The Paradigm of Uncertainty

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For the Yahoo! Group, see ParadigmOfUncertainty.

Title: The Paradigm of Uncertainty
Author(s): Lori Summers
Date(s): c. April 2000 - September 2000
Length: 15 chapters / 121,492 words
Genre: het romance, action, mystery
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: The Paradigm Of Uncertainty at FictionAlley
ParadigmOfUncertainty at Yahoo! Groups

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The Paradigm of Uncertainty is an early Harry/Hermione fanfic by Lori Summers, now known as Madlori.

It is the first story of a trilogy, followed by The Show That Never Ends and The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The latter remains unfinished.

"The Paradigm of Uncertainty" is one of the powerhouse Harry Potter fics of early 2000s, written when Harry Potter fandom was still quite new, and fans were clustering and swarming in many ways that would define much of the fandom later.

A fan wrote:
This fic is the first part of an ongoing story arc that covers the lives of Harry, Hermione, and their friends in the decade after graduation from Hogwarts; while her writing and plotting are tighter and better in her current WIP, Hero With A Thousand Faces, PoU really sets the standard for action, drama, mystery, romance and magic through its spot-on characterisations, canon synergy and overall writing.[1]

The fic was an influence and inspiration for a number of other early classics in Harry Potter fandom, including Cassandra Claire's Draco Trilogy and the Trouble in Paradise series by Ebony Thomas.

"The Paradigm of Uncertainty" had its own Yahoo! Group called ParadigmOfUncertainty which is a public archive.


Harry Potter Fandom

The Paradigm of Uncertainty was one among a number of powerhouse Harry Potter fics of the time. In the early 2000s, Harry Potter fandom was still quite new, and fans were clustering and swarming in many ways, creating norms and practices that would define much of the fandom later. One of these gathering points were a group of highly admired stories by a group of well-known Harry Potter writers. These stories, posted as serials, had many fans at the edge of their seats waiting for installments.

A fan wrote in 2001:
... I went and read through the files and I found one that has all these posts that our Idols, the Goddesses Lori, Cassie, Penny, Carole and Queen Ebony wrote early in their FanFiction Careers. It was so cool. I've been feeling a bit inferior because I have major writer's block and I just read all this wonderful stuff by our pantheon so.... But Like it has a message that Cassie wrote about posting her first story and she was worried that it wasn't that good or something (never think that Cassie, you're wonderful) And I realized (sorry Goddesses) that they're all human too. I just had to laugh at some of the original ship preferences and ideas and the ideas that were born and then incorperated into their stories. [2]

Reactions and Reviews

Good lord... This is just amazing! This story is so captivating; I always had a feeling of 'what's going to happen next'. It's very well written. I love the tiny jokes made in it, the sensitivity, the sex scenes, the action scenes, the whole plot... I had trouble sometimes following what was happening, but that's probably because I was too tired when reading Anyway, can't wait to start on the next fic. Oh, And keep the stories coming Lori! You're an amazing writer! [3]

About once a year, I return to FictionAlley and read your trilogy. Ever since you first posted them to this site, I've come back, expecting to enjoy myself a little less each time and every time I'm surprised by how instead I've come to love them more with each reading. Your trilogy is part of the Harry Potter cannon in my mind. Though it seems a little blasphemous to say it, I enjoy your version more than J.K. Rowling's own ending. When I think of all of my favorite fictional characters, included among Fox Mulder, Mr. Darcy, and Gregory House is your character, Napoleon Jones. If ever you become a published author, please use Napoleon, because he will always have a place in my heart!

Thank you for all of the time and effort that you spent telling this most wonderful of stories. It's been somewhere around eight years and it's still entertaining me and making me smile! [4]

Of course, I had a tremendous amount of fun reading PoU. Surprisingly, it didn't have as much of a page-turning I-can't-stop- reading-because-I-have-to-find-out-what-happens-next effect as some other fics I've read. However, the actual time I spent reading it was rather enjoyable, even if I was able to put it down.

One of the difficulties in reviewing this series is that with regard to certain elements, the books vary widely in quality, whereas in other characteristics they are uniform. I will mention the variation where it comes into play.

The central element of my review is this, and it has nothing to do with the quality of PoU: I firmly believe that PoU IS NOT HARRY POTTER FAN FICTION. Let me explain. The characters, the story, the focus, the style, and the themes, are so vastly different, so changed from JKR's original, that in reality, the only important characteristics they share are the names and some of the places. However, this is not a knock on PoU, it's a compliment. Nor does this imply that it is in any way inconsistent with canon (it is but only slightly). Lori can simply use the space of 12 years in between her novels and JKR's to explain away any an all contradictions. It's even logical. Of course people change in 12 years. However, even if what she writes is a possible developement of canon, because it is so distant from canon, and developed in such a radically different direction, it is an wholely original work despite the fact that there aren't any technical inconsitencies. For instance, the characters are vastly, vastly, different from their canon selves. Lori's confident, openly powerful, Mage-Harry, is very different from JKR's insecure Harry. Lori's Hermione is a kick-butt secret agent, whereas JKR's Hermione can barely slap Malfoy. Furthermore, JKR's Hermione would have been absolutely thrilled in the academic world and never would have left. She certainly never would have taken on physical combat with such aplomb. Lori's Ron becomes, essentially, JKR's Hermione. Ginny goes from being timid to being a cosmopolitan fashion diva (OK, yes, it seems more believable now that Ginny made that tranformation in OotP and HBP but it's still hard to imagine her as a fasion diva). George goes from being a cheshire cat to Martha Stewart. Sirius goes from sneaky prankster to mature statesman(at least if we disregard Penny and Carole's side fices). While of course, Lori's explanations for these changes are reasonable, that doesn't change the fact that because the changes are so huge, they are no longer derivative of the original canon characters. To give a simple and extreme example, if I wrote a Superman story, and the backround of it was that he lost all his powers and has now become a reclusive, mute eskimo, it may be technically consistent with Superman canon as I've alterted it, but it has strayed so far from canon in it's characters and focus that it's not a Superman story. Furthermore, several of the characters that feature heavily in JKR's original are dead or absent. Dumbledore, Hagrid, Snape, McGonnogal, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasely are all MIA or nearly so. Come to think of it, Ginny's pretty MIA also (subtle anti-Ginny/anti-H/G bias? You decide). Hogwarts, the focus and setting of almost of all of canon, is almost completely absent.


Unusually for fanfiction, Lori's writing is clear and succinct, and we always have a clear picture of what she is trying to tell us. Her character and scenery descriptions are clean and crisp, if somewhat simplistic. The writing never seems confusing or amateurish (except for the beginning of the first book, more on that later). Almost all of the events in the series take place in new locations, and they all come to life in Lori's hands, particularly Bailicroft and ID headquarters. The story is consistent throughout, and it reads like a set of novels, not a serial. Lori clearly has most things set out well in advance.

As far as plot is concerned, it's a mixed bag. The premise comes across as really corny at first. Harry Potter as James Bond? Wizard spies? Lori's portrayal of an intelligence unit is laughable. Not that I'm a tremedous expert on spies, but just from reading public information, it really is silly.


Where it comes to romantic elements of the plot however, there is not contest and no comparison. Harry and Hermione's relationship is clearly the true point of this story, and it comes across extremely well. We feel their ups and downs, and really empathize with every aspect of their relationship. I could go on forever about how well Lori portrays their relationship, but I'll just have to leave it at that. I have a few quibbles, like the fact there is no romantic confusion or tension really, it's all very clear from the beginning that they are "meant" for each other. I hate the fact that almost all fanfics have one ship clearly, from the beginning, with no tension or suspense. There was the separation in STNE, but it was very clear even through that that they would get back together. Also, I get the feeling that Harry loves Hermione more than she loves him. I don't think Harry would under any circumstances have abandoned Hermione the way she did him in STNE after he woke up. Harry would have stayed with her no matter what. And he never would have intentionally kept a secret like what she did about being chairman for so long after they already were in a relationship. He hid his job from her, but that was before they fell in love. In any case, Lori presents a very detailed and complex relationship, and it makes Harry and Hermione seem very real. The side relationships and issues are also well done (e.g. Napolean's crush on Hermione, Harry's issues with Allegra, Laura and Ron, Remus and Diz, etc.). All in all, the best fanfiction portrayal of a relationship I've seen.

[snipped] [5]
PoU is, IMHO, the *best* HP fanfic out there, and like Ebony I don't think it's even remotely a Danielle Steele romance. [6]

Wow.. What a terrific story. I'd just finished "Trouble in Paradise" and was completely stressed out and depressed over it, and this story had just the happy (though suspenseful) ending that I needed in order to recover.

Happy Rambling -

Love Hermione throughout. Harry's very in character. Sex scenes were very tasteful. First kiss/carrying up the stairs thing had me practically bawling. Sirius/Harry interaction was VERY touching. Yay for having a gay character, even if he was just the staple queer - but any representation of the queer wizarding community is good representation! Allegra's intense. Nice code-naming.. Antigone, Isis, Roman.. Thanks for saving Remus, we all worry about him. Poor dead Ron.. . you addressed the issues surrounding him very sensitively. I hate white kids with braided hair - but Draco's still a badass hottie. Quinn was awesome. Laura too. We didn't get enough George! What's the deal with the librarian?

Realize that was all out of order and I'm sure I left out about 98% of the things I was thinking from chapter to chapter.. sorry, lazy reviewer, I am. But I adored this story. Very nice. [7]

any fic that makes me cry is ALWAYS worth of high praise....this one managed in no less then twice - once, when Harry was telling Hermione about finding Ron, and the second time, when he proposed. kudos! <sniff>

and so, a happy ending - sort of, for my two heroes? i have my hunches about the identity of the Master, but hey, having been made to like Quinn/Hate Quinn/Like Quinn again I guess anything is possible in a Lori story!

well written, well-thought out and it ended with not a few tears shed! my fave kind of story! [8]

Discussing the Genre

PoU is correctly classified as a mystery (could also go under action or drama easily enough. PoU has a strong romance subplot, no question that. But, it is primarily a mystery in my mind. [9]
Oh, I'll go ahead and 'me too' that... why not (*grins about [it being] the 'H/H Bible' term... I think I remember seeing that.*) While the romance subplot is central to both PoU and ASA neither one of them is "only" romance and I think PoU is correctly classified as a mystery. While ASA has both romance and a mystery plotline, I would probably characterize it as drama since it deals with all sorts of relationships, not just romantic ones... although as Ebony pointed out there are all sorts of love and a story lacking in any sort of love at all would be pretty tedious. There might not be much in the way of romantic love in canon at this point, but there's plenty of other love to keep it interesting... Harry's mother's love for him, Sirius' love for his friends and for Harry, Harry and Hermione and Ron's friendship for each other approaches love IMHO. [10]

Other Recs & Reviews

Fanworks of PoU

Fanfiction Influenced by "The Paradigm of Uncertainty"

External Links


  1. fave recs part deux, Archived version (unknown date)
  2. Corinne:untitled post, June 29, 2001, a day after Cassandra Claire was banned from for plagiarism
  3. comments by Eldarwenn333 at Schnoogle, Archived version (August 19, 2006)
  4. comments by Kinoryo at Schnoogle, Archived version (March 25, 2009)
  5. from a MUCH longer review at SPOILERS: PoU- Review of the Whole Darned Thing, October 2005 review and discussion, comments by the author, at ParadigmOfUncertainty
  6. comment by Penny Lisenmayer on December 28, 2000 at HP4GU
  7. MissMona at Schnoogle, Archived version (November 4, 2001)
  8. Words at Schnoogle, Archived version (May 21, 2002)
  9. comment by Penny Linsenmayer on December 28, 2000 at HP4GU
  10. comment by Cassandra Claire on December 29, 2000 at HP4GU
  11. Available 28 Dec 2012 (archived by Profile as archived by the Wayback Machine.
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