Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: A Novel

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: A Novel

by Cory Doctorow


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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
collingsruth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While Cory Doctorow always comes off as pedantic, perhaps that is just because I know his themes and his mindset and it transfers very obviously to his works of fiction to the point that they stop being fiction and more like a roundabout way to brainwash people. Yet I can't deny he knows how to spin a tale, and this is a quick, interesting little mystery with enough real thoughtfulness to balance out the catchphrases.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On campus, they called him Keep-A-Movin' Dan, because of his cowboy vibe and because of his lifestyle, and he somehow grew to take over every conversation I had for the next six months. I pinged his Whuffie a few times, and noticed that it was climbing steadily upward as he accumulated more esteem from the people he met.I'd pretty much pissed away most of my Whuffie¿all the savings from the symphonies and the first three theses¿drinking myself stupid at the Gazoo, hogging library terminals, pestering profs, until I'd expended all the respect anyone had ever afforded me. All except Dan, who, for some reason, stood me to regular beers and meals and movies. In the post-scarcity Bitchun Society your status is based on your interactions with other people. If they respect you or your work your Whuffie score goes up, and if they don't your score goes down. The concept of Whuffie was interesting but how it works wasn't explained in enough detail. Strangely for a book set in Disney World, there were no child characters at all, and I was left wondering how Whuffie applied to children and teenagers. Would they be linked to their parents' Whuffie and if so would their actions affect their parents' Whuffie levels? At what age do they get their own Whuffie, and do they start from an average level, or from zero? As it wasn't much more than 100 years since the Bitchun Society had beaten death, it is surprising that so many people had already decided that this living forever thing was getting boring and either committed suicide or deadheaded (went into cold storage), asking to be woken in a few hundred years, or ten thousand years, or even just when something interesting happens. It seems that boredom must be a big issue, since people also deadhead for much shorter periods, even to avoid experiencing a two-hour journey. Unfortunately I have never been particularly interested in Disney and the author didn't succeed in rousing my interest, so I really couldn't have cared less whether Debra and her ad-hoc took over the whole of Disney World. The story did pick up towards the end and I enjoyed the last 10% more than the rest. I don't like protagonists who behave stupidly and irrationally, but in this case it turned out that there was a reason for Julius behaving so strangely, so I forgave him for it in the end.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You have a lot of people saying this is a great book. I do agree that you should check it out, but I wasn't quite blown away by it. I was impressed how Mr. Doctorow extrapolated from current technology--the internet and its subculture--and built a whole new milieu where people have direct interface to the web and death has been circumvented by the ability to restore a person to their most recent back-up. The story itself, however, wasn't quite as fascinating. Perhaps I'm a bit handicapped by the fact that I've never been to any of the Disneylands. I don't know.--J.
slpenney07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Living in Disney World isn't all it's cracked up to be when someone is trying to kill you.The Take-Away: What if you could live forever without aging? What if the opponents to this plan were eliminated simply because they died and you didn't?Cory Doctrow explores what happens when humankind is "perfect." Wuffie, or popularity, is important because that regulates your basic necessities, but work is only what you "want" to do, since you use it to increase your Wuffie. Sounds like high school, right?And then there's the real drawback to this futuristic high school. To combat aging, a back of your memories and body can be made and uploaded into a clone whenever you want. No more illness or disease. If you get sick, just grow a new you. Changing your looks is easy too, including age lines, wrinkles, and bad joints. But what if something goes wrong with a back-up? Or you don't have the most recent one on file?I can't say more without giving away a major plot point (and I might have said too much as it is) but it was this twist that I loved.The other thing that I really liked was how Doctrow is managing his electronic rights. He has made an electronic copy available through A short segment is delivered to your inbox on a schedule you set-up. The next fragment is always a click a way.Recommendation: I liked it, but it's not for everyone, I'm sure.
Ste100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was good until I realized that this is blatant wish fufillment fantasy. One star.
krypto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found the technological ideas in Cory Doctorow's first novel fascinating and thought-provoking. The concept of 'Whuffie' - a reputation system by which anybody can award points to anybody for any reason, and everybody's score is public knowledge - is particularly memorable. There's not much of a plot, but the book is more about exploring a world in which want has been eradicated, and the ways in which people then choose to interact. There's a healthy dose of wonder, too. It's released under a Creative Commons license, so anybody can share, perform or copy the novel without permission.
bililoquy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An easy read, and enjoyable enough, but I finished it out of boredom rather than eagerness. The characters are, without exception, tortilla-flat, and the course of the story is pretty obvious by the second chapter or so. Gee-whiz tech-speculations aren't enough to save the narrative. I get the feeling that this should have been a short story, a novella at most--the book only reached 200 pages with the aid of a large font and several glaringly needless flashbacks and digressions.
colaboy29 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very different is all I can say. Some great ideas about the future of theme parks, or at least, Walt Disney World.
defrog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The debut novel by one of the co-founders of BoingBoing. I liked his book Eastern Standard Tribe, but not this one so much ¿ possibly because it¿s set in Disneyland and written with an obsessive enthusiasm for the place that I simply don¿t share. It doesn¿t help that Doctorow¿s a little too good at creating protagonists that are, basically, annoying single-minded assholes. That¿s my problem, not his, and it¿s a decent story, but I just couldn¿t get into it.
rpuchalsky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A competently written techno-mystery SF book. I should have been more interested in it than I was, given that I generally like attempts to envision future post-scarcity anarchist societies. But this one envisions social credit being run via reputational economics a la every Web 2.0 person-rating site out there. That wasn't a new idea in 2003, it's not a new idea now, and it smells like the usual attempt to fence in something free that so enlivened the Internet bubble. Since the people in the book evidently are mostly satisfied with it without being under duress, you have to feel that they're really pretty dull.
maepress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted more out of this book. I was uncomfortable with the shallowness of the characters. I found myself bored and wishing that the main character would make some sort of decision.
RoboSchro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I lived long enough to see the cure for death; to see the rise of the Bitchun Society; to learn ten languages; to compose three symphonies; to realize my boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World; to see the death of the workplace and of work."This was my first book by Cory Doctorow, who has a good reputation, and whose work in internet-land I admire. I was looking forward to it, but I came away disappointed.The ideas, as you'd expect, are great. The book is a clever look at a fairly plausible post-scarcity society. Luxury items are purchased with a currency based on respect and contribution -- the more you do for people, and the more they like what you do, the richer you get. I'd have liked more detail (Only basic sustenance is free -- but why? Is everywhere similar to the America he portrays?), more history of how society got to where he shows it -- but still, it's good stuff.The characterisation, though, is poor. Jules, the protagonist, spends much of the book uncertain of his own motivation, possibly mad, certainly angry and obsessive. It's possible for a novel to succeed with an unlikeable hero, but it takes a very good writer to pull it off. Doctorow doesn't manage it. You often feel that Jules ought to fail, because he's being such an idiot.He also misses a great opportunity with another character -- Dan, who's struggling for motivation in his life, who's only thrived when outside the comfort and safety of the have-it-all society. He has been visiting communities which have stayed isolated out of fear or mistrust or ideology, living with them, and convincing them to join everyone else. When he's convinced them all, he runs out of interest in living. But how does he feel about what he's done? Can he not see the conflict there? Doctorow doesn't even glance at these questions.Also, Disney World as the rock upon which defenders of the "real" base their fight against the virtual? What's up with that? If it's meant to be ironic, the idea needed to be given more bite.Cory Doctorow is great to have around, but on this evidence, he's not a great novelist.
JohnMunsch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My feelings about Down and Out are a little ambivalent. I thought it had wonderful ideas and in many ways the writing seemed of even higher caliber than in Jennifer Government. It all came down to plot and execution in the last quarter or third of the book. It felt rushed somehow near the end or anti-climactic or something. I haven't been able to put a finger on what exactly it was that disappointed me with the end of this book but I ended up that way. It was still very much worth reading because of the wonderfully inventive ideas and the interesting characters but don't expect a boffo finish.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This very short, approaching novella length, novel is an amusing piece of writing by a highly acclaimed young writer of the "new" generation. While it was entertaining, I found it to be little more than that. The premise involves a future society in which "death" has been abolished along with currency. All means of subsistence (food, clothing, shelter) are available without the need to work. Items of scarcity are allocated through the accumulation of "Whuffie", a currency substitute. Essentially, Whuffie is accumulated through the good will and good deeds which you perform for others. The brains and memories of the inhabitants are frequently "backed up". In the event of death or disfigurement, a clone is generated and the downloaded memories installed therein. Those tiring of immortality can elect to "deadhead", essentially entering a state of suspended animation for periods of time. There are apparently no corporations as such. All "production" and services are provided by "adhocracies", commune like organizations. This story is set in a future Disney World, where various ad hocs manage the theme park through a division of labor. A power struggle between two such ad hocs is the central theme of the story. An interesting concept, presented in an entertaining manner, but not in any way remarkable in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is worth the 3-4 hours it takes to polish off.
tyroeternal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was an extremely engrossing read for me. As a small, futuristic, science fiction book it did a wonderful job. Doctorow did not build up a complete picture of the entire world during these events, or show all the pieces to the system, but he did a wonderful job of telling the main character's story and laying out his experiences. I was pulled in as the story unfolded, and satisfied with the length, style, and writing.
hhhiryuu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doctorow's debut science fiction/post-cyberpunk novel is a short but engaging read. It's one of those SF works where the author focuses on quickly establishing several technological advancement premises and a unique setting, and then allows the characters to explore the resulting ramifications of the setup. Almost more thought experiment than novel, but definitely interesting.
rakerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The underlying ideas are good (an entirely reputation-based economy, immortality, built-in electronics) but I didn't find the plot compelling. Not surprisingly, it may appeal more to people with a fascination for the Disney theme parks.
SystemicPlural on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable read about how social networking can be taken an extreme that enables it to replace the financial economy an allows people to live in new ways. The novel follows the life of a guy as he lives in Disney land, which is run using an ad-hoc consensus process.I found it a little predictable and naive, but thoroughly enjoyed the ideas that he explores.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tight, imaginative sci-fi. Cool approach to future computing systems. Don't tell anyone that it got me kind of choked up a bit.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disneyworld has apparently been colonized in the near future, becoming its own city-state with factions residing in the different lands. Julius is a cast member overseeing the Haunted Mansion, who falls into a political struggle with Debra, who maintains the Hall of Presidents. As Julius fights to be heard in the supposed meritocracy (very clique-y and not so different from politics today) the story becomes a satirical look at what entertainment means, as a crowd pleaser versus having a basis in actual merit - or what 'merit' or reputation actually even mean.The book is chock-full of classic sci-fi conventions: death has been eradicated, everyone has a brain feed to everything all the time, there's space travel and ray guns and everything. And all of the characters are terribly unlikeable and make some pretty inscrutable decisions. Unfortunately these detract from a fun concept that could have been crafted into a good story.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the Magic Kingdom in Florida, having visited there a number of times in my life. When I saw this Science Fiction novel centering around Disney World, and even more specifically the Haunted Mansion, I had to give it a read. It was a good book with some interesting ideas. Definitely an adult read.Jules is your typical citizen, he lives in a world that is not run by money but by Whuffie. Whuffie is a currency based on what people around you think about you and how much joy you bring them. If you have lots of Whuffie lots of people love you and you get lots of perks. In this future everyone can survive and gets the basics of food and shelter, but only Whuffie allows you to live in style. This is also an age where people back themselves up on computer, this is awesome because if something happens to your body then you can just upload yourself into a new clone whenever you least as long as your backup is up to date. Well, Jules is at a point in time where him and his girlfriend Lil are helping to keep the Hall of Presidents running in Liberty Square in Disney World. Suddenly Jules is murdered, not a huge deal, but when a top-notch computer ride designer uses the opportunity of his death to step in and redo the Hall of Presidents, Jules is out for blood. More specifically he has decided that he will protect the Haunted Mansion from this designer's clutches no matter what it takes and sets out to redesign the Haunted Mansion himself in a way that lets it stay true to its original form.There were a lot of things I liked about this book. Doctorow has come up with an interesting society and a very creative way at looking at human aging. Things like the ability of humans to deadhead for a few centuries and then be reinserted into a new clone when the world becomes more interesting to them, are very creative and really bring this society alive for the reader. The whole Whuffie system is in itself also very creative and a pleasure to immerse oneself in. The fixation that Jules had with the Haunted Mansion was interesting and Doctorow's description of the ride dead-on. The twist the story takes at the end was fascinating and made for a good read. The story and writing style were easily readable.As far as things I didn't like about the book there were a few. I didn't really like Jules as a character too much, neither did I like Lil. They were almost too human; neither of them really showed any heroic qualities. Also things like suicide and deadheading were taken in stride, which might bother some people, but makes sense in a society where people are centuries old. The novel is plagued by a lot of throwing scientific terms around that the reader doesn't understand in the beginning; this is resolved as the novel continues but is a bit frustrating at first. Also sometimes Jules takes diversions in the story that don't seem necessary (for instance in the part where he goes off talking about a marriage he had to this crazy lady with fur, it had some impact on the story but not enough to go on as long as it did). Lastly the problem of overpopulation of Earth (in a society where people are born but never die) was mentioned briefly in the beginning, but then was never dealt with as the story progressed.While this novel isn't necessarily a fun read, it is an interesting read. I would recommend it if you are interested in the downfalls of a Utopian society, or if you are crazy about the Haunted Mansion, or if you just like reading about various future versions of Earth. A good book. I will definitely check out more of Doctorow's books in the future.
irunsjh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. Being a fan of the Disney parks and ideals helped for sure. I liked the cyberpunk aspect of the book, while maintaining a very real perspective. I am sure that this sort of life is not something we will see in the very far future, but I do like the idea. Don't like what happened last year, go back to a time when it was better with no worries.A recommended book for fans of Neal Stephenson in my opinion.
aarondesk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had high expectations for this book after what I'd heard about it, so was a little let down.The beginning and end were nice and exciting, the middle a little boring. At one point I found myself thinking that I didn't like a single character in the book except the one who was trying to separate himself from this future society. And the idea of all these people obsessed with Disney World was a little spooky. Perhaps the author is suggesting that in a post-scarcity world nothing else matters but fun and games. That being said the technology was cool and there were some exciting parts and twists to the book. It's a short read, so if you get a chance you might check it out.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this. I've never been to the Magic Kingdom, but the feeling of wistful nostalgia for a thing that cannot be perfectly frozen in time is familiar enough.
mbg0312 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to love this book - Doctorow won my admiration with his wonderful Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town - but I couldn't quite do it. I can't even identify why, but it just didn't sing. Well written? Check. Interesting premise and worldbuilding? Check. Original, fresh ideas? Several big checks. Some combination of the characterization and plotting just didn't quite work.