Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (Dec 2003)
This is an odd one.
It's sometime a few centuries in the future. The capitalist system has gone, money no longer used. Instead, people want the admiration and respect of the peers, and this is measured and known as 'Whuffie'. In addition, effective immortality has arrived with the ability to back-up one's brain and restore it into a new body. In the middle of this scenario is our protagonist Jules, who has been spending the last umpty-um years in Disneyland, helping to run the Haunted Mansion.
(Oh yes, the political system has changed too: it's pretty much a libertarian wet dream, with 'ad-hocs' running things for as long as they get support.)
When another ah-hoc, run by Debra who has gained a reputation trying things out at the Beijing Disneyworld, arrives and starts making radical changes to the Hall of Presidents, Jules and his cohorts feel threatened. Jules being murdered only makes that threat more intense.
This is a story of growing up and moving on: Jules has been doing the same thing for so long that he's become stale. He's also not very mature for someone supposedly over a century old, and the reader will want to slap some sense into him. However, this is still an interesting look at a possible societal model. It may be deeply implausible, but that doesn't really matter.
This is the least didactic of the Doctorow novels that I've read: it's an exposition of a respect-based economy, but the plot and that exposition work off each other in a much more natural way than some of his others.
On the whole, pretty good.