Naismith. She escaped with just a few broken bones and the loss of her government job.

Comment author: Alicorn 20 November 2010 02:12:54PM *  1 point [-]

Sorry. I expect there to be less mayhem starting around chapter 10. At least for a breather.

Comment author: JenniferRM 16 November 2010 10:42:38PM *  2 points [-]

Up to Radiance, Chapter 4:

"Imprint face?"

"You'll see it when you see a wolf and his imprint together. It's pretty distinctive. It's this look they get in their eyes, really focused and intense and tender. Says, you are the center of the universe and I worship the ground you walk on and your wish is my command and I will defend you with my life. It'd be corny if they weren't so sincere about it...

Did anyone else think "oxytocin!" when they read this? :-)

...

I'm trying to imagine what to expect when the two "werewolf chromosomes" are sequenced and this helps clarify those expectations a bit. The really crazy part about the chromosomes is that is seems likely that the "compatibilism genes" seem to be woven into a regulatory structure, hooking some "as-yet-uncharacterized magical physics" to "well studied biophysical systems" in ways that are obviously complex adaptations and substantially implemented in the genes themselves.

In MoR the in-story working compatibilist hypothesis is that there is a single compatibilism gene that is blindly pattern matched by a very complex magical system, which gives organisms with two copies of the compatibilism gene privileged access to a magical interface of some sort. All the regulatory elements of the magical system in MoR are, by hypothesis, fixed in some magical medium that is outside of the "atoms in motion" mechanisms that modern science is making intelligible. Casting spells accesses the interfaces. Learning the interface may ultimately be the only way it is possible to gain information about the magical medium. Building a spell casting robot without using DNA may simply be impossible.

With the vampire and wolf chromosomes (and witch genes?), there's a distinct possibility that there are things like "mind sensing proteins", "atemporallly sensitive proteins", "telekinesis proteins", "magical neurotransmitters", "clairvoyance organs", or something with physical structure and magical function that interacts by simple physical means with simple physical systems. If a werewolf chromosome was sequenced, and bacteria were used to grow werewolf proteins, I have no idea what precisely to expect, but it seems at leat 50% likely that however things turned out to work, the mechanisms could be learned and re-used so that engineers could eventually create designer proteins/organs/whatever that were more magical than existing magical proteins/organs/whatever and these could be integrated into biomechaincal(?) systems to create "supermagical tools".

Or not depending on what the microbiologists discover :-P

And then in the meantime the existence of all this complexity sort of demands an explanation as to the source. How could such chromosomes evolve? Are they artificial chromosomes? Maybe there is a whole new hidden species ("science gnomes"?) that create the artificial chromosomes which are still hidden or extinct? Or maybe theism is the only intellectually honest answer? Maybe an entity (a god/demon/ghost/author/whatever) instantiated in a purely magical medium gained access to the world by calling complex physical structure into existence ab initio, and the compatibilist mechanisms are complex because it didn't occur to the entity to produce something other than chromosomes?

Being honest and genre-aware, my sense is that the author of twilight just said "chromosomes" because she thinks of chromosomes as semi-magical entities anyway, so mentioning chromosomes just seemed to add magical plausibility for similarly minded readers rather than raising a thorny nest of scientific and philosophical issues for the smaller group of people who intuitively grok materialistic reasoning.

Hints like the oxytocin thing keep reminding me that there's a lot of physics and a lot of open questions left to be worked out in this universe!

It would be neat if Elspeth is forced to work out more rationality than her mother had, with her mother serving as inspiration and warning, and then Elspeth might stumble into some of this. This site probably has a lot of material that could be borrowed to show a plausible rationalist origin story if that's where the story is headed :-)

Comment author: PhilGoetz 07 November 2010 04:29:09PM 2 points [-]

I really liked this:

"You like solving mysteries?"

"I like the nonexistence of mysteries. Mysteries mean I've missed something," I said shortly.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 October 2010 02:18:01AM 2 points [-]

Should I read Luminosity if I disliked Twilight? Does it matter why I dislike Twilight? Can I read it if I never finish Twilight?

(I tried reading Twilight this week. Got halfway through it. The writing style is very workmanlike - good at describing the surroundings, and just enough other important details to move quickly from point A to point B in the plot. Descriptions of Edward are limited to monotonous repetitions of "perfect" and "beautiful", and descriptions of Bella are absent. None of the dialogue is clever. All the boys fall for Bella, who is not interesting; and her reaction (only wants what she can't have) is repellent. The central love story is unconvincing, but is a little interesting because Edward is unpredictable. So far, it is an efficient vehicle for romance-novel cliches. I may finish it, but will feel guilty if I do.)

Comment author: Alicorn 29 October 2010 02:23:04AM 5 points [-]

Should I read Luminosity if I disliked Twilight?

Maybe.

Does it matter why I dislike Twilight?

Yes. If you hated the vampires, don't read Luminosity. If you hated the writing, read Luminosity. If you hated the supporting cast, don't read Luminosity. If you hated the protagonist, read Luminosity.

Can I read it if I never finish Twilight?

Yes. You can also read it if you never started Twilight.

Comment author: Cyan 29 October 2010 02:22:16AM 2 points [-]

I'm told that Bella's heart is basically a separate character, as it's forever obtruding into the narrative with its pounding, racing, throbbing, etc.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 October 2010 07:36:18PM *  2 points [-]

I'm told that Bella's heart is basically a separate character, as it's forever obtruding into the narrative with its pounding, racing, throbbing, etc.

... I'm pretty sure she got over that eventually. ;)

Comment author: Alicorn 25 October 2010 11:17:29PM 2 points [-]

I don't think it's still necessary to warn about the text color. You can change it by clicking the correct part of the sidebar.

Comment author: JenniferRM 26 October 2010 01:52:09AM 2 points [-]

I just copy and pasted from the first discussion thread. Fixed now :-)

Comment author: Alicorn 17 November 2010 04:25:40AM *  2 points [-]

I'm in the market for a second beta reader for the fic. [EDIT: I have found one, but I don't object to acquiring a greater number if someone else finds the prospect appealing.] Job description:

  • Be on an IM client a lot (bonus points if you keep different hours from the beta I already have)

  • Receive pastes of drafts of Radiance sections as I write them (in raw HTML)

  • Listen to me hammer out future plot details (including those which will actually come to fruition and therefore constitute spoilers)

  • Be discreet about any fic contents or information that I haven't published yet (for some unfathomable reason, there exist people who don't like spoilers, and I don't want them harmed, so I prefer to handle spoilery inquiries personally and in private)

  • Supply (via aforementioned IM client) feedback on the fic pastes and outline, in the form of comments, questions, attempts to point out plot holes, gentle critique of prose, silly jokes, &c. (Key here isn't making the fic better; I can mostly handle the quality to my satisfaction. Quantity is trickier and requires that I feel like my writing is getting attention, which is what the beta and this feedback is for.)

Interested parties can PM me or find my contact info on the fic website's About page.

Comment author: Alicorn 31 January 2011 08:04:16PM 1 point [-]

I still have too many "dead hours" when I want someone to write at and all my existing betas are offline or busy. Anybody interested in betaing? (I'm curious about why not, if not and it's not an obvious reason like disliking spoilers or IM or Radiance.)

Comment author: Giriath 10 November 2010 05:15:11PM 2 points [-]

I have some thoughts on chapter 2 of Radiance. It's very interesting that Jacob's pack has a former 'kept' wolf. He should have a lot of information on the Volturi and the 'kept' packs. It's unfortunately also quite probable that he should know whether Edward was actually killed or not, and since Cody said Elspeth's parents were both killed it's safe to assume Brady either somehow doesn't have any information on that or that Edward really was killed.

I guess we'll also see if Elspeth is Jacob's imprint next chapter. Personally I'd like it if her mate was female.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 November 2010 05:35:35AM *  5 points [-]

Personally I'd like it if her mate was female.

I suppose it doesn't matter too much given that vampires and, I believe, female half vampires are infertile but surely there is scope for one of the luminosity specific romances to be heterosexual. The Gianna match is going to be hard to top in cuteness after all.

Come to think of it what I would like to see is a mystically enhanced but non-monogomous relationship. As a hybrid herself Elspeth is a perfect candidate for being in both forms of Twilight's magical codependency. A 'pair' bond with a vampire and an imprinted wolf. Could be fun. Could even allow for some novel applications and extensions of Elespeth's power.

Comment author: Alicorn 18 November 2010 02:15:14PM 2 points [-]

female half vampires are infertile

Given the fic's interpretation of what imprinting is for, Jacob's imprinting is in fact proof positive that Elspeth (at least) can have (wolf!) children (at least with him).

Comment author: JGWeissman 19 November 2010 12:20:12AM 3 points [-]

Were half vampires in the wolf imprinting mechanism's training data?

Comment author: Alicorn 19 November 2010 12:22:13AM 2 points [-]

Doesn't matter. It's magical.

Comment author: JGWeissman 19 November 2010 12:30:56AM 6 points [-]

Ah, a magical classifier for a magical category. ;)

Comment author: PhilGoetz 18 November 2010 02:17:09AM *  -2 points [-]

I'm liking Luminosity! I'm even tempted to read Twilight to find out what's different.

Not a big criticism, but I have to say something regarding the passage where Bella hunts a wolf.

Some current animal populations in Washington State:

Far more ethical to hunt a human.

Comment author: WrongBot 18 November 2010 04:55:07AM 2 points [-]

I'm assuming you're joking, but the idea of assigning ethical value based on scarcity still makes me cry.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 November 2010 05:06:46AM 2 points [-]

Not only that, it makes me inclined to assert that I be designated part of the smallest conceivable category that is plausible while also lumping everyone else into groups as general as I can get away with.

I'm a special unique butterfly, leave me alone!

Comment author: PhilGoetz 19 November 2010 03:43:22AM 1 point [-]

The fact that you can make a wrong conclusion from a position, by using bad reasoning, is not an argument against that position.

Comment author: shokwave 18 November 2010 06:45:25AM 1 point [-]

Which leads to the reductio ad absurdum "You're unique, just like everyone else."

Comment author: PhilGoetz 19 November 2010 03:33:49AM *  0 points [-]

"Ethical value"?

The ethics here are within Bella's mind, not within the wolf's. The ethical dilemma is that to realize the value of her continue life, she needs to destroy other things of value. The ethical problem is to minimize the value she destroys. And the fact that value depends on scarcity is a fundamental economic principle.

It's a value calculation. Don't confuse things by inventing a new category of "ethical value".

Comment author: WrongBot 19 November 2010 04:56:10AM 7 points [-]

The ethical problem is to minimize the value she destroys.

Yes.

And the fact that value depends on scarcity is a fundamental economic principle.

No. You're claiming that Bella should place a higher value on members of scarce species than on members of more common species. But she could instead assign value to other entities based on their intelligence, or in inverse proportion to their tastiness, or by any other standard. Economics doesn't have anything normative to say about ethics.

Comment author: Vaniver 19 November 2010 05:37:22AM 2 points [-]

Economics doesn't have anything normative to say about ethics.

But the descriptive part of economics definitely pairs up with ethic's normative statements. It seems like if wolves are more valued by others than deer, the statement "destroy as little of what other people value as you can" needs to have an answer of the economic question "how much do other people value my options?" to function properly.

I disagree with PhilGoetz that wolves are valuable due solely to their scarcity- I think that some things, like smallpox or mosquitoes, should be endangered or extinct - but I think it's pretty trivial to put together the argument that killing a wolf for pleasure is much, much more wrong than killing a deer for pleasure.

Comment author: Perplexed 19 November 2010 04:55:30AM *  5 points [-]

The ethics here are within Bella's mind, not within the wolf's.

Excellent reply. Upvoted. But there several problems with the position you are staking out. One is your over-the-top claim that it is more ethical to hunt a human. Agreed, the wolf has more value as a carrier of biodiversity, but that is not the only kind of value to be considered.

A second is your acceptance of "scarcity" as the word for the characteristic making the wolf valuable. As if the value arises by the same process as does the value in a rare coin. Supply and demand. No, actually the wolf is valuable as a carrier of information. Killing one of only a handful of wolves probably extinguishes several dozen alleles from the species gene pool and greatly increases the risk that the entire species will be extinguished. At least in Washington State.

And therein lies your third mistake. If you had been quoting wildlife populations in the entire Pacific Northwest, including B.C., then they might mean something. But the last wolf in Washington state has almost no biodiversity value if there are still plenty of wolves in Idaho or in Canada. Conducting a wildlife census based on human political boundaries makes no sense at all.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 19 November 2010 05:22:22AM *  2 points [-]

Don't confuse things by inventing a new category of "ethical value".

I think you're confusing things by conflating ethical value and economic value.

Edit: Also, even assuming you want to equate ethical and economic value, a human still has more value since he can create things of value much better then a wolf.

Comment author: wedrifid 19 November 2010 08:29:51AM 1 point [-]

I reversed my vote when I saw the edit. While the conflation point is undeniable the 'can create value' is not especially relevant to Phil's discussion of scarcity and changed my impression of the comment to 'just throw soldiers for the Rah Humans side'.

It is by no means assured that the eaten human from the margin would have created more value than is lost by damaging a hypothetical endangered animal. In fact, someone who particularly values biodiversity the net value that would have been created by the human is almost certainly negative.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 19 November 2010 07:08:30PM *  1 point [-]

It is by no means assured that the eaten human from the margin would have created more value than is lost by damaging a hypothetical endangered animal.

Since we're equating ethical value and economic value here, there's a simple way to test this: how much could you get paid to save the human vs. the wolf. Given that this is Norway and not some third world country, the human presumably has a decent amount of money he'd be willing to pay to save his life, not to mention his family and friends and the potential to take out a loan against future earnings. As for the wolf, you might be able to get something out of an animal-lover but not nearly as much as from the human.

In fact, someone who particularly values biodiversity the net value that would have been created by the human is almost certainly negative.

Except PhilGoetz is trying to use this argument to justify valuing biodiversity.

Comment author: Alicorn 18 November 2010 02:18:58AM 1 point [-]

Bella hunts a wolf in Norway, not in Washington State.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 20 November 2010 03:32:50PM 1 point [-]

I'm not as much concerned with Bella's ethics in a fictional world, as I am with correcting the impression many people in the real world have that predators are common. This wrong impression kills predators.

I met a hunter in New York State in the early 1990s, near Corning, who encountered the first wolf pack seen in the state in maybe 50 years, and immediately shot one of them, because "they kill too many deer". He wasn't making it up. He showed me a photo.

Comment author: Giriath 30 December 2010 11:26:40AM *  -1 points [-]

I don't have a child and I'm only really close with one family member, but if I had the opportunity to destroy an organization that kills hundreds of thousand of people and probably will kill a whole lot more if left unchecked, then I'd probably do my best no matter how many family members I lose, or I myself die. While fighting them I'd also be doing my best to make sure the system that will replace them will help people instead of kill them.

It's kind of like how I see today's society. We're almost all taught that success is to earn money; and that money is created out of nothing and has a value controlled by the corporations who have the most of it. Because they have so much money, they can control much of the world. Many politicians they have close ties to are funded and become a congressman or even President. They control the law and they control the industry.

They don't like people who spread this knowledge, but they're not much of a threat yet as the great majority do as they're taught and condemn them as crazy conspiracy theorists without getting any information on the topic or giving it a single thought. More of a threat are political leaders who want what is best for their people and start using the country's resources for them. They get bribed, threatened and scandalized or killed--in that order--if they're unwilling to be swayed.

Nowadays they just don't come to power. In countries where such leaders are elected by other politicians they are lumped together with the crazy conspiracy theorists. In countries where the people elect them, we get people like Aung San Suu Kyi who are isolated and ignored for 20 years while the world twirls its thumbs like they can't do anything.

I'd risk my life to change this system, which is what I believe people will eventually have to do if there is to be any change. It's the reason we have competition over resources we can make abundant with our technology; war, poverty, starvation etcetera are all results of the system, which thrives on scarcity, not abundance. That's why we use oil and diamonds for example, because they're scarce and therefore can be sold at a high price.

Comment author: katydee 30 December 2010 12:11:28PM *  11 points [-]

You know, this model of reality is really not true-- but before you cut me off as one of the great majority that does as it's taught, I'd like to point out that I disagree for reasons unlike those that you probably encounter most of the time. I don't think that reality is better than what you claim, and I'm not going to say that you're nuts. Unfortunately, I think that reality is worse than what you just said. Please take the time to read my post and hear me out, because I feel that this is important.

There is no conspiracy. There is no system, or at least not one that we can control. There is no one group that controls all world events. It's just people all the way down. And people are irrational, weak-minded, hypocritical, obsessed with status, and prone to making the same mistakes over and over again.

Conspiracy theories are actually optimistic, not pessimistic. If your model of the world were true, it would be easier to solve the world's problems than it actually is. All we would need to do is take out the guys at the top-- the corrupt corporate dictators who control the law, the industry, and the world economy-- and either tear down the system or take the helm and steer it towards good. In short, if we just eliminated or deposed those who act to enforce scarcity, a golden age of technological abundance would be ours to take.

But this will never happen. You mentioned a potential "opportunity to destroy an organization that kills hundreds of thousands of people," but no such opportunity will ever arise, because there is no such organization, or if there is it is not unique and a new one will rise in its place. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of people die every day, and not because the evil overlords demand that this must be so, but because mankind is far from the conditions of natural adaptation. We are not optimized to live in modern society-- indeed, many elements of modern society run counter to everything that our bodies and minds were designed for-- and the vast, vast majority of people aren't even aware of this. People trust their intuitions, rely on their instincts, cling to that which has been passed down from their ancestors-- and much of the information derived from these methods is wrong, and has been wrong for years and years, and leads only to ruin.

That being said, that doesn't mean that we have to stay that way. You've found your way to this site, which is the first step. Stay here, read the sequences, practice he art of human rationality as best you are able-- in time, you will be able to see that which most have missed. You will be able to correct their errors. Indeed, you will be able to guide others to the path, and help them become capable of correcting their own errors. After all, thousands of years of history show that, when left to our own devices, we merely repeat our same mistakes, but on grander scales-- it is only by raising the "sanity waterline" of mankind as a whole that we can hope to see people truly change.

It's a frightening world out there, and not one that we'll be able to redeem by one noble sacrifice. Indeed, the struggle to create a sane society will be one of the hardest if not the hardest thing that man has ever done. But I staunchly believe that we're up to the task. After all, I know of no other time in human history that a community like this has existed-- a community designed to advance the art of human rationality and conquer the petty insanities that have doomed so many over the years, and a community that is organized using modern methods and draws from the principles of science and rationality to target those insanities precisely. As a result, this community is uniquely poised to strike out against insanity, against war, against death itself, and yes-- against "the system." For every system is composed of people, and if the people that make up that system come to understand that there is a better way, it will prove unable to hold itself up.

Yes, we are living in interesting times here (as the old curse goes), and participating in an exciting and indeed critical task-- the most important task ever confronted by mankind. I hope that you'll join us and come to be a part of it.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 December 2010 01:28:55PM 4 points [-]

This comment appeals to my aesthetics in a way I did not previously predict I could be appealed to. I think it should be tidied up a bit to make more sense out of context, and recorded as a speech in ringing tones and put on Youtube.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 30 December 2010 05:08:50PM 3 points [-]

Conspiracy theories are actually optimistic, not pessimistic.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And also: yes.

I suspect this is why they are popular: a belief in a coherent enemy is emotionally satisfying compared to a belief in a pervasive flaw.

Comment author: RobinZ 31 December 2010 07:30:59PM 2 points [-]
Comment author: katydee 01 January 2011 12:52:34AM 1 point [-]

I love it.

Comment author: Giriath 30 December 2010 12:49:17PM *  0 points [-]

I'm aware of what you say. I'm sorry if I didn't convey that in my previous comment. We won't solve the problem by simply removing those who are most greedy (they are there, of course, and always have been) from their positions of power, because we too, are greedy. Like you say, humanity has to become more aware and rational, and learn to cooperate, because we all live in symbiosis with each other and everything else in the universe(s). There are still those with a lot of power who for some reason fight against this for monetary gain though. But in the end, they rely on other people to keep their system(s) in place. If people start being rational and think about what they're being told to do, and how society functions, then they'll soon find themselves with much less power, no matter how much money they have.

I will certainly study human rationality, but I will also study what technology can do for our future, in projects like 'The Venus Project'. If I find these things promising and useful, I'll spread the knowledge of them to the best of my ability.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 December 2010 04:58:10AM 1 point [-]

Chapter 23: "lee...ders of the supernatural world" Ha! Yeah, I'm starting to like Jake really a lot.

Comment author: Giriath 28 December 2010 11:01:57AM 1 point [-]

Aro probably has more reasons to fear what Addy could do with her knowledge of his past actions and future plans than just his killing Didyme. I hope they find Bella soon. It seems like she would be essential in physically harming Renata, unless someone can injure her from outside her shield's effect range.

Comment author: [deleted] 22 December 2010 04:08:44AM 1 point [-]

Yay, new chapter!

Yay, Gianna and Maggie have a baby! It's kind of funny how cute those two are together, given that Maggie started off fairly horrifying. "Converting" Maggie might be Bella's greatest success (of course, she was helped a lot by the mate bond with Gianna).

I'm having to remind myself that Addy is still just as creepy and evil as she was when she was sending Elspeth to report for torture. Having her on "our" side is admittedly really useful.

Comment author: alethiophile 20 December 2010 04:37:52AM 1 point [-]

Chapter 19.

Interesting.

Since it took Elspeth a day to recover, how long would it take the vampires of the guard? Half the time? Less? I've never seen a hard number for how much more mentally able a vampire is than a half-vampire.

If Addy can be convinced to join a full rebellion against the Volturi, she could be quite a powerful asset. For one thing, she can copy Chelsea and break the enforced bonds; that would certainly cause enough havoc for a while, especially if Chelsea herself can be incapacitated beforehand. For that matter, how is Chelsea at self-defense? Could Chelsea!Del affect her in the same way so as to force her to their side, without her counteracting it? Somehow I doubt it; I would be surprised if Chelsea wouldn't just undo what was done immediately.

There's no real range limit on the wolves' telepathy, right? Previously it was mentioned that a test was conducted from the reservation to somewhere unspecified in Canada without any degradation in quality; can we assume from this that Jake is still in contact with the pack? Does Chelsea work on intra-pack membership bonds (i.e. could she make Jake's pack no longer his?)

Comment author: Alicorn 20 December 2010 01:24:29PM 1 point [-]

Since it took Elspeth a day to recover, how long would it take the vampires of the guard? Half the time? Less? I've never seen a hard number for how much more mentally able a vampire is than a half-vampire.

In terms of raw processing power, vampires are about twice as fast/capacious as half-vampires. There are a couple of not-quite-qualitative differences (e.g. native architecture to handle seeing ultraviolet) that give them an extra boost beyond that in this sort of thing.

how is Chelsea at self-defense?

Chelsea's not a primary combatant by any stretch of the imagination, but she is very old and a key member of an organization that some people really don't like. She is better than the average vampire at combat.

There's no real range limit on the wolves' telepathy, right?

Right.

can we assume from this that Jake is still in contact with the pack?

Jake, as an alpha, has full unrestricted telepathy with any member of his own pack while both he and said member are in wolf form. He can also talk (only voluntary messages, no accidental letting slip of other thoughts) to his sisters when he and either of them are in wolf form.

Does Chelsea work on intra-pack membership bonds (i.e. could she make Jake's pack no longer his?)

Pack membership isn't the same sort of thing that Chelsea does. She could make Jake's wolves more willing to voluntarily change packs, but not force it without their agreement.

Comment author: Larks 08 December 2010 09:29:32PM 1 point [-]

I really like the way the last few chapters have been writen - it's as if they've been writen by a different person (a snipped person). It's amazing how chilling an idyllic account can be.

Comment author: Giriath 08 December 2010 11:47:26PM *  1 point [-]

Yes. Like I said below it's been enough to make me wait for a while until there's enough updates that I can read straight through to happier times. If I don't then I feel queasy or enraged for quite a while after I've read the days chapter, and those are emotions I'd rather not have for very long. It's great writing Alicorn, but these recent chapters invoke these strong emotions in me and I'm currently unable to effectively mute them after I've read a chapter, so I won't be ranting here for a while. Maybe I'll save up enough content to have an extra huge rant, later on. ;)

Comment author: Jonii 01 December 2010 02:45:00PM 1 point [-]

Chapter 11:

Is Allirea + Eleazar thing canon? It sure doesn't seem to follow from what we've seen before, unless Eleazar lied to Bella.

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 03:37:16PM *  2 points [-]

Although Nahuel has sisters in canon, their details are made up, including Allirea'a power and therefore how Allirea interacts with Demetri, Eleazar, et al.

Note that Eleazar did get a reading off Bella, albeit a brief and incomplete one.

Comment author: Jonii 01 December 2010 03:49:11PM 3 points [-]

Yes, but that incomplete-one means that his power can't override powers others have. Even if he could, after paying attention to Allirea, understand her power, it doesn't follow from what we know of his powers up to now that he could pay attention to her any more than any other person there. Even some sort of power-detection field would fail to reveal other than "There's is vampire that diverts attention paid to it in that general direction", if we assume it overrides her ability, which would make Eleazar severely handicapped in a fight anyway.

Yeah, and I wanted to say that you're treating the characters you create in an awful and cruel way. Stop that. They should be happy at least once in a while :p

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2010 04:23:57PM 3 points [-]

Yes, but that incomplete-one means that his power can't override powers others have.

Oh yes it does. Everything Bella blocks, she blocks completely, unconsciously, whether or not she knows there's anything to block, one hundred percent of the time - except Eleazar.

In Allirea's case, she seems to Eleazar like the least important person there, and would probably compare unfavorably with a squirrel if one should uncharacteristically wander by. But he can notice her, can remember that she is present, and can take actions dependent on that knowledge. And one of the things he can remember about her is what she does, which gives him enough reason to mistrust this evaluation of her that he can clobber her in a fight. (Vampire v. half-vampire = no contest, just no contest, unless the half-vampire is Allirea and her power is in full effect against the vampire, even if the vampire is not very good at fighting.)

Yeah, and I wanted to say that you're treating the characters you create in an awful and cruel way. Stop that. They should be happy at least once in a while :p

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Fictional Characters, are we now? Sorry, I don't write that way. Happy endings aren't off the menu, necessarily, but happy middles are not my bag.

Comment author: shokwave 26 November 2010 02:16:46PM 1 point [-]

Ch 9.

I wonder what a full conversation between Elspeth and Elspeth!Adelaide would look like. Indeed, what would a touch-conversation look like?

Comment author: alethiophile 26 November 2010 06:11:21AM 1 point [-]

Chapter 9.

Heh. So Alice is alive too. The big question here, then, is the durability of Chelsea's influence on the witches. Will going back to Bella/Jasper and living with them as usual eventually reform the relationship bonds in question? It would be very odd if not; it would imply that Chelsea's power will permanently affect the vampire's ability to form an evaluation of the target in question, regardless of future experiences, and that's a bit more of a durable effect than is usual in this fic. If that is true, does Chelsea's power have a time limit?

Also, the wolves are still Chelsea'd to the Volturi. However, at least one imprint is free, and her wolf is quite able to split the pack in pursuit of her; I predict that a major feature of the presumable eventual plan to un-Chelsea the wolves will involve Elspeth speaking to Jacob. For that matter, what happened to the other imprints? If the Volturi have them, then that could torpedo that plan as regards all the imprinted wolves other than Jacob.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 November 2010 03:29:09PM 2 points [-]

reform the relationship bonds in question?

permanently affect the vampire's ability to form an evaluation of the target in question, regardless of future experiences, and that's a bit more of a durable effect than is usual in this fic. If that is true, does Chelsea's power have a time limit?

Chelsea changes the attitudes people have towards others. These revised attitudes are as durable as they would be if they'd formed naturally, once Chelsea is no longer touching them up on a regular basis. So, if she's completely destroyed an existing relationship, the participants in that relationship have to start from scratch, as it were.

There is no guarantee that what they build from scratch will resemble what Chelsea destroyed.

Comment author: Giriath 26 November 2010 12:25:02PM *  2 points [-]

How do you quote or make HTML in general in these comments? I've looked around in the FAQ but wasn't able to find out how.

Chelsea was/is working on the imprints too, presumably so that they won't want to leave and ask their respective wolf to take them away or attack the Volturi. Now this was a very sad chapter in my opinion, even though we learned Alice was alive (which I had previously had privately confirmed by Alicorn, so no surprise there for me) and she reunited with Jasper. The effects of Chelsea's witchcraft really hurts. It's much more interesting in this story than canon, where it's barely spoken about but hinted that it isn't all that powerful - at least that's the way I saw it. Maybe that's just because the main characters never had to be subjected to the effects of her power in canon though, and consequently we didn't get an opportunity to witness it and the reactions of the characters.

It's very sad that these characters who used to love Elspeth now see her as little more than a hindrance to getting to their mates as fast and safe as possible. It's possible that will change when they are reunited with their mates and given time, and the situation with Bella won't be as bad as Elspeth makes it out to be just because she suddenly loves her second-most. She does need to grow up and work on her relationship with Jacob whenever that time comes, but first she needs to grow out of her sheltered self who relies entirely on her 'mama'.

I really really want Bella to learn to expand her shield to others. It's possible that just doing that once will erase any lasting witchcraft effects such as Chelsea's, especially since witchcraft are relative to how their owners believe they work in this story, and Bella is a master of getting her mind to do what she wants it to.

If the Cullen's (with considerable help from others) manage to defeat the Volturi and create a new vampire 'government', then I can totally see Elspeth as the radiant public figure who everyone is willing to listen to and easily understand, while Bella is an advisor who rationalises plans and presents them to others on the new government. I figure it unlikely that such a government would be willing to enforce Bella's views on killing humans, though they might be amenable to encourage it or find other non-fatal ways to drink human blood or put effort in finding an equally satisfying substitute. A new government advocating non-violence and freedom after exposing the dirtier deeds of the Volturi could be very successful, especially with leading figures acquiring their positions because of their abilities to fill it, not because they seem themselves as the masters of the universe and demand a ruling position. Of course, there will be many looking to exploit the downfall of the Volturi to gain power, but with the many witches of the original rebellion and any others who might decide to join the new government, they will be very hard to defeat in combat or penetrate with less than sincere intentions.

I truly hope that is where the story is going: the defeat of the Volturi and the formation of a new vampire government. I also hope Alicorn writes about this and doesn't call it quits when the major confrontation is over, because it would be very interesting to read about the creation of the government and the world's reaction to it, and later conclude the story when things have settled somewhat.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 November 2010 05:27:34AM 1 point [-]

How do you quote or make HTML in general in these comments? I've looked around in the FAQ but wasn't able to find out how.

When you reply, there is a "help" link in the bottom right, to the right of the "Cancel" button.

Comment author: alethiophile 24 November 2010 05:01:28AM 1 point [-]

Chapter 8.

Surprise! Well, not actually surprise, given the usual dramatic cue of Bella never having found his jewelry in the ashes. Presumably, the vampire they burned there was Irina, who would have caused problems for the Volturi if they seemed to be in the way of not killing the wolves.

So in the future: Edward still has the mate bond to Bella, presumably, because it's stated somewhere (I think) that Chelsea is not powerful enough to harm that. Is Chelsea+Chelsea!Del enough? I somehow doubt it. In that case, if Edward can see Bella, then they will immediately align. So in the long term we probably don't have to worry about the psychologically-traumatised-Edward storyline, or at least he's unlikely to be killing people of it.

How does Chelsea's power work? It is stated that she killed all the relationships that the captive witches had with others; how does this affect their memories? Will Edward realise that Elspeth is his daughter? Will he if she tells him so, or shows him? Will his attachment to Bella spill over onto Elspeth and overcome the indifference-bomb? In any case, it seems to me that the best thing for Elspeth to do right now is (assuming she can get close enough) to immediately show Edward the highlights of Bella and Elspeth's life while he was captive, roughly: "Bella is alive", "I am your daughter", and "Bella wants me alive." This seems likely to get Edward out of any homicidal-vampire mode towards Elspeth, anyway. At that point, they can escape and finish the exposition later.

Comment author: Giriath 24 November 2010 11:06:58AM *  2 points [-]

Edward is probably completely indifferent to Elspeth right now, but as you said she simply needs to show him that Bella is alive and that she really wants Elspeth to be alive and well. She shouldn't have to show him this through visualization with her witchcraft; he can read her mind and she can talk with absolute sincerity. If he snaps out of it quick enough, he'll probably recognize the threat of Adelaide and either kill, incapacitate or keep her busy while Elspeth and Allirea flee.

The revelation that the Volturi can keep prisoners and make use of their witchcraft like this begs the question of who they have actually killed; is Alice alive perhaps? I'm not sure Elspeth would have time to recognize her in the pandemonium of the prisoners escape, and with all the potential witchcraft present (one could seemingly turn invisible), there's no telling how someone could help her escape unnoticed. Her witchcraft is very powerful so the Volturi would be interested in keeping her, but then again Jasper claims to have felt her die. She may have been considered too powerful and uncooperative to let live.

I think it's one of the Volturi's most stupid mistakes to have such a large collection of unwilling and vengeful witches in one place - and right in their base of operations, no less. Any enemy with knowledge of this and the capability of penetrating the castle and freeing the prisoners will have successfully detonated a bomb of witchcraft on them, and it's possible they're made more pliable by having almost all of their relationships wiped out, so it shouldn't be hard to persuade them to join a rebel army.

On a last note I must say that this story has the most interesting take on 'gifts' -or witchcraft as it's called in this story- of all supernatural Twilight stories I've read. None so far have been ridiculously powerful and they all have limits and counters. Best of all they can be explained and make sense within the Twilight universe. I'd often wondered how it was that Aro could process all the insignificant memories of a being thousand of years old in a mere few moments, and without affecting his own personality. Alicorn's take on that is more reasonable than that he would for example gain an extreme temporary boost in brain-capacity to make sense of all the intake while his gift is active, and this would very likely still affect his personality since he has in essence just experienced everything another individual has.

Comment author: shokwave 25 November 2010 08:22:52AM 2 points [-]

[Alice's] witchcraft is very powerful so the Volturi would be interested in keeping her, but then again Jasper claims to have felt her die. She may have been considered too powerful and uncooperative to let live.

I don't know about too powerful in the absolute sense, but I do know that her power would definitely let her escape. She could effectively brute-force a plan to escape by thinking about plans to escape. The cost to test a plan's chance of success is effectively nil for her - given enough time (minutes?) she could have a foolproof escape plan.

Plus, once she's escaped and now opposed to the Volturi, she could set up traps for Demetri and other hunters - traps that are basically guaranteed to work.

Comment author: Alicorn 25 November 2010 03:29:47PM *  2 points [-]

Remember that there are lots of people running around who completely blank out Alice's visions.

Comment author: alethiophile 30 November 2010 03:03:21AM 2 points [-]

Alice can probably still do a fairly good job of avoiding hunting parties, by deliberately and constantly forecasting on herself (and anyone else she wants to protect) and making some radical change if she sees herself (or other person) going blank for reasons not understood (such as if that person is hanging out around wolves/half-vampires anyway). It would be a security risk to do so, given that a blank Volturi hunting party would not make any different signature than a blank, friendly wolf or half-vampire.

I understand that in canon, Bella is able to shield others as well as herself. Would an Alice being so shielded be able to see wolves/half-vampires? That would be a convenient solution, so probably not.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 November 2010 03:05:47AM 1 point [-]

I understand that in canon, Bella is able to shield others as well as herself. Would an Alice being so shielded be able to see wolves/half-vampires?

No. This would almost certainly have been mentioned in canon if it were possible, so it's not.

Comment author: Giriath 25 November 2010 06:18:35PM *  2 points [-]

Yes. And should Alice be alive and out and about to the Volturi's knowledge, then they would probably try to send at least one of these people with every hunting group, to prevent any forewarning visions. I wonder if Alice's visions can't be affected the same as Bella's shield though. If she started believing she should be able to see the half-kinds in her visions would she? - any comments on that Alicorn?

Comment author: Alicorn 25 November 2010 06:44:22PM 1 point [-]

No public comments, no.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 November 2010 05:07:17PM 2 points [-]

I think it's one of the Volturi's most stupid mistakes to have such a large collection of unwilling and vengeful witches in one place - and right in their base of operations, no less.

It's definitely a risk, but it's also a huge power boost for them. Keeping them in the base seems logical to me (they should be under the heaviest possible guard and the closest possible supervision).

Really enjoyed the cliffhanger ending to this chapter.

Comment author: Schlega 27 November 2010 12:49:52PM 3 points [-]

There's no reason for them to reassemble all of the witches at the same time. It would still be stupid even if the room was full of guards. Having only a single point of failure preventing 16 powerful enemies from waking up in a room with only 2 defenders, plus any invisible enemies that might have been brought in, is the Biggest Ball of Idiot in Minnesota.

They knew Allirea hated Demitri, could turn invisible and could wake the witches just by touching Del. Yes, that would let Del get a sneak attack, but that would only last until she touched one of the other witches, or one of them touched her. Allirea only needed Elspeth because she couldn't rely on Chelsied vampires to cooperate with her plan to kill Demetri.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 November 2010 02:22:39PM *  3 points [-]

There's no reason for them to reassemble all of the witches at the same time. It would still be stupid even if the room was full of guards.

There actually is a reason, although it's one of convenience more than absolute necessity. To keep vampires alive while normally maintaining them in fragments, they need to be fed pretty often, and on a tight schedule if they want any safety margin. They can't just be kept in small immobile chunks indefinitely. It's quite a production to handle the healing-and-feeding phase (Alec or Alec!Adelaide needs to be available, you need to fill up whoever feeds them so their food doesn't get stolen by inadequately fed guards, you need to have extra food on hand for the witches themselves, etc.). Heidi has to make a bunch of trips for extra food. She has to range farther than usual to get it so there won't be too many concentrated disappearances all at once in the near environs of Volterra. This all takes a while. Someone else could take on some of the hunting duties, but except for Heidi!Adelaide, nobody is quite as well-equipped to unobtrusively bring in an entire delicious tour group all at the same time, and Adelaide usually has other people to copy and other tasks to accomplish. Every extra guard they put in the room is somebody they have to saturate with even more blood so they can handle being there.

The best candidate for the idiot ball action here is that they didn't time the capturing of Jacob's pack for when the witches had already just been fed and were in harmless bits and pieces.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 27 November 2010 02:35:02PM *  2 points [-]

If you amputate all the limbs, is that a problem for continued survival (assuming potential preservation of limbs is not relevant for Voltury)? Why do you need to attach limbs when feeding? Why must they be kept unconscious, if without limbs they can just be fixed in place, with no way of escaping? This won't necessarily be enough for the few abilities that could allow escape or sabotage even without moving, but that doesn't apply to, say, Edward, and without limbs the situation is strictly better in any case, while removing the limbs supposedly costs nothing.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 November 2010 02:40:54PM *  2 points [-]

They could move a little even without their limbs. If kept conscious and intact, they could talk to each other and coordinate, re-forming any relationships sufficient to escape with the creative use of their powers even over Chelsea's attempts to sever them. Edward in particular wouldn't be much of a danger this way, obviously, but they're adopting a consistent strategy for the entire group.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 November 2010 06:25:04PM 4 points [-]

Now you've gone and put all sorts of images of comical vampires into my mind.

They could move a little even without their limbs.

Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left.

Just a flesh wound.

What are you going to do, bleed on me?

I'm invincible!

Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!

Comment author: shokwave 27 November 2010 03:13:26PM 2 points [-]

What about some sort of iron maiden approach: a steel block with the vampire contained inside, one hole to their mouth to feed them, one hole near the leg or back or something so that Del could reach through and copy their power?

This gives the Volturi the advantage of portability: it wouldn't be easy to lug a hundred tons of steel around, but forklifts could allow relocation and such, or the transport of several vampires that Del needs to swap between on-site.

If there's a way of designing a cell so that a vampire can't use their teeth on it (as Elspeth appeared to have encountered) it should be doubly possible when the head is restrained.

You get to feed the captives less often, there's no need for special precautions around them, a prison-break from outside is definitely going to fail unless they bring serious cutting machinery (blowtorches, obviously, are right out).

It's also much, much crueler.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 November 2010 03:36:17PM *  2 points [-]

If there's a way of designing a cell so that a vampire can't use their teeth on it (as Elspeth appeared to have encountered)

A vampire could just dig out of Elspeth's cell. Elspeth is not a vampire, and cannot do that. The cell is specifically for half-vampires.

serious cutting machinery

...Like a vampire?

Comment author: wedrifid 27 November 2010 06:11:46PM 2 points [-]

serious cutting machinery

...Like a vampire?

Or a saw fashioned from the harvested teeth of disposable newborns! Actually biting through a few tons of steel myself seems rather undignified. :)

Comment author: wedrifid 27 November 2010 05:18:18PM *  2 points [-]

...Like a vampire?

Like a vampire without his teeth, jaw, hands or feet?

Constraining vampires is basically a trivial task given time to prepare. Their magic just isn't all that impressive compared to engineering. The confining-is-implausible rule is going to be one that is best supported by narrative decree (or idiot balls) than any real coherence with the physics.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 27 November 2010 02:45:10PM *  2 points [-]

That it's not in itself a complete solution, is not an argument about the security value of this precaution. They can't escape on their own if their limbs are destroyed or (say) stored on another continent.

They could move a little even without their limbs.

What of it, they should be kept in cells in any case.

If kept conscious and intact, they could talk to each other and coordinate,

Or kept in solitary cells.

they're adopting a consistent strategy for the entire group.

"Consistency" (simplicity, rather) is a poor argument for picking a bad strategy, making a possible disaster worse. If only 5 extra-witchy vampires escape, it's better than if all 16 vampires escape. It also expends more resources of maintenance. As you wrote:

It's quite a production to handle the healing-and-feeding phase (Alec or Alec!Adelaide needs to be available, you need to fill up whoever feeds them so their food doesn't get stolen by inadequately fed guards, you need to have extra food on hand for the witches themselves, etc.).

Comment author: Alicorn 27 November 2010 02:07:59PM 2 points [-]

They knew Allirea hated Demitri

They don't usually know this. She's usually too inconsequential for them to remember.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 November 2010 05:16:25AM 2 points [-]

how does this affect their memories?

Not at all. Chelsea doesn't alter memory or even personality, just adjusts how people evaluate other (non-mate, non-imprint) people as important or un-. Chelsea-plus-chelsea!Adelaide are faster and stronger, but the same basic rules apply (no snipping mate or imprint bonds, no creating new relationships without any foundation).

Comment author: alethiophile 22 November 2010 02:41:12AM 1 point [-]

New chapter (7).

Will you stop ending on cliff-hangers already!

Speculation: The stranger is Pera, turned; Elspeth has been somehow kept unconscious (maybe Alec, or just repeated blows to the head) for the three days required, and Pera's power evolved enough to make Elspeth not recognize her. It's a bit of a stretch. Maybe instead the stranger is just another Volturi witch? I don't think any of the so-far-named ones have had powers that let you do that. It's a bit annoying to keep having these new powerful witches introduced just in time for their powers to be used.

Props for the writing on Elspeth's reactions to the stranger. I did a few double-takes there, wondering if I had missed something.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 November 2010 02:45:12AM *  11 points [-]

Will you stop ending on cliff-hangers already!

No :P But I will keep updating on schedule so you don't have to wait forever for each cliffhanger to be resolved (...and immediately replaced).

Note: If anybody shares my love of spoilers, aversion to surprises, and hatred of the itch of not knowing what's next, you can contact me privately with questions and I will actually answer them, if you agree not to independently spread the information.

I don't think any of the so-far-named ones have had powers that let you do that.

The character and power have been named before, but one could be forgiven for forgetting them. (Pun intended.)

Comment author: cousin_it 22 November 2010 06:05:45AM 4 points [-]

Note: If anybody shares my love of spoilers, aversion to surprises, and hatred of the itch of not knowing what's next, you can contact me privately with questions and I will actually answer them, if you agree not to independently spread the information.

Wow. This is so awesome. I've never seen an author offer to do this before.

Comment author: alethiophile 22 November 2010 04:35:13AM 1 point [-]

No :P But I will keep updating on schedule so you don't have to wait forever for each cliffhanger to be resolved (...and immediately replaced).

And that is the great frustration.

Don't get me wrong. It's a great story, and I thank you for writing it.

The character and power have been named before, but one could be forgiven for forgetting them. (Pun intended.)

Would it be too spoilerish for you to point me in the direction of the reference? (Am I correct in assuming that once I saw it I would recognize it? I don't feel like rereading all of Luminosity and Radiance at this time.)

Comment author: Alicorn 22 November 2010 04:40:09AM 2 points [-]

See chapter 21 of (condensed) Luminosity, and chapter 1 of Radiance. I don't know enough about your skill at catching stuff to know if you will catch it.

Comment author: alethiophile 22 November 2010 07:32:48AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the reply. The only common thread I can see between Luminosity 21 and Radiance 1 is Joham, and I can't see any mention of his power. Maybe I'm just missing it.

Comment author: Giriath 22 November 2010 12:44:16PM *  1 point [-]

It seems you are. Nahuel's eldest sister is mentioned to have witchcraft that diverts notice from herself by becoming uninteresting, so the stranger is probably her. Again I wonder how the Volturi captured her. Jasper said the Volturi had one of Nahuel's sisters with them to block Alice's vision of the attack, so either that was her or they searched for Joham and captured some or all of the sisters. If the eldest sister has been in Volturi possession for over five years, then maybe she recently did something that got her sent to the cells, or she got captured recently and isn't willing to cooperate.

As old as she is, she probably has a pretty good grasp on her witchcraft, so if it's possible then she should be able to escape by herself, if not then perhaps Elsepth can help her. It will be interesting to see what kind of personality you have going for her. In canon I think it's said that Joham has made them think of themselves as goddesses, although that belief may have been stunted by their capture and - I presume, Joham's death.

I read the first chapter of Radiance again and I assume the only reference to the stranger is that Alicorn provides names for Nahuel's sisters for the first time: Allirea, Noemi and Iseul.

Comment author: Randaly 18 November 2010 03:08:36AM 1 point [-]

Am I the only one who, having not actually read Twilight, thought that the character of Eleazar was a shoutout to Eliezer?

Comment author: Alicorn 18 November 2010 03:10:33AM 1 point [-]

Before I introduced the (canon) character Eleazar, I actually posted a comment stating that he was canon to forestall exactly this reaction.

Comment author: mjr 17 November 2010 11:18:47AM 1 point [-]

Glad to see Luminosity continuing on (the quite insanely productive) schedule.

Speaking of insane, Pera is quite a munchkin, but yeah, wouldn't have much of a resistance anymore without something like her what with the shitstorm that was the end of episode one, ergo not much of a story.

Sounds like they should try hiding stuff overlapped with other stuff. I mean, sure, it could have explosive consequences, but hey, nothing too funny happens when it comes to interaction with the displaced air, so it's probably not too dangerous. And if it's dangerous only to the subject, it'd be insanely good for picking out Volturi.

...so I doubt that, would suspect some sort of compelentary displacement going on automatically as a safety feature - it'd be too easy otherwise. Though, could one embed a vamp into a hidden steel block? If the whole block would shift back, what would happen with a hidden pile of earth? One would suspect that for storytelling reasons it'd just fail if there was lots of solids overlapping.

Which still leaves one with the possibility to create steel enclosures where a vamp fits in, place them strategically and/or lure the subject in and tap them on the back. Should be able to keep one restrained long enough for a good flamethrower job, yes?

'course, the opposition, if in group, has the option for immediate indirect attacks covering the area, but seems to me like a relatively solid, if limited, offensive regardless.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 November 2010 01:42:37PM 4 points [-]

Speaking of insane, Pera is quite a munchkin, but yeah, wouldn't have much of a resistance anymore without something like her what with the shitstorm that was the end of episode one, ergo not much of a story.

She seemed like just about the minimum entity I could postulate and still have Jacob's pack running around as they were.

Comment author: wedrifid 17 November 2010 11:30:36AM 1 point [-]

Speaking of insane, Pera is quite a munchkin

I say it's insane not to be a munchkin! :)

Comment author: Jonii 10 November 2010 03:08:44AM 1 point [-]

I wish this sequel had long phase where things just flow peacefully. First chapter was fun, but I fear that things are gonna get messy after that sort ending.

Comment author: Jonii 10 November 2010 04:58:53AM 2 points [-]

Read chapter 2.

Oh dear.

Comment author: CronoDAS 29 October 2010 05:18:17AM 1 point [-]

Is the Chapter 57 that's up now the official ending?

Comment author: Alicorn 29 October 2010 12:52:16PM 3 points [-]

Yes, but there will be a sequel. The first chapter of the sequel will go up on Monday, November 8, and update on the same schedule that Book One did.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 October 2010 05:01:11AM *  1 point [-]

Would someone be so kind as to message me what this apparent 'twist' is? I don't remember much as far back as chapter 25 and can't think of anything in particular that would be required by that circumstance that would make me overwhelmed with awe, hint or no hint. (And if spoilers were good enough for Shakespeare's prologue's then they are good enough for me!)