Fri 21 Nov 2008
Cory Doctorow is pretty famous on the internet. He’s originally Canadian, although he may live in the U.S., where he writes full-time, between BoingBoing.net and his fictional endeavors, and he is much sought-after as a lecturer and speaker on various topics relating to copyright/copyleft, intellectual property, the internet, and science fiction. He’s written four novels and a couple collections of short stories; I’ve reviewed Little Brother and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town already. This novel was his first published full-length work; it was published in 2003. Mr. Doctorow’s other claim to fame, at least on my review site, is that all of his books are readily available as Free (Legal) Books on the Internet; he has made sure that they are all available via a Creative Commons license on various websites. I read this one via DailyLit.com.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set in the future, probably about a hundred years or so, where people don’t die anymore due to the ability to download one’s entire brain and restore it into a cloned copy of one’s body. Governmental entities have been replaced by ‘ad-hocs,’ which appears to be shorthand for an ad-hoc group of whoever’s interested in doing whatever it is, and monetary currency has been replaced by Whuffie, which is a score of how much respect other people have for you. Julius lives in this world; he’s a hundred and twentyish when the book starts, and he lives in Disney World. He’s a member of an ad-hoc that runs a certain portion of the place. One of his old friends, Dan, calls him up; he’s broke (very low Whuffie) and sick of life and wants to die. Julius convinces him to live long enough to restore his Whuffie, and he does. However, strange things are afoot at Disney World. There’s another ad-hoc that seems as if it may be making a play for the place. Can Julius survive, and keep his Whuffie score? (more…)