Dark Lord's Answer by Eliezer Yudkowsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Dark Lord will answer whatever question you most need answered, but the answer you receive might not appear good in itself. The Dark Lord's Answer will always be instrumentally good, but your conscience may cause you to hesitate before following through with the implementation.
Yudkowsky does an excellent job of setting up a fascinating story here, but he fails at following through. The genre is rational fiction, but good rational fiction should not be as explainy as this is. At times, the text just isn't light enough, and a reader who isn't already familiar with economics might consider the book too preachy. I'm reminded of bad educational video games from the 1990s; it's a lesson wrapped up in a shell of entertainment -- except it's not entertaining if you don't want to learn the material.
If you are already moderately knowledgable about economics, then this is an interesting read. The setting is great; the characters are great; the way the characters solve problems is great. But after finishing the too short text, all I can think about is how I wanted the story to be more about the Dark Lord, and less about the intricacies of the main problem that the Dark Lord solved in the book.
If you like rational fiction, read this book. It's short and it has great ideas that make it worthwhile. If you already know some economics, then you won't get too put out by the explainy sections, which is a bonus.
But if you don't know economics, then this book will feel as preachy as Ayn Rand, but without the length nor inanity. If you haven't read rational fiction before, then this is not a good starting point. Try The Sword of Good by the same author instead.
I give it three stars because I liked it more than most short books, but it's at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to rational fiction.
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