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City Come a-Walkin'

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  412 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Stu Cole is struggling to keep his nightclub, Club Anesthesia, afloat in the face of mob harassment when he's visited by a manifestation of the city of San Francisco, crystallized into a single enigmatic being. This amoral superhero leads him on a terrifying journey through the rock and roll demimonde as they struggle to save the city.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 4th 2001 by Running Press (first published 1980)
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May 14, 2012 Xach rated it it was amazing

Really, just...holy shit. This book takes "amazing" to a whole new level. Aside from one typographical error (a capital A following a comma), not one piece of this novel was out of place.

Forewarning, I may just write "holy shit" a lot to convey my love of this book.

First off, if you read it, make sure you get an edition with the intro by William Gibson. I was hooked just from that, I didn't even need the narrative. It also provides a bit of context, not that you'll need it.

Now, just...
Bart Everson
Jul 20, 2012 Bart Everson rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of action-oriented sci-fi, people interested in punk and cyberpunk
Recommended to Bart by: Octavia Science Fiction Reading Club
Shelves: octavia-sf
Four stars for seminality. (Is that a word?) Two stars for my actual reading pleasure. So I split the difference for this rating.

This book really puts the "punk" in cyberpunk. In fact this is the first cyberpunk novel ever written. Future entrees in the subgenre tended to stress the "cyber" element more. But City Come a Walkin' is one of the most punk books I have ever read. That's a good thing. It's got punk attitude and one of the main characters is a rocker.

It's got a hard, tough edge, depi
Justin Howe
Oct 30, 2012 Justin Howe rated it really liked it
Oddly prescient while also dated -- I read this trying to remember what it was like reading SF at 16 years of age. A simple straightforward SF read in the same vein as Matheson's I AM LEGEND, Leiber's OUR LADY OF DARKNESS, and Dick's MARTIAN TIME SLIP.
Erik Angle
An entertaining read with some fascinating concepts, even if those concepts are muddled by the narrative execution. Required for anyone interested in cyberpunk literature.


It has been said that Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash was either the final cyberpunk novel, or the first postcyberpunk novel. John Shirley’s City Come A-Walkin’, first published in 1980 (with the story set in 1991) occupies a similar position, but on the far end of the timeline – it either presaged the cyberpunk sub-genre,
Oct 16, 2016 7thTrooper rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction

Denna bok hade jag hört talas om mycket länge innan jag faktiskt lade vantarna (tack vare en generös mamma) på den och, tyvärr, hade jag byggt upp alldeles för stora förväntningar. Jag kommer osvikligt att tänka på Liebers "Our Lady of Darkness" och min reaktion på den som var liknande. Det är absolut en bra och läsvärd bok men efter allt jag hört hade jag bara väntat mig så mycket mer. Men det är fortfarande Shirley på hans absoluta topp så det finns flera guldkorn. Vad som är mest intressant m
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jul 17, 2011 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
In the introduction to the 1996 edition of Shirley's original 1980 novel, William Gibson refers to Shirley as the Patient Zero of Cyperpunk. I'm in no position to contest that assertion, and it goes a ways towards explaining why the novel, while never seeming dated, seems so familiar. Shirley's imagined San Francisco of 2008 has the post-punk feel, vigilante dangers, and cynical corporate plots that are now the mainstay of sf in books, movies, and television. Shirley does seem to have gotten the ...more
Smiley McGrouchpants
Jun 20, 2014 Smiley McGrouchpants rated it it was amazing
John Shirley's breakout work — now back in print — presages a lot of "cyberpunk" fiction (even this review just draws off the Wm. Gibson introduction, the case is so obvious), albeit in a way that still is hard to pin down, quantify, categorize ... barring that it's rip-roaring, punk-rock, many-layered Fiction pleasure!

City — as realized, as a "character" — isn't your prototypical bad guy, good guy, or "anti-hero", either; rather, as a sort of Faustian bargain-maker for a world too sanguine abou
Feb 06, 2017 Aneel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aneel by: Aerik
The book felt dated in plot points, but the themes are still current. I imagined Anesthesia as being the DNA Lounge.
Phillip Dunham
Jan 12, 2014 Phillip Dunham rated it liked it
This is the second one of John Shirley's books I've read. This and Transmaniacon. I really liked them both. (He references Blue Oyster Cult in both novels, and actually wrote lyrics for some of their later music. Much later, like post-2000.)
The characters in both novels fall into and create a series of violent and chaotic situations. It's like cyberpunk Tarantino.
Some of the sci fi elemts in this are a little dated (one of the charactres walks by a music store that cells CD-ROMS) but that's inc
Jan 12, 2015 Kris rated it liked it
Great atmosphere and some interesting ideas handled a bit less elegantly than his protege William Gibson did a few years later. Shirley's future San Fran oozes that cobalt-colored future-noir feeling that became the trademark of CP, but the prose in City is brusque and often clumsy when compared with Gibson's more polished style. You can really see where Gibson (and Sterling and others) jumped off from City, and for pioneering these ideas Shirley probably gets an extra half star or so. It's defi ...more
Jim Jewell
Jun 04, 2008 Jim Jewell rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jim by: A.hageman
Wow. How did it, why did it, take me so long to come to this book.

That from which all cyberpunk evolved. A damn fine read, compelling, and one that hooked me from the moment the City's overmind strode into Stu's club in his mirrored shades.

My edition has an intro by Gibson that I saved until after I finished the story, and nothing I can say about the book can compare to Willy.

Just go read this book if you have any shred of urban sci-fi interest in ya.
Whit Compton
Nov 11, 2012 Whit Compton rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A handful of the most ingenious, inventive and just downright creative ideas I've ever read in a science fiction novel. Period. Unfortunately it is a definite product of it's environment and it reads exactly like a cyberpunk novel from the '80s. At the time I'm sure that added to the coolness and creativity of it, but reading it in the new millennium it feels clunky and the computing just gets comical at some points. Great writer, great story, could use a touch up.
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Jan 28, 2012 Allan Dyen-Shapiro rated it it was amazing
A classic. One of the books that inspired cyberpunk, considered by some to be the first cyberpunk novel. Set in San Francisco, with the city itself as a character, also with other great characters that come from the authors background as a punk rock musician. The idea that a city could be sentient was a completely cool notion, probably what inspired the sentient computer network in Gibson's Neuromancer. Great prose, compelling characters, great story.

A must read.
Jan 31, 2009 Robert rated it really liked it
Really neat take on the sentience and personalization of cities. Set nearly exclusively in San Francisco with brief excursions to Santa Cruz and Sacramento. Plays with ideas of humanity, sentience and agency. Engaging, but not the best read in the world, the plot seeming a little stale at places.
Carolyn Chriss
As the first pre -dystopian, cyber - punk, sci -fi novel, it's amazing. It's prescient tech predictions are amazing. It was written in 1980!! The story doesn't hold up but no matter. that's not why this is an important book. The man created a genre here. How often does THAT happen?
Stew Weiss
Jul 21, 2007 Stew Weiss rated it really liked it
Often described as patient zero for cyberpunk, this tale of the City of San Francisco mustering itself into an ass kicking Travis Bickle type avatar is classic early 80's sci-fi punk rock in its purest form.
Jul 10, 2012 Dustin marked it as to-read
Shelves: up-next
Brave New World, which also featured Virtual Light by William Gibson, City Come A Walkin by John Shirley, and Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan. [note]
Florin Pitea
Mar 10, 2010 Florin Pitea rated it really liked it
For a review of this proto-cyberpunk novel, please visit my blog:
Adrienne Foreman
Interesting first cyberpunk novel.
Matt Maxwell
Jun 05, 2011 Matt Maxwell rated it really liked it
More magical realism and less cyberpunk, but worth the trip all the same. The spirit of San Francisco takes hold of a fractured nightclub owner in a dark, near-future.
Duane Poncy
I love this book for its raw creativity. While it is as much urban fantasy as cyberpunk, it has been very influential in the cyberpunk genre, inspiring no less than William Gibson.
Misti Schmidt
Nov 30, 2010 Misti Schmidt rated it really liked it
Great concept.
Nov 27, 2010 Cybergrannny rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Speaker Stelios
Oct 05, 2011 Speaker Stelios rated it it was amazing
super cool pre-cyberpunk book. Very joyful and energetic. I just loved it!
Lifesart rated it liked it
Oct 11, 2014
Clinton rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2016
Gaygeek rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2011
Greg rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2012
Brian rated it liked it
Jul 26, 2012
Ian M. Veitzer
Ian M. Veitzer rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2015
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John Shirley is the author of more than a dozen books, including Demons; Crawlers; City Come A-Walkin’; Really, Really, Really, Really, Weird Stories; and the classic cyberpunk trilogy A Song Called Youth: Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona. He is the recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award and won the International Horror Guild Award for his collection Black But ...more
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