Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom Paperback – 8 Jul 2010
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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, Amazon.ca --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM:
‘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 FocusSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
It’s a neat concept – in a world where absolute poverty has been eliminated, the environment has been sorted out, and nobody needs a paid job, what would serve as currency? Doctorow suggests it would be something like your reviewer ranking here on amazon, but extended to everything you do – do people “like” what you are doing with your life? A high whuffle ranking gets you into the best hotels, restaurants, theme parks. It sounds great – people would be effectively financially penalised for anti-social behaviour – a grumpy old man’s dream world!. But it could turn toxic as it does here, which makes sense – even in the present you see all too often that well-meaning voluntary organisations can be paralysed by ego-tripping board members.
The book is a little flawed, but it is an “important” read.
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!
Cory is not cyberpunk, but is exploring possible Earth near futures with tech usually at the heart of the issues/changes/problems the characters face. This novel is quite old fashioned in that it's not a wordy tome, I was using it as light relief from the latest Peter Hamilton Trilogy.... Some modern readers may feel the background & character details are a bit sparse therefore, but it means the story shines, and some of the repercussions from the tech on human society/crime etc. Read, 'nuff said.
Some of these future societies are horrible but fantastic to read about, for me, this is just mehh. Similarly the characters and plot did nothing much for me. I found the book a real struggle to push on with, and was considering a 2/5 marking, but the ending was an improvement, which swung the mark up to 3/5.
Of course many people love this book, but it is not for me, sorry Cory.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book felt clunky to me. It just kind of stumbled along and beat you over the head with its ideas, instead of making them a part of a really tight plot.Published 8 months ago by Mr. M. Sinclair
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 morePublished on 19 Feb. 2014 by BEN KETLEY
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 morePublished on 1 Feb. 2014 by Robert Davis
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 morePublished on 13 Sept. 2013 by Collstep
Not the writer's fault I dare say but too offbeat and leftfield for my personal Science Fiction taste. Interesting concept ; poor executionPublished on 29 Aug. 2013 by Kindle Customer
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 morePublished on 3 April 2013 by Graeme from Preston
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 morePublished on 11 Sept. 2011 by mats
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 morePublished on 30 Nov. 2010 by Chris Blanc