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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  12,369 ratings  ·  1,261 reviews
On The Skids In The Transhuman Future

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 in the k
Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 5th 2003 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2003)
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DBeen Yes, seems like a good teen read. I'd rate it a pretty inoffensive PG-13 …moreYes, seems like a good teen read. I'd rate it a pretty inoffensive PG-13 (less)

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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,369 ratings  ·  1,261 reviews

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Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit, sci-fi
One of the many complaints I hear about Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is that it is "shallow." Readers see a shallowness in character, a shallowness in the work they choose, a shallowness in story depth, and a shallowness in the story's morality.

I don't see it myself.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom may seem shallow, but there is a great deal of depth to be found if one approaches the book with a willingness to overcome the prejudices and perspectives of our current cultur
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory Doctorow’s debut novel first published in 2003 is a uniquely anti-dystopian science fiction offering in a landscape of post-apocalyptic also-rans.

In a world where many writers are dreaming up new variations on the old 1984 theme, Doctorow delivers a pleasingly nonconformist tale where most pestilential elements of the dystopian brand have been made a thing of the past. There is enough food in the world, illness has been all but eliminated and people get to
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Cory Doctorow
Recommended to Joel by: Cory Doctorow
Even though I find him massively annoying in the way I always find professional bloggers annoying (read: if I am honest with myself, it probably has mostly to do with jealousy), I have to admit, I think it is pretty cool that Cory Doctorow gives away all of his books for free (the smug bastard).

I listened to a surprisingly well-produced amateur audiobook of this one about a year ago (you can probably still grab it free from... wherever it was I found it. and even though I didn'
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: transhumanism, sci-fi
Out of every sci-fi movement that has come and gone, my absolute favorites are the glorious post-cyberpunk transhumanism movement. Can I have the application form now, please? Thanks to Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow, I get to be giddy on the tides of consciousness uploads and post-scarcity economics. Who said utopian fiction was dead? Please, oh please, give me MORE!
Geoff Carter
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
Messy, unfocused. Characters are poorly-formed and unlikeable. Doctorow starts out with several intriguing conceits -- eternal life though computer-style backups and clones, the evolution of themed environments, hard currency replaced by popular esteem -- but he can't decide which one he finds most intriguing, and he even loses those prime notions a few times through needless tangents.

Doctorow obviously loves the cyberpunk novels of Neal Stephenson (which are themselves a tangle of ideas and tan
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
It’s a future post scarcity, post death and reputation(popularity) matters. Permanently connected, enhanced bodies, clones waiting if you get ill or have an accident, backup regularly so you don’t lose any memories. It’d an interesting world that the author has created here. Unfortunately the setting for the story is Disneyworld and I just couldn’t get into it that much. I’m not really a theme park kind of person. The main storyline revolves around either keeping attractions traditional or using ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Like I often do, I went into this book blind, not knowing anything about the plot, and I assumed the title was some sort of a metaphor for a superficial society. In fact, most of the book is actually set within Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

My progress through the book went something like this:
1. At the end of the prologue, I was positive I would hate this book.

2. At the end of chapter 1, I decided there might be some hope after all.

3. Somewhere around the middle of the book, I realized my Kin
Simon Rindy
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Bookclubs; Utopians/Dystopians; Anyone who actually believes the Singularity is Near....
Here we are, living and dying (again) in Orange County, FLA.

Thought provoking cocktail party fodder. I disliked Doctorow’s mitten-fisted writing, banal hippie-dippy characters (Beatles references included); however, the points I found interesting don’t concern the people as much as the technology.

Don't bother to savor the words. Read it quickly for the premise, then debate the promise of "TomorrowLand."

Essentially a problematic book that I disliked in execution, but highly discussable.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is only 200 pages long, and it's far too short. The plot is rushed through at breakneck speed, and wrapped up far, far too quickly, with almost no time given to bringing the whole thing in for a landing.

Part of that is because Doctorow puts quite a bit of time into developing his Bitchun society. Death has been essentially eliminated. If you die, your consciousness is uploaded into a clone and you start over again. Tired of living? "Deadhead" for awhile by havin
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, science-fiction
Super fun and nuts-yet-realistic-honestly look at a future where Disney World (along with everything else) is run by groups of "ad hoc" governments. Julius, a young man of barely a century, is part of the group that rules/maintains Liberty Square, and his favorite part is The Haunted Mansion. When a hostile takeover starts to happen, Julius scrambles to fight back.

Hilariously fun for Disney fans, as Doctorow himself is a big Disney nerd. There's a lot of clear love for the park here, and for al
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2008
Cory Doctorow's novella spins a tale set in the "Bitchun society" - a time in the future where death has been cured and money has been replaced by a system of respect/popularity points that's immediately accessible since everyone somehow has the internet in their heads now.

The "Magic Kingdom" referenced in the title is THE Magic Kingdom - the story takes place in Disney World, which has taken on an elevated importance in a world where people no longer have jobs or, essentially, purpose.

It's sho
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sandi by: SciFi and Fantasy Book Club August Theme Book
Shelves: 2008, sci-fi
As a native Southern Californian who has been to Disneyland a minimum of once per year since before birth, how could I pass up a book that combines science fiction with Disney?

I was really torn between giving this three stars or four. It scores high for creativity. It's got a very tight plot and some interesting ideas. It takes place at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I've been there once, but it's so much like Disneyland that all the ride references made sense even if the geography changed. It's
Apr 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
Don't be drawn in by the author's reputation. Don't be drawn in by an interesting premise. Don't be drawn in by some of the impassioned defenses here. This book had no redeeming qualities. It reads like fan fiction, and bad fan fiction at that – very poorly written, laden with typos. All the characters are two dimensional, and the women are pure male fantasy. Frankly, the whole thing didn't add up for me. This is a world in which there is no death, but the narrative tension is dependent on murde ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Cory Doctorow is one of the high profile current crop of sci-fi authors, he is also famous for his blogs on Boing Boing, and his stance on liberalising copyright laws (he even got into a trouble with the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin for posting an article she wrote on his web site.

The first book I read of Doctorow’s was Little Brother I enjoyed it very much though I felt that the prose and dialog could be a little better. Three years later I just got around to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, h
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a debut novel by Cory Doctorow, which was nominated for Nebula in 2004 (lost to Paladin of Souls). I read is as a part of monthly reading for January 2021 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

This is a strange utopia – just like living now it is much better than quality of living for 99% of population during 99% of the history but we (quite correctly) find a lot to be dissatisfied about. In this post scarcity future everyone has enough to live forever – there is a system of cloning
Aug 03, 2008 added it
In Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, times sure seem to have changed from today. Something called "Free Energy" has basically eliminated scarcity, while the ability to make computer backups of the self and download them into cloned bodies has eliminated death (and, for that matter, revolutionized medicine, since all defects can be fixed by downloading to a new body). Without scarcity, both work and money have become more or less obsolete, and been replaced by Whuffie, which meas ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Damn, now I want to go to Disneyland. This book has everything I love about Doctorow- cool sci-fi concepts with interesting characters and plot that don't involve the world ending. So much current sci-fi is about space battles or apocalypses, and his stories are always about people. I thought Julius was a hilarious main character, and I totally felt for him when he did everything with good intentions and still never came out on top. The ruling thought/philosophy in this society is called "Bitchu ...more
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Amendment to review 1_14_21 -- Although I originally gave this 2 stars, I have had to come back and make the rating higher. Why? Because even though I did not like the MC here, I had a lot more fun reading this book than I did reading Attack Surface, which I just finished, and which is also by Doctorow. So it seems that this one should be rated higher than 2.

It's funny, I really think Doctorow is a wonderful wordsmith and worldbuilder, but I am not all that crazy about what I have read of his.
Jason Pettus
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
(The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

Okay, so it's finally time; time for me to finally make my way through the complete works of cutting-edge science-fiction author Cory Doctorow. After all, he's one of the four editors of my favorite website of all time, the profoundly unique pop-culture journal Boing Boing; and Doctorow's also a big champion of the exact political issues CCLaP cares about as well, including copyright
Brian Clegg
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite sure where I picked up a recommendation for this book, but I'm glad I did as I've been able to add Cory Doctorow to my fairly short list of contemporary science fiction writers that I truly enjoy.

In this entertaining short novel, Doctorow takes on the classic SF question of 'What if?' for something that genuinely could come to pass - the no wage economy, where everyone gets the basics they need and it's up to them, through ad-hoc arrangements, to find ways to earn social credit to
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
I really like the idea behind this book and its general plot but Doctorow tries to introduce so many concepts and ideas that it gets all too confusing. The book is quite short but it becomes boring rather quickly and the unlikeable characters certainly don't help. I think this would have worked much better as a short story. It is certainly disappointing as a novel. ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf
Provide free fuel -- check
Abolish money -- check
Conquer death -- check

What have you got? One Bitchun society!

Doctorow's novel takes place in a not too distant future where all the above and more have been achieved. Much of what exists is the predictive stuff you read about in popular magazines today: our computers are embedded within our bodies, we make phone calls through our cochlea, etc. That conquering death thing could still be someways off. Happy participants in the Bitchun society do freq
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm torn when it comes to Cory Doctorow. In one sense, I am totally into the fact that the guy is obviously a student of 80's cyberpunk and computer technology in general. However, when I read this book, something didn't seem right about the whole thing. The best analogy I can come up with is working hard all day and thinking about eating steak for dinner, but then coming home to find out that you're getting a McDonald's cheeseburger. The technology and the ideas are there, but the story did not ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
A posthuman novel set at Disney World? Wow, this book was written for me! It's been about a century or so since a cure for death and the end of scarcity, and backups of people are downloaded into clones if they die. The narrator Julius works at Walt Disney World as part of an ad-hoc committee that controls Liberty Square. The Disney cast actually makes their own management decisions! Woohoo, no hierarchy in the Disney workplace. Maybe that only excites me because I used to work there and found i ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I thought the general premise was interesting, and I was invested in learning more about this world that Doctorow had created, but I also think he wrote himself into a corner with that premise. By eliminating death as a real consequence and then using a murder (plus the threat of more murders) as the catalyst for the plot, he stripped the narrative tension away. One of the first things I learned was that death is a minor inconvenience, so then the murder didn't really mean much to me, no matter ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a boring, pointless book. It had a few interesting ideas regarding the future but overall I found myself just not caring about the plot (who the hell cares what happens to rides in Disneyland in a future where NO ONE DIES?!?) or any of the annoying unlikable characters.
The man child of a protagonist who lived multiple lives but always found someone to blame for his lot grew tiresome, but I guess that's just part of the Disney World would experience.

2.5 stars
Lisabet Sarai
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What if you were effectively immortal? If, in the event of a fatal accident or disease (or murder), your backed-up consciousness could simply be reloaded into a young, cloned body? You’d have centuries to create new things, to learn new skills, to explore – or to get permanently bored and choose voluntary death.

What if money had disappeared, and instead, the world ran on a currency of reputation? If your wealth was measured in the number of likes you got, the number of shares, claps, stars and b
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
When I started to wrap my head around the world that Doctorow was laying out, I had trouble figuring out what would be the conflict of this book. It's pretty hard core science fiction, full of predictions of technologies and their social ramifications. If we no longer had to fear death or illness and no one went without shelter and food and copious entertainment, what kind of conflicts would be left? Whenever you have a utopia novel, it usually ends in either discovering that the utopia is actua ...more
Doctorow treads well-traveled ground here. There's a bit of Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi, a dash of Vernor Vinge's True Names, and a soupçon of post-cyberpunk transhumanism, all stirred into a deceptively simple story.

Plenty of other reviewers give a run-down of the plot dealing with rival groups in Disney World, but I feel like he's saying that the seeds of the things that destroy our relationships and ruin the good things we have are always planted by us, and that we can only move ahead once w
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Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers. He is a Fellow for the Elec ...more

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