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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003)

by Cory Doctorow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3041095,118 (3.54)76
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.… (more)
  1. 00
    Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (erikrebooted)
    erikrebooted: A darker, gritter take on downloadable consciousness and replacement bodies.
  2. 00
    Mine All Mine by Adam Davies (MonographicalyMe)
    MonographicalyMe: These titles share an interesting mix of the absurd and fantastical and the real challenges and natural quirks of human nature.
  3. 00
    Extras by Scott Westerfeld (lampbane)
    lampbane: Another look at the concept of a reputation economy, where wealth is measured by how famous a person is, and the main character desperately wants to stop being an "extra": just another face in the crowd.
  4. 00
    Truncat by Cory Doctorow (jshrop)
  5. 00
    Scroogled by Cory Doctorow (Liberuno)
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» See also 76 mentions

English (103)  French (5)  Romanian (1)  All languages (109)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
I am a big fan of the House of Mouse, so the title really intrigued me; what's not to like about the Magic Kingdom? In truth , the story centered around 2 attractions (Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion) with a brief mention of a 3rd (Pirates of the Caribbean ... My favorite) as the back drop to a story of power and greed that should have no place in a [post scarcity] society where all of our needs are taken care of and old fashioned money doesn't define power anymore. True wealth (power) is now defined by reputation ... Where public respect for what you are doing gives you "Whuffie" (street creed or political capital) that helps you accomplish things in the future. This is a lot like how bloggers work; readers vote on how much they liked or respected a particular article, which then helps increase its visibility and subsequently a bloggers audience giving the blogger greater power to influence society; not surprisingly, Cory Doctorow got his start as a blogger. Doctorow was not the first person to talk about a reputation economy, but his was the first pure portrayal of such that got me thinking about how it would truly work ... Or not. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The second major theme of the story was more post [or trans] humanism. The new 'Bitchin Society (aka BS) is based upon the surreal assumption that we can effectively eliminate the supply constraint (curve) on our economy and thereby get whatever we need in any quality needed ... Including artificial extensions on life itself. Doctorow does this with a combination of information technology (or personal backups) and cloning technology (to provide a custom platform into which your backup can be restored). This concept is taken to an extreme where clones are destroyed and backups restored to a new clone simply as a common way to avoid the inconvenience of a boredom while traveling long distances or the effects of the common cold. Now comes the question ... What exactly is a human? Can our essential self be so defined that a backup is even possible? What happens if the previous clone is not destroyed and you now have two persons with the same starting consciousness that now have two different experiences? Are they now two different people? Doctorow doesn't really answer these questions well, but you can see his characters struggling with the answers enough to start thinking on your own. ( )
  Kris.Larson | Sep 13, 2021 |
I remember reading this when it first hit the internet and finding the ideas fascinating, but the actual plot less so. Back then I felt like nothing of any particular importance was resolved.

A decade further on, my opinion hasn't so much changed as developed nuance. I think I understand the sentiment behind these characters a bit better-- post mortality, post scarcity, trying to find a reason to keep on, or a way to occupy time.

The author gives it a shot, though, basing the better aspects of the book on the relationships between the three main characters.

Like a lot of his stuff, it feels at times like this is more concept art for a couple BIG IDEAS (reputation based societies, ad-hocracy, deadheading, etc). That's not entirely a bad thing, because these really are interesting ideas.

It does mean that by the time the story wraps up, the culmination doesn't carry a lot of punch. Then again, in that environment it makes sense that huge events lack the same impact-- when you've got forever to look forward to, nothing lasts. ( )
  MCBacon | Aug 2, 2021 |
Baie koel as jy van SF hou ... interressante idees, wil nog van hom lees ( )
  rendier | Dec 20, 2020 |
The first and best of Doctorow's books, Down and Out touches is one of those books that are "relevant" today, but likely won't be in 20 years or so once many of the issues that Cory cares about are either resolved or we're living in a post-apocalyptic world and therefore they don't matter anyway.

While the concept of Whuffie is a bit too utopian for me (and a logistical nightmare when you think about the massive computational power that would be required to crunch the complex algorithms to calculate Whuffie scores in real time), this book is a pretty fun read. Don't expect a whole lot of depth from it, though. ( )
  octoberdad | Dec 16, 2020 |
I wasn't expecting to feel for the protagonist, but while reading and despite myself I found myself stressed out at the possibility of a bad income.

I thought the idea of Whuffie and being eternally jacked in was incredibly cool, and as much a relevant spin on today's (2011) society than a prediction of some strange distant future.

That being said, I was terribly disappointed at the end of the book. I was hanging on my seat for resolution, and that resolution happened far too neatly and quickly, snacking the hero out from the jaws of defeat ... although I am impressed that, in true cyberpunk fashion, he wasn't exactly set down in victory either. And even then, Alfred Bester's "The Demolished Man" was an amazing story with a disappointing end, so "Down and Out" is still in quite excellent company. ( )
  NaleagDeco | Dec 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cory Doctorowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collica, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eshkar, ShelleyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Folio SF (308)
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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.
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You don't want to be a post-person. You want to stay human.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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