But everyone knew her as Nancy

At the recommendation of a colleague, I finally got around to reading Cory Doctorow’s 2003 sci-fi masterpiece Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I started reading it earlier today, and pretty much scarfed it down, start to finish, in a single gulp.

The most fun thing about this book, which takes place about 150 years in the future, is that all of the advanced technology — the cochlear implants, the built-in heads up displays, the casual use of finger and hand gestures as user interface, even the ability to upload our memories and download ourselves into new bodies — are not the focus.

Rather, these are just the starting point. They are simple givens, like automobiles or washing machines. The real focus of the book is on what people are like in such a reality, how they relate to each other — the world of friends, lovers, mentors and rivals, human concerns that are as old as time.

The same issues that tug at our hearts, the same mysterious bonds that tie us to each other, yet manifest themselves differently with every newly developed form of communication.

If only he hadn’t gotten the lyrics wrong to Rocky Raccoon. I’m still trying to figure out whether he did that on purpose.

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