Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 61 of 61

They didn’t invite me back into the ad-hoc, even after Debra left in Whuffie-penury and they started to put the Mansion back the way it was. Tim called me to say that with enough support from Imagineering, they thought they could get it up and running in a week. Suneep was ready to kill someone, I swear. A house divided against itself cannot stand, as Mr. Lincoln used to say at the Hall of Presidents.

I packed three changes of clothes and a toothbrush in my shoulderbag and checked out of my suite at the Polynesian at ten a.m., then met Jeanine and Dan at the valet parking out front. Dan had a runabout he’d picked up with my Whuffie, and I piled in with Jeanine in the middle. We played old Beatles tunes on the stereo all the long way to Cape Canaveral. Our shuttle lifted at noon.

The shuttle docked four hours later, but by the time we’d been through decontam and orientation, it was suppertime. Dan, nearly as Whuffie-poor as Debra after his confession, nevertheless treated us to a meal in the big bubble, squeeze-tubes of heady booze and steaky paste, and we watched the universe get colder for a while.

There were a couple guys jamming, tethered to a guitar and a set of tubs, and they weren’t half bad.

Jeanine was uncomfortable hanging there naked. She’d gone to space with her folks after Dan had left the mountain, but it was in a long-haul generation ship. She’d abandoned it after a year or two and deadheaded back to Earth in a support-pod. She’d get used to life in space after a while. Or she wouldn’t.

“Well,” Dan said.

“Yup,” I said, aping his laconic drawl. He smiled.

“It’s that time,” he said.

Spheres of saline tears formed in Jeanine’s eyes, and I brushed them away, setting them adrift in the bubble. I’d developed some real tender, brother-sister type feelings for her since I’d watched her saucer-eye her way through the Magic Kingdom. No romance — not for me, thanks! But camaraderie and a sense of responsibility.

“See you in ten to the hundred,” Dan said, and headed to the airlock. I started after him, but Jeanine caught my hand.

“He hates long good-byes,” she said.

“I know,” I said, and watched him go.

The universe gets older. So do I. So does my backup, sitting in redundant distributed storage dirtside, ready for the day that space or age or stupidity kills me. It recedes with the years, and I write out my life longhand, a letter to the me that I’ll be when it’s restored into a clone somewhere, somewhen. It’s important that whoever I am then knows about this year, and it’s going to take a lot of tries for me to get it right.

In the meantime, I’m working on another symphony, one with a little bit of “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” and a nod to “It’s a Small World After All,” and especially “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

Jeanine says it’s pretty good, but what does she know? She’s barely fifty.

We’ve both got a lot of living to do before we know what’s what.


I could never have written this book without the personal support of my friends and family, especially Roz Doctorow, Gord Doctorow and Neil Doctorow, Amanda Foubister, Steve Samenski, Pat York, Grad Conn, John Henson, John Rose, the writers at the Cecil Street Irregulars and Mark Frauenfelder.

I owe a great debt to the writers and editors who mentored and encouraged me: James Patrick Kelly, Judith Merril, Damon Knight, Martha Soukup, Scott Edelman, Gardner Dozois, Renee Wilmeth, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Claire Eddy, Bob Parks and Robert Killheffer.

I am also indebted to my editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden and my agent Donald Maass, who believed in this book and helped me bring it to fruition.

Finally, I must thank the readers, the geeks and the Imagineers who inspired this book.

Cory Doctorow
San Francisco
September 2002

About the author:

Cory Doctorow is Outreach Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation,, and maintains a personal site at He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing at, with more than 250,000 visitors a month. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2000 Hugo Awards. Born and raised in Toronto, he now lives in San Francisco. He enjoys using Google to look up interesting facts about long walks on the beach.

Other books by Cory Doctorow:

A Place So Foreign and Eight More
– short story collection, forthcoming from Four Walls Eight Windows in fall 2003, with an introduction by Bruce Sterling

Essential Blogging, O’Reilly and Associates, 2002
– with Rael Dornfest, J. Scott Johnson, Shelley Powers, Benjamin Trott and Mena G. Trott

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction, Alpha Books, 2000
– co-written with Karl Schroeder


  1. ScottS-M Identiconcomment_author_IP, $comment->comment_author); }else{echo $gravatar_link;}}*/ ?>

    ScottS-M wrote:

    That was pretty catchy. I ended up getting about half-way and then just reading the rest in one go.

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