June Books 2) Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom

2) Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Another book that I read electronically, thanks to the author’s policy of making it freely available via a Creative Commons Licence. Actually this led to the single most irritating thing about the book, as I had to waste time and precious battery power on my Palm Pilot scrolling past the pages of literati endorsements and even more past the terms of the licence itself.

After that, I found this a really readable book. Julius, our narrator, lives in the Bitchun Society, a not-too-distant future where everyone has everything they physically need, and everyone periodically backs up their personalities for reloading into clones in case of accidental death. There is however an economy in “Whuffie”, or respect, given to you by others when you do something they like. And everyone (at least everyone in the book) is producing stuff of cultural value in an effort to gain Whuffie.

The Magic Kingdom of the title is Disney World, and the plot revolves around the attempts of Julius and his friends to preserve their beloved Haunted Mansion from the evil Debra, who wants to remake it as she has already fiendishly remade the Hall of the Presidents. Described like that, one’s immediate reaction is, “Why care?” But Doctorow does manage to communicate his intense passion for Disney World in such a way that it doesn’t in the end seem silly (in a society where entertainment and culture are the most tradable commodities) and in fact you do care. The plot is satisfying, there aren’t too many info-dump rants about how great it is now compared with the Twentieth Century, and all is resolved, though not necessarily happily for everyone.

But I did end up wondering what was happening in the rest of the world all the time. Stuff seems to be happening in China and in space, but I’d be very interested to see the effects of such a society on the less well organised part of our world. (One character is Chinese; another may be of Indian origin, but the rest sound just American or Canadian.) The Magic Kingdom is a special place, but it doesn’t tell us much about what is going on elsewhere.

One thought on “June Books 2) Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom

  1. I boosted to 400% and couldn’t see a difference, but font may well affect it.

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