Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

At barely over 200 pages, this book is certainly a quick read (a quiet couple of days in my case). The book is set in a time when scarcity and death no longer exist. The only motivation that people feel is to do things that either A) satisfy their own personal desires or B) increase their reputation and respect among others. Given this setting, the protagonist has chosen to spend his time maintaining the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disney World. While he and his group feel that the attraction is perfect as-is, a fast moving and well respected new group from the Beijing location has moved in and is over-hauling attractions with new technology, and in the process losing the nostalgic magic of the original incarnation.

I liked this book, and I can easily recommend it, but it isn't a great book. The characters are pretty thin and the whole story is very predictable. The vision of what it would mean to live in a world without death, where all the basic necessities are guaranteed, is very good. One bit that I particularly enjoyed was the discussion between the maintainers and the imagineers where a project schedule was reduced from 5 years to 8 weeks through the adoption of Agile development methods vs. the traditional waterfall development process. I'm a big Agile fan. I enjoyed the concept of Whuffie, the new form of currency which dictates your esteem among others, and determines whether you live well or poorly. Someone with low Whuffie score can still get by, but only at a minimum. Whuffie is accumulated through doing things that garner you respect. The more respected you are, the more favors you can pull from others. For instance, with a very high Whuffie score, you could ask a highly respected author to pen your biography. No chance for that with a low whuffie score. Sort of like an eBay feedback score for social interaction.

So for you sci-fi fans out there looking for a read for your next long weekend or plane ride, pick this one up.


Sam said...

I see you found my livejournal. I update it pretty regularly, but I like to keep the whole thing friend-locked as my political views tend to the volatile.

If you make a livejournal account I would be happy to friend you.

Jade Mason