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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
Reason for Reading: Sci Fi Experience
Rating: 3.5/5

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.

How could I not pick up this book with an introduction like that? I have this thing for Disney World, science fiction, and especially funny science fiction. There was a lot to love in this book.

Disney World is ruled by a volunteer network of ad-hocs who keep the attractions running for the "whuffie" or good will they earn from tourists. In a utopian society, whuffie is currency. Whoever does the best job of keeping the guests happy gets the most whuffie.

You might be wondering that with all three of my favorite things coming together, why did I only give it 3.5 out of five?

While there honestly is a lot to like about this smart and funny read, the biggest con with this book is that Jules is not that sympathetic of a character. Okay, he's persistent in trying to prevent the Haunted House in the Magic Kingdom from being overtaken by a rival who wants to turn it into a new direct-to-brain interface. But the depths that he sinks to in order to get his way, including downright sabotage, start to alienate him from everyone else. And sometimes I had to sympathize with everyone else.

However, that didn't put me off enough that I wouldn't go for more Cory Doctorow in the future. I liked his concept, I liked imagining Disney World in the future, I liked the exploration of how life becomes so meaningless without death that most people voluntarily die in order to skip out on a couple of weeks, months, or years and see if things are cooler in the future.

Should I read it? Do you like sci fi? Do you like Disney World? Then yes.

1 comment:

Nymeth said...

That is a cool premise. I still haven't read any Doctorow, but I'm planing to read Little Brother soon.