Once upon a time, not so long ago, I worked in a magical kingdom in Florida. It was filled with many wonderful characters who spent the nights drinking and partying and the days fulfilling people’s wishes… Even if that wish was to find the nearest toilets.
It was a wonderful experience working at Walt Disney World, so wonderful in fact that I even brought a wife home as a souvenir, or should I say she brought me home, as it was her that brought me to England. Still it wasn’t so wonderful that I would have wanted to spend the rest of eternity living and working in ‘the happiest place on Earth’. Which is exactly the premise of Cory Doctorow‘s book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
Set in the future, death has been eliminated as one of life’s worries. If you get sick, injured or even killed than the Bitchun Society will just create a clone of you and implant your new brain with all the information backed-up from your old one, so you will theoretically live forever. Which is exactly the situation of Down and Out’s protagonist Julian, who has worked in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World for centuries. Not a bad concept for a novel, but a concept doesn’t always make for a good story.
Littered with jargon that is never is explained, and plagued by a storyline that loses its way occasionally, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a novel of high concepts but mediocre quality. Perhaps because it is so short (208 pages), or because it was the author’s first novel, the story feels rushed. The characters also, with the exception of the main character Julian, are never given the time to fully develop, and some of them remain lifeless, like the clones they are. Of course, any science-fiction fan, or Disney Castmember Alumni (like myself) can forgive the shortcomings of this novel, because the ride was a fun one, even if I was slightly confused some of the time.
About the Author
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of young adult novels like HOMELAND, PIRATE CINEMA and LITTLE BROTHER and novels for adults like RAPTURE OF THE NERDS and MAKERS. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada,he now lives in London.