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The City, Not Long After Paperback – April 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intersecting spheres of dreams and earthly passions that marked Murphy's recent novel The Falling Woman and her novelette "Rachel in Love" (both Nebula Award winners in 1988) continue in this story of a depopulated San Francisco. In the wake of a devastating worldwide plague, the handful of artists who have transformed the city with mirror mazes, self-propelled clockwork creatures and a coat of blue paint on the Golden Gate Bridge find that the city itself collaborates in unpredictable ways, from rains of flowers--or frogs--to the appearance of angels. When megalomaniac General Miles threatens the city, newcomer Jax works with painter Danny-boy, mechanical genius The Machine and others on a pacifist version of guerrilla warfare. Too often this novel recalls the studiously surreal antiwar stories of the '60s. A sweet fable, this is pleasing but evanescent, fading like the half-forgotten dreams it delicately evokes.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

After a deadly plague sweeps the world, toppling governments in its wake, a few surviving artists who have claimed San Francisco as their home wage an unorthodox war against an invading army intent on bringing the blessings of law and order to a community that has discovered a better way of life. The author of The Falling Woman , a Nebula Award winner, evokes a haunting vision of life after society's collapse, as art becomes magic and combines with the power of love to defeat the engines of war. Highly recommended.-- JC
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird (April 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142404055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142404058
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By H Waterhouse on March 8, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book because Pat Murphy is a guest at Fogcon, and because it's about San Francisco. I really enjoyed it. I am not really bothered by post-apocalyptic books, but I am bothered by dystopian books (I can read them, but I seldom choose to). This books is post-apocalyptic but not at all dystopian. It's magical realism after everything and nothing has changed.

In some ways, I wish I'd read this before I'd ever read Dhalgren. There are a lot of superficial similarities, themes about coming of age and bridges and crystals and fog and violence and sex. I couldn't help thinking of and contrasting them as I read along. But in the end, The City, Not Long After is a profoundly hopeful book about both nonviolence and stepping away from one's principles in times of crisis.

I liked most of the characters, and laughed at General "Miles" as the most apropos name possible, although I originally misread it as General Mills, which was also funny. Danny-boy was especially appealing -- simple and loving, but not stupid. The city is also a beautiful and animate character.

The magical realism was well-handled. It could be easy to make it schmaltzy, but it wasn't, and I thought that was pretty impressive for a book where someone's tears turned into butterflies that turned into paint. There were some stumbles of predictability -- i resented the obligatory sacrifice-of-self-for-LUV, but it was at least more joyful than emo. It is also odd to read a post-apocalyptic book written in the 80's. The cold war was still everpresent, but there were typewriters in offices, and Macy's had a NOTIONS COUNTER. You know, like you could still buy things to sew at department stores. Wow.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D.S. Chen on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In "The City, Not Long After," Pat Murphy has written an engrossing tale of post-apocalyptic Northern California, where a plague has wiped out most of the population. Much of San Francisco has become a giant canvas on which artists have used the city's resources to create works of wonder. A military dictatorship in Sacramento, however, is working to "reunite the country" and threatens to use force to add the jewel of the Bay Area to its empire.

A young woman named Jax has been given the task by her dying mother to warn the citizens of the coming storm. She is somewhat distracted by her personal search for her mother, who had promised her daughter that she would be going ahead to San Francisco to prepare the way. Jax must learn some her mother's secrets in order to help the community of scholars and artists find a way to repel the invasion. Exactly how should artists respond to the menace of guns and bombs when such things are abhorrent to them?

Murphy's characters and their artistic creations seem so full of life - in my mind's eye I can almost envision them inhabiting the various neighborhoods of the City by the Bay. The story itself is sad at times (but not overly depressing), haunting and quite memorable.

The underlying message of the novel can be phrased as a question: How much of a price are people willing to pay for peace? Though written nearly 20 years ago, the novel's message seems particularly resonant today, in a time when many Americans are willing to sacrifice personal freedoms and human lives in the name of finding peace and security.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elle Berk VINE VOICE on January 31, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first stumbled upon this book some seven-odd years ago, when I was just moving into the beginnings of a proverbial intellectual 'awakening.' I spent perhaps four months tracking it down, as it was out of print and not carried at my library; read it at least a half-dozen times while it was in my posession, and only begrudgingly gave it up when the time was due (though it was rather tempting to keep and fess up the library fine).

In hindsight, this book is idealistic in nature: It is a peaceful, love-beaded dystopian novel with more than its share of hope. It tells the story of a community of citizens who have migrated to San Francisco, in an event to both continue with their crafts (There are painters, sculpters, just plain tinkerers). They also attempt to organise themselves against the "General," a militaristic dictator-esque figure moving across America.

This settlement comes in the wake of an outbreak of plague, as a result of an altruistic attempt to bring peace to the world, and to the United States.

Although a children's book, this novel still stands out in my mind as being one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Rarely do a book's details stay with one for the better part of ten years, in the clarity that this one has. Well-worth tracking down, or buying used.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Set in San Francisco "not long after" most
of the population has died. Some of the survivors
have decided to stay in the City they love and
have established an odd community of hippies,
artists and misfits.

The plot centers around their
decision to resist militaristic invaders on their
own terms.

This is a lyrical and entrancing novel with
a solid plot and interesting charachters. The
subject matter could easily dissolve into New Age
sentimentality but Murphy comes through with
shinning colors, staying true to the
characters while delivering an original and
fascinating story with a poetic and mythological
feel.

If you live in San Francisco you must read this.
If you don't live here it'll make you wish you did.
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