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Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow
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From Publishers Weekly
A lot of ideas are packed into this short novel, but Doctorow's own best idea was setting his story in Disney World, where it's hard to tell whether technology serves dreams or vice versa. Jules, a relative youngster at more than a century old, is a contented citizen of the Bitchun Society that has filled Earth and near-space since shortage and death were overcome. People are free to do whatever they wish, since the only wealth is respect and since constant internal interface lets all monitor exactly how successful they are at being liked. What Jules wants to do is move to Disney World, join the ad-hoc crew that runs the park and fine-tune the Haunted Mansion ride to make it even more wonderful. When his prudently stored consciousness abruptly awakens in a cloned body, he learns that he was murdered; evidently he's in the way of somebody else's dreams. Jules first suspects, then becomes viciously obsessed by, the innovative group that has turned the Hall of Presidents into a virtual experience. In the conflict that follows, he loses his lover, his job, his respect-even his interface connection-but gains perspective that the other Bitchun citizens lack. Jules's narrative unfolds so smoothly that readers may forget that all this raging passion is over amusement park rides. Then they can ask what that shows about the novel's supposedly mature, liberated characters. Doctorow has served up a nicely understated dish: meringue laced with caffeine.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Welcome to Bitchun society, where all today's commonplace problems have been solved: even death is a minor inconvenience, since one can make regular backups. Our hero has gone to Disneyland--his habit at times of major personal crisis--where he works for the ad-hocracy that runs the Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents. It is a great honor to be working on the pinnacle of late-twentieth-century cultural and artistic achievement--Disneyland, that would be--and it inspires great loyalty. Our man begins feeling the pressure of change, however, after a cookie-cutter teenybopper shoots him dead for apparently no reason at all. Convinced that a new ad-hocracy on the block used his death to take over the Hall of Presidents, he vows to sabotage their plans and protect the sanctity of the Haunted Mansion. Thus begins a cycle of destruction and conflict with unexpected ramifications for the park--and his personal life. An excellent ride, entertaining and unpredictable. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"He sparkles! He fizzes! He does backflips and breaks the furniture! Science fiction needs Cory Doctorow."
--Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown and Distraction
"This is science fiction for the non-SF reader as well as for hardcore fans of the genre--think Carl Hiassen crossed with Philip K. Dick, with just a dash of Disney magic."
--Kathryn Lively, author of Saints Preserve Us
"In a world of affluence and immortality, the big battles will be fought over culture, not politics. That's the starting-point of Wired contributor Doctorow's daring novel.... Few challenges to copyright giants are as entertaining as this book."
"Cory Doctorow is the most interesting new SF writer I've come across in years. He starts out at the point where older SF writers' speculations end."
--Rudy Rucker, author of Spaceland
"A kinetic, immersive yarn...wholly entertaining."
--The Onion AV Club
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