Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

This originally was posted to "Dickens of a Blog".

Let's say it is about four years ago, give or take. Lived with a guy who, despite the fact that I can honestly say that I will probably never speak with him again, had one hell of a reading habit. The man could destroy books with speed. He spent most of his time with Baen sf/mil/his style novels and hated getting into anything real deep (the deepest he got was sheer pleasure at reading and re-reading Cryptonomicon). This man turned me on to a writer named Cory Doctorow and his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

The keyword to the turning on process was "free".

As much as I loved books, I was worse than a poor man. I was a poor man that had no money. What I did have was a computer, though sliding towards antiquated. And I had an internet connection.

At the time my experience with electronic format books was a bit thin. Thin enough to not be much of anything, really. I probably had a harddrive 90% full of bootlegged media, and I likely had about half a dozen books on there at the generous estimate. Ebooks are a thing you build up toward. You cannot read the King James Bible in eBook format with no real coaching. There is a different way of turning the page. A different way of seeing with your eye (to keep you from getting eye strain). There is a different flow to how the words are laid out. You do not get that "sheets of paper in my hand" feeling.

Being roughly an ebook virgin (at least an ebook "never more than third base"), I had trouble getting into the ebb and flow. I could tell it was a good story. I could tell that it was a pretty damn good story. But that means little in the long run if my body just did not want to read it. I put it aside, though kept a saved PDF on my harddrive. It was enough to lead me to later pick up his surreal Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and it was enough to lead me (along with rave reviews) to read Overclocked. In a mirror reflection, those two experiences led me back to the original Down and Out.

A few days ago, if asked, I would have said that 1) you (and you know who you are) need to read Cory Doctorow, 2) most of his good stuff is free for a download, and 3) "After the Siege" (the novella/short story from OVerclocked) was my favorite. The former two are true still, except #1 does not quite sum it up. You really need to read a little bit of his work.

Number 3, though, has changed. My first gasp of Cory Doctorow love, a strange little novel about Disney World, the Bitchun society, and spending Whuffie after death is a memory, has become my favorite. I devoured the book in under about two hours. Then, I let a friend borrow it. Last I saw, he was about two-three hours in and getting close to being done. He was afraid I was going to take it back from him instead of letting him finish.

In other words. Read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I could tell you why it is good, but that won't do you for anything and might spoil something.

Written by W Doug Bolden

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