Length: ~5.5 hr
Reader: Mark Douglas Nelson
The book: How great would it be to live in a world without death and without need? Would everyone be happy? Would everything be perfect? In his first novel, Cory Doctorow imagines a not-so-distant future in which people have the ability to upload their consciousness into a digital format, allowing them to “restore from backup” should anything go wrong with their physical bodies, such as death. Problems of food supply, basic needs, and pollution have been taken care of through technological advance, so there’s no need for money as we think of it. Instead, people accumulate “whuffie,” a digital currency based on social standing and creative accomplishments.
In this society, the protagonist Jules is living in Disney World and working on restoring the animatronics to the vision of the park’s engineers. This puts him at odds with others who would like the attractions to be updated to the latest brain-immersive technology. If this doesn’t seem like an incredibly important conflict, then we’re in agreement. While the ideas and world expressed in this book are fascinating, the story and characters fall a bit flat.
Rating: 7 / 10
Reader: Mark Douglas Nelson has a radio announcer’s voice that’s clear and expressive. His declamatory style can seem a bit corny sometimes, but I’ve rather have his voice than someone who doesn’t care. The recordings have a bit of music played over the beginning and end of each section, but the story itself is unaccompanied and clean.
Buy a paperback copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom