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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom Paperback – December 5, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kirk: Well we don't.
-- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek may be a money-free universe, but they've always left blank the details of how scarce assets like a starship or a Picasso ... or the Haunted Mansion might get allocated.
In this fun, fast book, the clearly talented Cory Doctorow explores a full-on reputation economy. With the help of a sophisticated, real-time network, people accumulate and lose a reputation currency called "whuffie." The ideas are an incredibly rich playground, and the author doesn't make you suffer through flat characters or clunky prose to get to them. On the contrary, these are totally alive characters set in a deeply conjured world (which world is Disney World, a place you can feel the author's passion for). By the end, you'll know the characters well enough to be able to judge what impact this new world has -- or doesn't have -- on the fundamentals of human nature.
Cory Doctorow deserves much whuffie for this novel. Highly recommended.
At its heart, this is the story of Julius, a post-modern man who is a centenarian living in Disney World. His is a world without scarcity or death, and as such, the dynamics of economies have changed radically. A person's rank in society is based upon their "whuffie", essentially the measure of their esteem within the breadth of the human population. While this meritocracy has certain appeals, it is still subject to the capriciousness of human nature, and as such, is still subject to many of the challenges of any of the systems the world currently enjoys (or doesn't). In particular, the need to use esteem in order to achieve capital means that non-stop consensus building plagues most aspects of life and diverts it into entirely unexpected directions.
Which brings us to the crux of Julius' dilemma, namely he has been killed to facilitate another "as hoc" seizing control of the Hall of Presidents, and now his new body is experiencing difficulties with it's internal computing capabilities and, worst of all, the Haunted Mansion may be the next ride to succumb. As Jules and his ad hoc fight to save the ride from losing it's 20th century charm, the pressure really begins to mount.
All this may sound absurd, but within the context of the story it works quite brilliantly.Read more ›
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.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom suffers from none of these flaws, and will be easily regarded in the future -- that mythical time that never comes -- alongside works of Philip K. Dick, although Doctorow's prose never gets out of control or wound up the way Dick's does.
Down and Out isn't a future so much as our inevitable outcome given the current ideas of technology, religion, and consumerism. Nothing in the book seemed unfamiliar, no matter how exotic it was, probably because Doctorow rooted the book so firmly in the Disney Nightmare that is modern entertainment.
I've been backstage at Disneyland and have met some cast members and Imagineering designers, and so his description of that kind of taken to the logical extreme occupation of the magic kingdom by people who want to make it better -- rather than make money or who have property rights -- doesn't strike me as odd, and his insights into what makes rides tick should gain him entrance to the Imagineering world.
The story at the heart is compelling, and Doctorow engages in only a few Moby Dick like expository techniques to draw you into the world and then body slam you with a concrete instanciation. Death is dead, the future is before is, and the question he asks is, really, what the hell are we going to do with ourselves? Put on the hat with the rounded ears, obviously.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very fun and interesting take on the future. An easy read and very entertaining. Most of the corporate structure references are accurate (a few are a bit dated).Published 3 months ago by Gaylin Vogel
Cory Doctorow LOVES Disneyworld. And LOVES, LOVES the Haunted Mansion. So it probably makes sense to him to set his post-Singularity, post-Scarcity, materialist-Utopia story deep... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jessica Draper
One of my favorite sci-fi books of all time. Make that any book of all time. Brilliantly imagined future and characters that are real people.Published 7 months ago by R. Akers
A good many other reviewer's seem to think this is a dystopian science fiction novel… I dare say it is the preview into reality and the future world of work-less society.Published 10 months ago by Smart Billy
I'm not sure what I expected, as a Disney fan, but this book was kind of a let down. The plot was super slow and seemed to not really matter.Published 11 months ago by Jennifer Pepper
The novel itself is wonderful. I purchased this copy to send to my daughter who is interning at Disney World.
The printing quality was ridiculous. Read more
Just a fun read. A long running joke with post singulaity leanings.Published 12 months ago by Gary R. Bradski
'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom' by Cory Doctorow has been on my to-be-read pile. So when my bookclub picked it as an alternate, I was happy to have a reason to read it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Wayne A McCoy
Despite being one of the most famous places on Earth, I feel like this book's setting is so unique. After all, who else is willing to tangle with the Disney powerhouse enough to... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dione Basseri