Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a science fiction novella set in Walt Disney World. It tells the story of Jules, who has finally realised his life long dream of living in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney World, the greatest achievement of the twentieth century is now under the care of a network of volunteer “ad-hocs” who keep the attractions running as they always have, with only small high-tech enhancements. However there is a small groups of ad-hocs who want to bring Disney World into the modern era with new technology. Jules and his friends oppose this because they want to keep the park the way it was in the 20th century, technology, story lines, and all. For Jules this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself. But what can he do?
This book is a fascinating portrayal of how our social interactions might change in a digital world. When most commodities can be replicated at no cost, scarce resources like reputation and skill acquire new value. This economy of regard has already taken hold in some parts of the internet and Doctorow has extended this structure to society at large and shows how an individuals fortune can rise and tumble with the whims of the crowd.
I will admit this book has a few problems. The story was very rushed at some points which made it difficult to understand, the last 20 pages in particular. However even though I was a tad confused in some places I really enjoyed this book. I mean seriously, how many books do you come across that are set in Walt Disney World.