Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 18, 2004

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Of the eleven people who attended this meeting, only one had not read the book, and only eight finished it. Five had read Doctorow’s work previously, and some of them preferred the short story “Craphound.”

This light, easy-to-read, short novel begins with the overhaul of the Hall of the Presidents in Disney World. When the animatronic presidents are discarded and replaced by direct imprinting of experiences on the brains of visitors, the protagonist Jules fights to save the Haunted Mansion from a similar fate.

In Doctorow’s future world, the anarchical Bitchun Society has taken over, and the monetary system has been replaced with a measure of popularity called Whuffie. Nearly everyone has brain implants to connect them on-line, and true death has been eliminated with downloadable brain scans.

Most of us thought the technology, economy, and characters were not developed enough to be convincing. Though the book was hyped as being the “coming thing” and it had some interesting ideas, we didn’t see much that was actually new. References to the various rides held little meaning for those who had never visited Disney World or Disney Land, but for Disney fans, they brought back fun memories.

After the discussion ended, the group chose new books.

— Sandy Kayser