Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a 2003 science fiction book, the first novel by Canadian author and digital-rights activist Cory Doctorow . Concurrent with its publication by Tor Books , published under the Creative Commons license, the author of the book is authorized to publish it.

The novel was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2004.


  • Julius (also known as Jules), the narrator of the book, is more than a century old. His childhood dream is living at Disney World (aka “The Magic Kingdom”).
  • Lil, age 23, with long red hair and freckles, is Jules’ girlfriend. She is 15 percent of Jules’ age, but outwardly the same age. She was raised in Walt Disney World.
  • Dan is Jules’ best male friend. He is a former missionary for the Bitchun utopia who has lost the will to live now that there are no technophobes left to convert.
  • Debra is one of the old guard of Disney World and was a comrade of Lil ‘parents before they went deadhead. She spent a decade in Disneyland Beijing, sim-wrinkle coding.
  • Tim is a programmer of synthetic memories.
  • Tom and Rita are Lil’s parents who were “members of the original ad hoc that had been operating in their own private preserve”.
  • Zed (also known as Zoya) is a transhuman who was married to Julius for 18 months, went crazy, and reverted to a backup from before she puts Julius.


  • ” Bitchun Society ” is the dominant earth in which rejuvenation and body-enhancement have been made obsolete, materials are not longer scarce, and everyone is granted.
  • Whuffie , a form of digital social reputations and replacements. This rating system determines who is the best seller, a table in a crowded restaurant, or a good place in a queue for a theme park attraction.
  • “Deadhead” is a verb and a noun for suspended animation ; which is done for two-hour plane trips, lengthy space travels, and ten thousand year substitutes for suicide.
  • Adhocracy is a type of organization that is an opposite of bureaucracy that has replaced corporations .
  • “Refresh” or “restore from backup” is the cure for dying; which consists of creating a “force-grown” clone and downloading into its mind. Synthesized memories (from other data sources filling in the time gap between last backup and death) were created in the book.
  • HERF gun is a form of electromagnetic weapon , a narrow cylinder the length of a high energy radio frequency. It Generates a variable-spread yet and Focused directional beam That can punch through a floor or wall and fuse everything there gold can be used to disable the electronic interface in brain without Hanning That brain; but is blocked by a Faraday cage .
  • “Sim-wrinkle” are AI software driven simulations of reality That communicate with Each Other and with the guests, greeting by name em Each Time They ride and spinning age-appropriate tales related to the theme of the ride.


This future history book takes place in the 22nd century, mostly in Walt Disney World . Disney World is run by rival adhocracies , each dedicated to providing the best experience to the park’s visitors and competing for the Whuffie the guests offer.

Plot summary

Julius, whose old college buddy is one of the most popular people in the country (as measured by Whuffie). Julius and girlfriend Lil are working with the committee (called Expired year ad hoc ) That Oversees the Magic Kingdom ‘s Liberty Square . Dan, who has hit rock bottom and lost all his Whuffie, does not believe in rejuvenation and wishes to die, but not while he’s at rock bottom. He moves in with Julius and Lil in order to rebuild his life. At the park, Julius is murdered and soon refreshed. By the time he wakes up, Debra’s ad hoc group has taken control of the Hall of Presidents , and is planning to replace its old-fashioned animatronicwith the synthetic memory imprinting of the experience of being the president for a moment. Julius believes that this rival committee had been so distracted that it could not be done in the interim.

Fearing that they will try to revamp his favorite ride, the Haunted Mansion , he resolves to take a stand against the virtualization of the park, endangering his relationship with both Lil and Dan; eventually Lil leaves Julius for Dan. Julius finally “cracks” when he sees his dreams in the Hall of Presidents, in the process also damaging his own cranial interface to the point that he can no longer back himself up. Debra and her colleagues enough “sympathy Whuffie” to take over the Haunted Mansion, by invitation of the same fans that Julius had recruited to work in the Mansion.

Dan leaves Lil, Julius is kicked out of the ad hocand his Whuffie hits rock bottom – what ‘s up? Then comes the revelation: A few days before Dan’s planned suicide by lethal injection, Dan reveals that it was in fact he who had arranged to kill Julius, in collusion with Debra, in exchange for the Whuffie. Dan had asked one of his converts from his missionary days, a young girl, to do dirty work. Debra then came back from this plan, so that she would be honestly believing that she was not involved. He makes this public; Debra is thrown out, Julius gets sympathy Whuffie and, ironically enough, he develops a friendly affection for his sweet young murderer. He never restores himself, because doing so would erase his memories of that year, his last with Dan, but lives with his damaged interface. The book is in the making, when this incarnation is eventually killed by an accident or accident. Dan decides to take a lethal injection, but to deadheadheat death of the Universe .

Cultural cross references

  • Chapter 5 includes a description of a “Snow Crash Spectacular Parade ” based on Neal Stephenson ‘s Snow Crash book .
  • The book contains references to the Beatles song ” Rocky Raccoon “. Julius’ girlfriend leaves him for his friend Dan, just as Lil leaves Rocky Raccoon for a man named Dan in the song. At the beginning of the book, Jules and Lil sing some lyrics from the song.
  • Doctorow’s short story “Truncat” is also set in the Bitchun Society, sometime after the events of Down and Out .
  • Doctorow’s short story “I, Row Boat,” a play on words of Isaac Asimov ‘s I, Robot , aussi Appears to be set in the Sami universe (though more distantly future), with references to artificial uploading and downloading of intelligence, purpose no explicit mention of the Bitchun Society or Whuffie.
  • The title is a reference to George Orwell ‘s Down and Out in Paris and London .


On February 12, 2004, Doctorow re-licensed his book under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (by-nc-sa) license. The the the…………………. Without. Without. Without. Without. Without. Without. Without. Without. Already, fans of the book have begun Russian and Spanish translations, an audio book version, and several amusing re-arrangements of the text. Doctorow has noted that he is pleased that his people are building on his work, and that he hopes that further innovations will follow.

In spite of that, in 2007 invalid DMCA takedown notices were scented by Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) with regard to this novel. [1] [2] [3] Cory Doctorow said, ” Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was released under a Creative Commons license, and I’ve spent a few years exhorting fans to copy my work and share it. I am a hypocrite who uses SFWA to send a message to those who heeded my exhortation. ” [1]

Release details

  • 2003, US, Tor Books ( ISBN  0-7653-0436-8 ), Pub Date 1 February 2003, Hardcover
  • 2003, US, Tor Books (ISBN?), Pub Date? February 2003, e-Book
  • 2003, US, Tor Books ( ISBN  0-7653-0953-X ), Pub Date December 5, 2003, Paperback

See also

  • Whuffie
  • 2003 in literature
  • Postcyberpunk
  • Transhumanism
  • adhocracy
  • Post scarcity
  • Subvocal recognition
  • Liberty Square


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Arstechnica article Worse than Vogon poetry: DMCA bogus takedowns stun sci-fi lovers published August 31, 2007
  2. Jump up^ Chris Meadows,SFWA issues mistakenly broad DMCA takedown notice-unwittingly harming sci-fi writers such as Cory Doctorow ArchivedDecember 5, 2011, at theWayback Machine., August 31, 2007, TeleRead
  3. Jump up^ Cory Doctorow,Science Fiction Writers of America Abuses the DMCA, August 30, 2007, Boingboing

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