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Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - Cory Doctorow In the future we've cured disease and death, limitless free energy and no economy to speak of. Instead, people operate in an economy of Whuffie: reputation accorded to you by your peers. The story revolves around an 'ad-hoc': a team of people running the Hall of Presidents and the Haunted Mansion rides at Walt Disney World, Florida. They maintain the rides, manage and staff them, as well as planning improvements. All the while, trying to maintain enough Whuffie to stop other ad-hocs in the park taking their rides over. The novel is fairly dripping with hacker buzzwords and plays on those continuously. I wonder if the lack of exposition would be a hurdle for readers unaware of that language.

It's an attempt to extrapolate the 'meritocracy' of the hacker culture into a full-blown society. And while it's an incredible idea for a story, that's also where it seems to fall down. It's not quite as thought as I would have liked. The Whuffie economy sounds great, but it's blatently open to popularity gaming and even bribes. At times I wondered if the author was attempting to highlight this, but then he just didn't take it far enough. Using Whuffie to purchase things also seemed to make little sense in what is claimed to be a post-scarcity world.

The story itself seemed to tail off almost. Like the author had used up all his ideas now and was just rounding the story off to a close. In the end, it was a story that I feel I wanted to like more than I actually did. The ideas and the premise were so clever that I wanted it to be a better novel that it turned out to be. It was so nearly a four, but not quite. The references to [b:Snow Crash|830|Snow Crash|Neal Stephenson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320544000s/830.jpg|493634] were a neat little pointer, especially as I'd only just finished that book...