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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  11,385 ratings  ·  1,152 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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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,385 ratings  ·  1,152 reviews

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Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, canadian-lit
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
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Cory Doctorow
Recommended to unknown 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'
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 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, transhumanism
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
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.
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, science-fiction
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
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 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
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
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sandi by: SciFi and Fantasy Book Club August Theme Book
Shelves: sci-fi, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
In a lot of science fiction, plot and characters are merely vehicles for the author's vision of his world. Philip K. Dick is not remembered for his creation of Bob Arctor, for instance, but for his postulation of a existence where identity is as fluid and changeable as the clothes you wear.

Cory Doctorow's world in the Magic Kingdom made a lasting impression on me, though i remember his characters less than his world. This is not to say that plot or characters are weak in any way, but that the w
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
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
✘✘ 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.
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.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Very imaginative, but my disinterest in DisneyWorld is such that I didn't actually care about the plot of the book -- just some of the SF concepts explored in it, like transferable consciousness, the end of death, and social media-esque karma system that functions as currency.

In the not-very-distant future, death is an inconvenience, and material goods are no longer scarce. Instead, the currency of society is reputation, and Jules needs all of his reserves to get through the next year of his li
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
La traduction du titre en français dit tout. Une traduction grotesque qui gâche terriblement le plaisir de lecture. Je serais curieux de retenter l'expérience en langue originale, car la traduction est particulièrement mauvaise, un français de France, loin du français considéré international, et en tant que québécois, ce français m'agresse énormément. Pour l'oeuvre en soit, on se retrouve dans un monde de science-fiction, mais on sent que l'auteur se sert en fait de ce monde pour passer une crit ...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
Angus McKeogh
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nothing terrible. The world Doctorow built was unique and inventive, and I was anticipating that the setting in Disney World would be utterly one-of-a-kind. And the setting was fantastic and the sci-fi aspects were original, but the story (and the murder mystery) I found just mildly interesting. So the book as a whole was merely okay in my experience.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a quirky, Sci-Fi book set primarily in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, specifically the Haunted Mansion and the Hall of Presidents. The future was interesting in a could-be-creepily-accurate way. I think I liked it because I related to the main character in the weird details.
(view spoiler) ...more
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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 Electron ...more
“I mean, you can't be a revolutionary after the revolution, can you? Didn't we all struggle so that kids like Lil wouldn't have to?” 6 likes
“It's good versus evil, Dan. You don't want to be a post-person. You want to stay human. The rides are human. We each mediate them through our own experience. We're physically inside of them, and they talk to us through our senses. What Debra's people are building--it's hive-mind [stuff:]. Directly implanting thoughts! Jesus! It's not an experience, it's brainwashing!” 6 likes
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