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Return to Pleasure Island

Originally Published in Realms of Fantasy August 1999

“By design or default, something about this story (and I can’t describe exactly what because I don’t know) disturbed me a great deal, though it’s a well-written and unique take on an old tale. Others may find it more palatable. If Doctorow’s intent was to unsettle, he succeeded…”

- J. G. Stinson,
Tangent Online


Download the plain text version from Cory_Doctorow_-_Return_to_Pleasure_Island.txt.

Paste in links to your own versions below.


16 Responses to “Return to Pleasure Island”

  1. Here’s this story’s intro from the book:

    The most striking thing about cunning artifice is its sudden absence. While the actors are on stage, they can command our complete attention, still the nattering voices in our minds, suspend our disbelief to the rafters. But no matter how magical the action onstage is, it can’t touch the shocking and wildly dissonant moment when the curtain rings down and the lights come up, returning the theatre from a house of wonders to a mundane place of people and things. In that interstitial moment, the hot second when the world slides from fantasy to reality, our brains do a kind of flip-flop that is more interesting than anything on the stage or off it.

    If you ever have the good fortune to be on a Disney ride when it really thoroughly breaks down, you’ll get to experience this. The safety bar comes forward, the lights come up, the animatronics slide to a halt, and secret doorways are revealed leading to utilitarian service corridors tagged with old graffiti and scars from illicit cigarettes. In the moment where you walk from the “onstage” area of the park to the “offstage,” your brain undergoes exactly the same kind of flip-flop. It’s addictive.

    What would it be like to live in that interstitial zone, to be a cast-member at a theme-park, constantly traversing the equator girding the real and fantastic hemispheres?

    And on a slightly different subject: What the hell did Stromboli want to turn Pinocchio and Lampwick into donkeys for, anyway?

    (All the above notwithstanding, this entire story materialized in my head during a trip through the Pinocchio ride in Disneyland’s Fantasyland).

  2. sq says:

    The link to .txt seems to be broken… (PDF works, though.)

  3. Jeremy Keith says:

    The PDF link above points to quick’n'dirty conversion not much different to the original text version (no conversion of quotes, emphasis, etc.). All I’ve done is change the typeface to 12 point Helvetica.

    The width is still fixed at 80 characters.

    I’m sure somebody else will put together some more sophisticated PDFs. This was just a quick fix done using the “Save as pdf” print option under OS X.

  4. Thomas Scott says:

    I’ve converted all the available stories into Palm Reader format, suitable for one-click loading onto a Palm Pilot or Pocket PC (as well as looking rather nice using the Palm Reader for Windows and Macs.)

    The Palm Reader file’s available from here.

  5. I’ve got another Palm Reader version of this story, available here.

  6. Plucker is an open source compressed HTML format for Palm and
    other handheld computers. The reader is available from
    http://www.plkr.org/
    and the converted story is at
    http://home.austin.rr.com/rcp/plucker/Cory_Doctorow_-_Return_to_Pleasure_Island.pdb

  7. HTML versions of all stories can be found here. Converted with txt2html. The width is not fixed to 80 characters.

  8. Two weeks

    Well, it’s been two weeks since I posted anything here so I need to get back at it. I have been posting to my random page and my mblog. I’ve been putting off writing here as I have some serious…

  9. J. G. Stinson says:

    The things one finds when ego-surfing. Thanks to Cory Doctorow for putting a blurb from my Tangent Online review of this fine story right up there at the top of this page. Wow. I guess I’ve arrived. :::ducking:::

  10. Tones, I think you misunderstand. This story has already been published in many places, most notably in my award winning short story collection, “A Place So Foriegn and Eight More” — http://craphound.com/place/buy.php

  11. Prise says:

    Cory Doctorow,
    anyway the story of J. G. Stinson has the right to exist. i liked it very much. Thinking to write my own…:)
    Really, great work. By the way, had some problems with .txt file.

  12. Brian says:

    Well, no problems at all. Everything works properly.
    I’m lucky I found this exact page…by custom reason :)

  13. jonnyflash says:

    I converted this to mobipocket’s prc format, that can be used in many readers, including the Amazon Kindle

    Return_to_Pleasure_Island

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