Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

12/21/2004

Review: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Okay, here’s another good one.

Though, this is very, very different from Blood Sucking Fiends. I haven’t read anything by Cory Doctrow before, but Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom won awards and has gotten great reviews, so I thought I’d try it. I have to admit, it was pretty damn good. I haven’t read much real science-fiction lately, just a bunch of fantasy, so it was a refreshing change.

The story is set in the far future where people make backup copies of their consciousness which can be downloaded into cloned bodies. This, of course, virtually eliminates death since a new clone can be grown that is much younger than the recently departed. Also, in this brave new world Doctrow has created, money has been replaced by a kind of reputation measurement called a “Whuffie”. If you have lots of Whuffie, you can get good meals at good restaurants. If you don’t have Whuffie, you can wait in line to get nutrient pap from a vending machine. So, with that in mind…
The story is set in Disney World where competing groups of “ad-hocs” (ad-hoc groups of like minded and motivated people) are trying to impose their various visions on the theme park. The story focuses on the battle for Liberty Square, in particular the Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion. It’s actually a very interesting political thriller, in that sense, but always with the well-thought-out science-fiction underpinnings and, again my favorite thing, the sub-plot of human relations. It’s actually sort of hard to describe this book adaquately without giving too much away, but it’s well worth the read. It’s not funny like Blood Sucking Fiends was, but it is very engaging in a more intellectual way. And, most importantly, it was good and distracting!

In any case, it’s a good book and worth spending the money, even at this most consumer time of year.

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