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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [Hardcover]

Cory Doctorow
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 2003

The prophetic debut novel from the visionary author fo LITTLE BROTHER, now published for the first time in the UK.

Jules is a young man barely a century old. He’s lived long enough to see the cure for death and the end of scarcity, to learn ten languages and compose three symphonies … and to realize his boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World.

Disney World! The greatest artistic achievement of the long-ago twentieth century. Now overseen by a network of ‘ad hocs’ who keep the classic attractions running as they always have, enhanced with only the smallest high-tech touches.

But the ad hocs are under attack. A new group has taken over the Hall of Presidents and is replacing its venerable audioanimatronics with new, immersive direct-to-brain interfaces that give guests the illusion of being Washington, Lincoln and all the others. For Jules, this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself.

Worse: it appears that this new group has had Jules killed. This upsets him. (It’s only his fourth death and revival after all.) Now it’s war.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765304368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765304360
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 786,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Canadian-born Cory Doctorow is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Little Brother. He has won the Locus Award for his fiction three times, been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula, and is the only author to have won both the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Campbell Award for best SF Novel of the Year. He is the co-editor of, writes columns for Make, Information Week, the Guardian online and Locus and has been named one of the internet's top 25 influencers by Forbes magazine and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Cory Doctorow lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Product Description

Amazon Review

In Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, things are not well in the land of Space Mountain. The operations of Disney World, in this glimpse into the near future, are administered by "ad-hocs", volunteer groups devoted to retaining the old-fashioned charms of the amusement park in a society that has otherwise undergone radical change. Now that you can back up the contents of your brain and download it into a fresh clone, death has become obsolete. And rather than acquiring wealth, people are concerned with earning Whuffie, a measure of good will and admiration among your fellow immortals.

As one of the people in charge of the theme park's Haunted Mansion, Jules has no shortage of Whuffie. While he's delighted with his job and his perky girlfriend Lil, he's increasingly suspicious of the ambitious ad-hoc that's just revamped the Hall of Presidents. "Ad hoc?" Jules grumbles at one point. "Hell, call them what they were: an army." After Jules is "killed"--for the fourth time in the hundred years he's been around--he realises that the Haunted Mansion is under threat, along with the rest of his beloved Magic Kingdom.

It's the sort of wild, tech-savvy premise a reader might expect from someone with Doctorow's CV--among other things, he's one of the editors of the popular Weblog Boing Boing and a 2000 Hugo Award winner for best new writer. Doctorow, a Toronto native who now lives in San Francisco, makes savvy references to recent SF landmarks such as Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age and Snow Crash, and fans of Carl Hiaasen may be reminded of the amusement-park warfare in Native Tongue and the anti-Mickey bile of Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World. But what Doctorow's first novel lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in terms of exuberance and appeal. The action is funny and swiftly paced as the increasingly unhinged Jules tries to discover the identity of his "murderer" and protect the Haunted Mansion. Along the way, Doctorow reconfigures society in a dazzling variety of ways and creates a future that he can call his own. --Jason Anderson,



‘Impressively imagined’ New York Times

‘Cory Doctorow doesn’t just write about the future – I think he lives there.’ Kelly Link

‘A kinetic, immersive yarn … wholly entertaining’ The Onion AV Club

‘He sparkles! He fizzes! He does backflips and breaks the furniture! Science Fiction needs Cory Doctorow.’ Bruce Sterling

Praise for Cory Doctorow:

‘Fresh and full of thought-provoking ideas, a book about tomorrow that demands to be read now.’ The Times

‘I’d recommend ‘Little Brother’ over pretty much any book I’ve read this year. Because I think it’ll change lives. It’s a wonderful, important book’ Neil Gaiman

‘A glorious book unlike any book you’ve ever read’ Gene Wolfe

‘A cracking read’ Guardian

‘Doctorow brilliantly shows us a near-future that’s equally wondrous, inspiring and terrifying’ BBC Focus

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
My girlfriend was fifteen percent of my age, and I was old-fashioned enough that it bugged me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great first novel 6 Feb 2003
By Mark Baker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Julius has finally realized his life long dream of living in Disney World. He finds his job with the Liberty Square ad hocs to be fun and his girlfriend Lil keeps him feeling young. When his best friend Dan shows up, he feels his life is complete. But then he's murdered. Granted, it's only his third death, which isn't bad for being over a hundred, but he still takes it rather personally. He's even more surprised when he finds out that Deb moved into the Hall of Presidents while he was out.
Deb is leading a group that is slowly bringing all the attractions into the modern era with new technology. Julius and his friends oppose this because they want to keep the park the way it was in the 20th century, technology, storylines, and all. Julius feels he should take a stand, but what can he do?
First, the bad. Maybe it's because I don't read that much science fiction, but I had a hard time with the jargon of this book. For the first 50 pages or so, I was really struggling to follow the new terms the characters were using when discussing their lives.
But once I got the lingo down, I couldn't put the book down. The story is interesting with quite a few twists and turns. All the characters were interesting and well developed, but I especially liked Julius. He was easy to care about, and I had to know what would happen to him next. I'm a huge Disney fan, so the back drop of Disney World certainly didn't hurt either. In fact, it made me want to visit the park even more.
Cory Doctorow is definitely an author to watch. He weaves a good yarn in an interesting vision of the future. I'm already looking forward to whatever he has up his sleeve next.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant fan! 6 May 2004
I read the first 3 chapters of this book online, where the author and publisher have made it available free and legal!
After getting hooked into the world in the first three chapters I bought the book and Cory's other book of short stories. I flew through the pages and have just bought Eastern Standard Tribe!
If you live in the internet world then this book will strike a chord with you I am sure.
Great modern SciFi, great computer "geek" universe. And all based in Disneyland, fantastic!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dystopia? Eutopia? Utopia? 18 July 2010
First of all, thank you Cory Doctorow for making your books available under Creative Commons Licences, for free, on the web. Also, thank you Sony for the Reader - it makes reading free ebooks a pleasure.

That said, I will probably not buy a hard copy of this book. It isn't bad, don't get me wrong, but it did not stun or wow me. (Unlike Little Brother, of which I did not only buy one hard copy for myself after reading the free version, but various copies for schools out in the world, and which I tried hard to get my undergrads to read. I suppose that means the verdict is out on whether creative commons is a good way of promoting work - I think it is a good way for great work, but a bad way for middle of the range works...)

So, Down and Out... What is it about? It's set in a post-scarcity society. Nothing is scarce at all - unlimited energy, unlimited resources, unlimited lifespans (courtesy of a simple process whereby clones are made to order, and memories and minds transferred into them when the person dies - all people need to do is back up regularly). The internet / information is universally available, in people's minds at a thought's notice. People don't use phones or hardware - when they want to reach each other, they subvocally connect to the other's minds and hope they let them in.

Very well. No scarcity means no real economy - except, people have something a bit like a currency still: whuffie. It's their social standing, turned into a number. People check each other's whuffie to see whether the other person is worthwhile sticking around, or lower down the pecking order.

In that world, our hero lives in Disneyworld with his girlfriend, looking after some of the rides.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctorow's reputation economy 23 Jun 2004
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is not only a page turner, it's also a fascinating portrayal of how our social interactions will change in a digital world of plenty. When most commodities can be costlessly replicated, scarce resources like reputation, attention and skill acquire new value. This economy of regard has already taken hold in certain quarters of the internet, most famously in the world of open source software. Doctorow extends this structure to society at large and shows how an individual's fortunes can quickly rise and tumble with the fickle whims of the crowd. The challenges of affluence were never so apparent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gone so far and yet haven't moved at all 26 Oct 2008
it's funny to think that a humanity which has freed itself of death, sickness, energy limitations, economical injustice, ends up worshipping the walk disney theme parks.
cory doctorow lays down some big huge solid foundations and then builds a rather light and self-ironic book on this foundations. but this is the geniality of it, this is how it escapes being obvious.
it has the taste of a new generation, of someone who has grown in another era, blogging, cyberspace, post-Gibson.
And it's his first book, so long live Cory and looking forward to catch up with all the stuff that i have lost so far.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not long and nothing too original
Good book. Enjoyed it however it's not long and more far future than his normal near future sci-fi. Well written and nicely paced but lacks some punch. Read more
Published 7 months ago by BEN KETLEY
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I have now read quite a few or Cory Doctorow's books and this is my least favourite. There is nothing bad about it just not as adventurous in scope as some of his other works. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars not for me, sorry Cory
Clearly Cory Doctorow is a top bloke, with his activism and co-editing Boing Boing, so I was keen to read this. Read more
Published 9 months ago by tallmanbaby
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange and quirky, but very readable.
On first inspection I was inclined towards thinking that it would be a surreal, outlandish story, but Cory Doctrow has done a fantastic job of creating a very lucid and grounded... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Collstep
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappontment
Not the writer's fault I dare say but too offbeat and leftfield for my personal Science Fiction taste. Interesting concept ; poor execution
Published 12 months ago by T Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and imaginative
What a brilliant book, especially for a first novel. The speculative extrapolation of the future of money and society is well observed and it seems incredible it was written in... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Graeme from Preston
5.0 out of 5 stars A More Accessible Story
Recently discovered Cory Doctrow, really liked a couple but then find one a bit of a slog & not so good. Read more
Published on 2 Nov 2011 by Patterns of Life
1.0 out of 5 stars nah
This book was in my view messy and full of lingo just to impress. I read a lot of fantasy and sf and usually do not have a problem with this, As the dialogue is quite boring the... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by mats
4.0 out of 5 stars For lovers of Disney and great fiction
Good read, interesting ideas, made all the better when they're talking about the Mgic Kingdom, which is a place close to my heart. Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2010 by Chris Blanc
4.0 out of 5 stars Curious take on what the future may look like, and how some things...
Very interesting thought experiment on what our society could look like when death is curable, and all other major current issues, like famine and poverty are eliminated as... Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2009 by Bruno P
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