My favorite three questions are, Luminosity
What do I want?,
What do I have?, and How can I best use the latter to get the former?
Actually, I'm also fond of
What kind of person am I?, but that one isn't often directly relevant to decision making on a day-to-day basis.
—Bella establishing her character.
is a Twilight rational fanfic
by Less Wrong
contributor Alicorn, available here
or in a slightly less well-edited form here
The story begins with same set-up as the Twilight
books; however, Bella is, as opposed to her canon self, an extremely introspective rationalist who is constantly investigating the reasons for her thoughts. The first lines of the story detail that a bit.
Some of the original plot remains intact early on, but by the time the first book ends, Bella's different decisions have stacked to the point that the plot is completely unrecognizable. The author has finished a sequel, Radiance
, also available here
, and a series of seventeen short stories called "Flashes".
There is an active Luminosity discussion thread
There are even some Recursive Fanfiction stories
set in the same continuity, one finished, Never Forgotten
and one ongoing: Sky
Alicorn is cooperatively writing / roleplaying a set of Luminosity crossovers called Effulgence and Incandescence
. She is also currently writing a series called Elcenia
See If Bella Were Sane
for this fic's Lighter and Softer
, Denser and Wackier
Provides examples of:
- Accidental Pun
- Affably Evil: Most of the Volturi's lower-ranking members, but most notably Addy.
- Alien Catnip: Vampires react this way to human blood.
- Alternate Universe Fic
- All There in the Manual: Luminosity's website has a well-updated page to keep track of the Loads and Loads of Characters. It also has information not stated in the fic, such as that David's last name is Baxter.
- Ascended Extra: Many characters, including Gianna, Rachel, and Santiago.
- Author Tract: The fic is designed to explain the concept of "luminosity", i.e. self-awareness.
- Or it was, until the plot got in the way. Now it's mostly just a story.
- Badass Boast: Delivered by Elspeth of all people in Chapter 49 of Radiance.
"That's right. I am the princess of the Golden Empire. I can erase a human personality with my thoughts. I remember more centuries of experiences than you can even count. I can resurrect the dead. And you are going to calm down and listen to me."
- Bad Liar: Elspeth, sort of. She's so good at telling the truth, due to her power, that people notice when she stops.
- Bald Women: Bella. Overlaps with Bald of Awesome because the reason she's like that is because vampire hair grows extremely slowly, and Bella's survived being set on fire twice.
- Barrier Warrior: Bella is a mental version and Renata is a physical version.
- Berserk Button: You really shouldn't interrupt Bella when she's speaking.
- It's notable that as an application of her luminosity, Bella controls this so well that it really isn't noticeable, even when she's a newborn vampire and could more or less kill anyone.
- Also, Siobhan and using the wrong name for "these isles".
- Blatant Lies: These become a plot point in Radiance, chapter 8.
- Brutal Honesty: Bella's policy towards herself. She admits she is attracted to Edward for shallow reasons like his good looks and his wealth, which enables her to avoid needless romanticizing.
- Elspeth's Magic's policy toward everything.
- Buffy Speak: All non-ancient characters use this to some degree, but especially Bella, Elspeth, and Cody Clearwater.
- Calling Me a Logarithm: Bella explains in Chapter 1 one reason why she doesn't use her notebook in front of her peers.
I'd been cured of that particular hypergraphic urge when a classmate of mine in the eighth grade had looked over my shoulder, been confused by my description of her as "wee", and thrown the notebook into a lavatory puddle.
- Catchphrase: Chelsea constantly thinks 'Everyone must love me.'
- Cerebus Syndrome: The story definitely gets darker towards the end, including character deaths.
- Cessation of Existence: What Edward believes will happen to all vampires if they are killed, in contrast to humans, who get an afterlife. Bella, on the other hand, thinks that no afterlife exists, even for humans.
- Clone by Conversion: Elspeth's power turns out to be capable of doing this by implanting thousands of memories into a given person. While vampires can handle this, humans end up with big problems .. and as it turns out, with a bit of makeup, it's not to hard to mislead them as to which set of memories are their own.
- Continuity Nod: The repetition of the phrase "informed of things" from Chapter 17 of "Luminosity" in Chapter 48 of "Radiance", and stated as the official term in the fourteenth Flash.
- Creepy Child: Yes, apparently, as of the latest Flash, Adelaide always was that creepy.
- Christmas Episode: Sparkmas.
- Curse Cut Short: By way of lightning powers.
- Despair Event Horizon: Vampires who lose their mates approach this, a few cross it.
Edward promised me that it wouldn't bother Esme that some of her furniture would need replacing. We arranged to be out, swimming around in the warm water, when the cleaning crews came through to pick up the remains of feather pillows and the splinters of bedframes.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Most of the many turns for the worse for the protagonists are logical consequences of events set in motion earlier, but Pera turning out to be Bella's singer at the worst possible moment is clearly this.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Common side effect of the mate bond when the vampire mates first meet.
- Domestic Abuse: Allirea gets an especially horrifying version from Demetri.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
I still usually can't remember my dreams, but I'm told, and have every reason to believe, that they are happy ones.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Bella talks about the lack of realism this trope has in chapter 3.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Elspeth, Princess of the Golden Empire
- Exact Words: One side effect of Elspeth's power is that she is a bad liar. She gets around this several times with half-truths, technically accurate but misleading statements, and the truth that could easily be mistaken for metaphor.
"My interest is... professional," I said, choosing my words carefully. "I'm not a relative, but I'm not some random person off the street who wants to stare, either. I've seen symptoms like theirs before, although not so prolonged."
She raised an eyebrow at me. "You look seventeen."
"You're more than a decade off," I told her.
- Exposition Beam: Elspeth eventually learns how to do this.
- Extreme Doormat: Pera.
- Fantastic Slur: Leech for vampire, as in the Twilight books.
- Faceless Eye: Aro keeps one of these on a necklace. Even creepier is the fact that it belongs to Marcus
- Faux Affably Evil: Aro fits, he is powerhungry and does nothing to hide it, also he has a tendency of killing everyone that slights him even a little bit as seen with the immortal children. Still, Bella notes that he does behave like a doting uncle when he gives her Gianna (to eat) and has an annoying tendency to refer to people by unwanted endearments even while sentencing them to death as shown with the Denalis mother.
- For Science!: Addy claims to be motivated by this, but until the fall of the Volturi, she seems equally likely to be a Hidden Agenda Villain.
Addy: Until and unless you actually try to leave, I'm not going to interfere. I'm a student of witchcraft. If you can learn to beat Chelsea, well, wouldn't that be interesting?
- For Want of a Nail: As noted earlier, at the beginning of the fic, the main divergence from Twilight canon is that Bella has a different personality - there are also characters introduced who don't exist and Chelsea is more powerful than she's implied to be in Twilight - most other of the departures from canon happens as direct result of Bella's decisions.
- "It would be sort of hard to have the Volturi after us more than they already are. I mean, I guess it's technically possible, we could kill one of their wives or something," he mused.
- Not to mention carefully selecting truths to avoid Maggie could be taken as foreshadowing for Elspeth's power.
- Regarding Nathan's power:
"Nathan, the one from the Isle of Man, is [a witch]," I told her, "but he won't say what it is that he does."
"That's obnoxious," my mother pronounced. "Is he planning to enlighten us at any point in the future?"
- The Generic Guy: David, the poor bastard. In Radiance he gets a personality, and comes off more as a Nice Guy with Only Sane Man tendencies.
- Genre Savvy: Bella realizes her life is like a romance novel.
- Guile Heroine: The main difference is that Bella is this.
- Has Two Mommies: Maggie and Gianna eventually have a daughter named Molly. Suffice to say, the frozen embryos paid off.
- Have You Tried Not Being A Vampire: Discussed in Chapter 24.
- Healing Factor: As per Twilight canon, vampires have this. Also the wolves, and hybrids.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power:
- Elspeth’s power grew in this direction.
- Also, Allirea's witchcraft. She's briefly mentioned in Luminosity, where it's said that she can divert notice from herself. She doesn't actually make herself invisible, just uninteresting. Probably not useless, but nowhere near as cool as, say, Alice's magic. And then you actually meet her.
I peered at him. He looked like he was in pain, but I hadn't hurt him, he hadn't touched the door, I would have heard if he'd hit himself against the stone of the cell... I supposed he could have had a heart attack, but that didn't seem likely in someone his age. The drops of his blood perfuming the air didn't have any scent of disease on them. It was peculiar, really. The only thing that had happened to him since he'd started his description of Heidi was that the stranger in the cell had sunk her teeth into his neck and started sucking his blood.
- Marcus's power to see relationships doesn't get a great deal of use in canon, and is often mocked by the fandom or hatedom. In Luminosity, Marcus is a lynchpin for the Volturi — according to Elspeth, losing Marcus would make the Volturi fragment within weeks. It also happens to be a way to notice Allirea's presence, if only indirectly. He also was effectively immune to Chelsea's power, but then Didyme died and he stopped caring.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: According to Elspeth, Vladimir and Stefan are without mates, but they've spent the last few millenia hanging around each other.
- I Taste Delicious
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the chapters in book two are words for a person, ending in an "er" sound. (Liar, Runner, etc.). The thirty-fifth chapter went as far as to invent the word "genealoger" in order to fit this pattern (the actual word is "genealogist").
- If It's You, It's Okay: Invoked by Victor, a gay werewolf who gains a female imprint. This is explained in Chapter 6 of "Radiance". (The actual imprinting is mentioned in Chapter 21 of "Luminosity".)
- Immortality Begins at Twenty: Somewhere around there at least. Werewolves and half-vampires grow to maturity then live forever.
- Immortality Hurts: In Radiance, the Volturi keep several vampires disassembled for easy storage. Including Edward and Alice.
- Immortal Life Is Cheap: See above.
- Immortality Inducer: Take a human, add some venom in the bloodstream and you have an immortal vampire in three days.
- Immortality Seeker: Bella. Her ultimate goal is this for everyone.
- Interspecies Romance: Bella/Edward, and werewolf/imprint relationships, from Twilight itself. Several vampire/human relationships, hence the existence of hybrids, who tend to have relationships with members of the other species.
- It's a Small World After All: Pera and Razi just happen to be mates.
- Kill It with Fire: Probably the best way to kill a vampire.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Jacob, talking to some vampires who are on his side about some vampires who aren't:
I want those lee
...ders of the supernatural world gone.
- Lesbian Vampire: Maggie is a lesbian and a vampire, but otherwise doesn't fit the archetype. Rather than a sultry seductress, she's only interested in finding true love. Which she does, in Gianna.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Gianna. To the extent nobody even suspected she was gay.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: Bella does not understand why anyone wouldn't want to live forever.
- Living Lie Detector:
- Maggie. Elspeth is an inversion.
- Elspeth can also play this straight, but needs time and guesswork.
- Love at First Sight: Both vampires and werewolves are biologically subject to this.
- Mad Love: Demetri loves Allirea, and does not understand that she doesn't love him back until right before he is killed.
- Mayfly-December Romance: All the human imprints and male werewolves with be striken with this unless the imprints turns. Which would cause other problems.
- Meaningful Echo: Vampires and shapeshifters agree, vampire bites are not fun.
- Mind Rapist: Chelsea. To a heartbreaking extent. Also Elspeth, of all people, if briefly.
- Mood Whiplash: Any vampire without his/her mate will approach/cross the Despair Event Horizon. Any vampire with his/her mate is euphoric. This happens.
- Mythology Gag: According to Addy, Bella's magic tastes like apple.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Most of the decisions Bella and Elspeth make have directly contributed to the continued worsening of the situation. This finally starts to turn around towards the later chapters of Radiance.
- Never Found the Body: Incinerating a vampire doesn't leave behind much of a corpse.
- Not Growing Up Sucks: The immortal children kept and later killed by Aro are a heartbreaking example. So is Alec, eternally fourteen and likely unable to mate due to his youth even after his twin sister, who has basically been his sun and moon for centuries, is killed, leaving him totally alone in the world and extremely unlikely to make new friends.
- Note to Self: one of the defining traits of this version of Bella is that she records, organizes and analyzes her own thoughts. After she becomes a vampire and has extreme difficulty remembering her mortal life, these records are very helpful in allowing her to recover much of it.
- Siobhan uses this, as a way to get around Allirea's power.
- Offered the Crown: Bella was made empress because Siobhan, the one that actually won the throne, did not want to deal with the hassle, and no one else was interested.
- Becoming “queen of the world” was actually Bella’s plan from the time she found out about the Volturi early on in Luminosity. It just ended up taking way, way more time, heartbreak, and effort to get there because of the huge hole in her original plans.
- Older Than They Look / Younger Than They Look: Werewolves and half-vampires age rapidly to their early/mid-twenties, then stay that age forever. The story includes people on both sides of twenty looking about the same.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Elspeth offers to provide some in chapter 52 of "Radiance". Which leads to some amusement when they discover she doesn't really have a deep enough voice for the purpose.
- Omniglot: Many immortals, including Bella and Elspeth.
- Our Souls Are Different: Edward thinks so.
- Our Vampires Are Different: In Twilight tradition.
- Pet the Dog: Santiago does this a couple times; it's stated she's been teaching children how to dance.
- Power Copying: Addy can copy the powers of any witch by touching them.
- Power of Love: Mate bond and impriting both are immune to magical manipulation, or otherwise react differently to magic.
- Power Perversion Potential: "Among the enhanced vampire senses is touch."
- Primal Scene: Radiance, Chapter 20: "I remember my parents' honeymoon!"
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: If you don't read Radiance, then the first book's ending may come off as this. It's more accurately a "What Now?" Ending.
- Rapunzel Hair: Elspeth, due to her mother's "neuroses", and the fact that her hair grows "like bamboo," usually has hair down to her ankles; It's often pointed out how amazing it is that she can work with it.
- Really 700 Years Old: vampires, natch.
- Red String of Fate: The vampire mate bond, the wolf imprint.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Chapter 31 of Radiance, Elspeth delivers one to Demetri. Due to the nature of her power, it results in a Critical Hit.
- The Remnant: Vladimir and Stefan. Their regime governed the vampiric world until the Volturi destroyed it, allowing them to live as a novelty. Thousands of years later, they're still very eager to see their usurpers destroyed.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Alice predicts some form of this as a possibility, should Marcus ever find out about Aro's betrayal.
- Running Gag: discussing unimportant things. Specifically, the very-not-unimportant but Unusually Uninteresting Sight Allirea.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: "Among the enhanced vampire senses is touch."
- Society of Immortals: The Golden Coven is working to create one.
- Shrinking Violet: Pera.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Leah and Seth fit. Ilario and Gianna on the other hand are an aversion, particularly in their tastes in romantic partners.
- Spiritual Successor: The fic is attempting to do something similar to the Twilight series as Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality does with Harry Potter. Luminosity's author is a part of the same community blog, Less Wrong, as Methods Of Rationality's author Eliezer Yudkowsky.
- Spy Speak: Several instances; for example, Bella has a coded conversation with Billy Black about vampires and werewolves.
- Stalker with a Crush:
- Chelsea was a particularly monstrous one in the past. Obsessed with one particular boy, she severed his ties with his family with her power, ate the entire family and bound him to her before turning him.
- Demetri is a vampire, and loves Allirea. However, as a half-vampire, Allirea is not subject to the vampire mate bond (and therefore doesn't automatically love him back), and she's not human, so he can't turn her into a full vampire (which would make her love him). Allirea hates Demetri.
- Actually every vampire that ever mated to a human prior to the establishing of the Golden Coven would count.
- Though the first vignette in Flashes indicates that Sulpicia was thrilled to be taken away from her human life by Aro.
- Starter Villain: James and Victoria. They both wind up dying fairly unceremoniously.
- The Strategist: Siobhan. This is, in fact, her power.
- Summon Bigger Fish: When Bella runs out of other options, she ends up using this method to escape from James.
- Superpower Lottery: As per Twilight canon, there are humans (and vampires) with unusual powers, including Edward's mind reading, Alice's precognition, and Bella's mental shield. In this fic, people with such powers are called "witches".
- Supporting Leader: Siobhan eventually becomes this in Radiance.
- Switching P.O.V.: The first book's narrator is Bella, in keeping with Twilight tradition, the second's is Elspeth, with Addy taking over for the chapter where Elspeth is comatose and delusional.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Chelsea's far too amoral to be a woobie, but when you see her memories, you have to wonder why she thinks 'Everyone must love me'. She's showing signs of being one of the more tragic variants of the Stepford Smiler.
- Take That:
- Bella’s comments on how a name combining Renée and Esme would sound like a Pokémon.
- The premise of this fic looks like one, but the author actually likes Twilight.
- Talking to Themself: This is what ends up happening when Elspeth tries using her power on herself.
- Talking Your Way Out: Part of Bella's "Summon Bigger Fish" plan.
- Time Abyss: Aro falls into this, not by being alive for that long, but because he has so many memories of so many vampires that, going by remembered time, he may be older than humanity. By extension, Addy and Elspeth.
- …and by extension again, Siobhan, and everyone caught in the memory blast, with the exception of the humans who are physically incapable of processing millions of years’ worth of memories in high-definition.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Marcus spends most of the story (and the preceeding two thousand years) brooding over Didyme (and being forced to see his severed half of their mate bond, because of his power). He finally gets thrown a bone in one of the final chapters of Radiance, when she is reincarnated in a human’s body and their mate bond reforms.
- Token Evil Teammate: In Radiance, Adelaide.
Maggie: Jesus! Wow, I've killed a lot of people, but I never coerced a five-year-old into provoking somebody into torturing her so I could get my jollies playing with her power. Most Evil Person In The Car Award goes to Addy.
- Too Much For Man To Handle: Addy discovers you can use Elspeth's power to broadcast a lifetime's worth of memory. Later on, she has to take advantage of this by broadcasting her entire set of memories. She's several centuries old, and has used Aro's powers to absorb the comprehensive memories of hundreds of other vampires. This means that some ten thousand years of memories get uploaded to every nearby vampire in an instant. The resulting information overload is breathtaking.
- Not just metaphorically breathtaking, it proves deadly to a couple of humans caught in the blast.
- And some of this information is politically very delicate.
- Unreliable Narrator: Whenever Allirea is discussed, Elspeth elides over the conversation with "This is unimportant; why are they discussing this?"
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: This is Allirea's power. Except when she's actively suppressing it, everyone (except Demetri, her stalker, whose mate bond overrides the power, and Bella, who is immune to all mental powers) forgets about her existence, even when looking right at her.
- Villainous BSOD: Demetri in Chapter 31 of Radiance, thanks to Elspeth. He then flies into a frenzy.
- The Watson: Bella.
- Weak, but Skilled: Vladimir and Stefan. They have no powers to speak of whatsoever, yet they're some of the oldest vampires in existence, and Elspeth thinks either of them could defeat Siobhan in a fair fight. Even though they're physically smaller, have ancient, brittle skin, and Siobhan has witchcraft.
- Weasel Words: These help hide whether Elspeth's telling the truth.
- Also used to hide things from Maggie.
- Wham Episode: To the point that you can refer to people as pre- and post-the following spoiler: Oh, this is interesti—did Edward just die?
- Definitely not the only one, though.
- What Cliffhanger?: Nearly every chapter ends on one.
- Chapter 35 of Radiance has an amazing one, though. "'Quite a story,' agreed Alice's voice, softly."
- Wild Card:
- Addy is almost a paragon of this trope. She's completely amoral, possesses an ability that is uniquely suited for making things more chaotic, and follows an inscrutable agenda, sometimes working against the protagonists, and other times working against the Volturi, to the point that it's almost impossible to predict what she'll do next.
- To a much lesser extent, since he hasn't actually appeared in the fic (but been mentioned a few times,) Joham is this as well, due to his solitary tendencies, as well as his scientific curiosity and stated goals of creating a Super Soldier Master Race.
- Yaoi Guys: The telekinetic vampire Hao and his mate Kazuo from Radiance.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: Elspeth finds a way around a power-restriction this way. Considering that witch powers are personality-based, it makes sense.