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Literature / Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

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A novel by Cory Doctorow set in the future of the Bitchun Society, which has abolished conventional money (replaced by Whuffie, a complex reputation-based system), scarcity (cheap renewable energy and nano-assemblers), death (brain uploads and subsequent downloads to fast-grown clones), and government (entirely ad-hoc structures).

The story chronicles one of a group of adhocrats running The Haunted Mansion at Disney World, trying to solve his own murder after he is killed prior to the hostile takeover of said attraction by another ad-hoc committee.

Tropes present in this novel:

  • Body Backup Drive: Everybody has access to cloned bodies that they can download their memories into when they die.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Yes, everyone's effectively immortal and money has disappeared, but half the characters smoke crack to overcome how boring the world is, while a bunch of others have put their minds in storage until something interesting happens.
  • Disney Theme Parks: Primarily set in them, particularly a future Magic Kingdom.
  • Drugs Are Good: Since addiction is easily cured and health consequences don't mean much to immortals, there are casual in-passing references to the main character's girlfriend smoking crack.
  • Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: No one so much as bats an eyelash at the Mayfly–December Romance anymore, since physically nearly everyone has a twenty-something body.
    • Subverted in that the age difference between the protagonist and his girlfriend does cause some problems. The first chapter opens:
      My girlfriend was 15 percent of my age, and I was old-fashioned enough that it bugged me.
  • Human Popsicle: "Deadheading" and Keep-A-Movin' Dan's decision to deadhead until the heat-death of the universe. A different technical implementation of the trope, since the bodies aren't actually on ice, the minds are just sitting in backup to be restored at some future date (as opposed to ASAP). The same issues apply, though (in particular, would-be deadheaders wonder whether crowded future generations won't just decide to leave them in storage indefinitely).
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: Taken to extremes, since people in the Bitchun society will evidently deal with a cold by backing up their minds, offing themselves, and resurrecting into a clone. Plus, the main character is murdered by someone who just wants him out of the way temporarily, since they know that killing him will just be an inconvenience.
  • Memory Gambit: Debra reverted to an earlier backup after planning Julius' murder so she wouldn't have any knowledge of the plot. Her co-conspirator Dan was supposed to as well, but he didn't and eventually confessed.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: The reputation economy basically behaves like this if your Whuffie is low enough. Since money has apparently disappeared, personal reputation is the only standard to determine who gets served (you can get free stuff from the automated systems, but not being able to deal with humans is still a pain in the ass).
  • No-Paper Future: When the main character's implants are offline, he mentions that he temporarily has to live like a caveman: "surrounded by dead trees and ticking clocks."
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: Keep-A-Movin' Dan has lost purpose and wants to die.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: The Bitchun society has eliminated scarcity and replaced conventional currency with a reputation meter, the problems of which Doctorow had to explicitly spell out.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Partially averted, there are some downsides to the Bitchun Revolution. Depending on your philosophical views, immortality by backup might be more Nightmare Fuel than not, but everyone in the book's society who felt that way has simply died off, out-competed by the immortals. The reputation-based currency also stifles some sorts of innovation, as going against the crowd is a sure-fire way to end up impoverished.
    • The book also mentions a transitional phase in Bitchun when a group of students declared an adhocratic coup against their university professor over the way the class was run, turning the class into a non-functional anarchy.
  • Shout-Out: Chapter 6 includes the "Snow Crash Spectacular Parade" along with Sushi-K reenacting the journey of Hiro Protagonist.
  • Socially Scored Society: The setting features a Post-Scarcity Economy where instead of conventional money people have a "Whuffie" rating that goes up or down based on other people's opinions of them. After the protagonist speaks out against the antagonist's planned renovations of Disney World his Whuffie drops so low that his scooter gets swiped the moment he turns his back on it and elevator doors don't open for him.
  • Staying Alive: Immortality by backup.
  • Suicide Is Painless: And, in the book's world, often very temporary.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Dan was able to buy suicide drugs from a chemist fairly easily.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: The protagonist was restored from backup after being murdered, and he's trying to find out who.