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The City, Not Long After

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  427 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Half a generation ago, a gesture in the name of peace turned out to spread plague and disaster. In San Francisco, the survivors are heir to a city transformed. It is a haunted, dreaming place peopled with memories, and in a strange way nearly alive itself. And although it is only beginning to recover from near-ultimate disaster, the city is at risk again. An army of power- ...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published February 1st 1989 by Doubleday (first published 1989)
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Following a plague brought on by a gesture of peace (aka monkeys), the survivors of San Francisco turn the city into an artists' colony of sorts. The fate of the city is put in the hands of a young woman, Jax, and other teenagers she meets along the course of her journey who work together to protect San Francisco from an army led by a power-hungry general.

This is a different sort of post-apocalyptic world. In other books falling in the same category there is often a lot of sparse descriptions of
Artists wage a creative turf war in post-apocalyptic San Francisco and paint the Golden Gate Bridge blue as butterfly wings.

Writers read this for: strong, effective use of theme...anything an artist creates, however impermanent, changes themselves and therefore changes the world..."When you make something beautiful, you change. You put something of yourself into the thing you make. You're a different person when you're done."

Quotes at the opening of Part 2 "The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street
Curtis Chen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I would probably only give this a 2 or 3 except that it's set in San Francisco and I really enjoyed actually being able to place the action in physical space. (It mentions the building where I work - twice!) It's just not my usual taste in science fiction - I've read some magical realism I've enjoyed, but not much. That and the ending are the reasons I would have given it fewer stars otherwise. I was initially a little put off by the idea that after an apocalypse nearly every surviving San Franc ...more
Felicia A
Very hard to get into....took quite some time. Once you DO get into it, it's a wonderful and different story. I agree with others that the "magical" aspects are a little offputting because you don't really know if events are actually happening or being imagined by the characters. The ending was a little odd, but all in all worth reading for those who like this genre.
This book isn't really an amazing read, but I was looking for books about some sort of futuristic/postapocalypse/dystopian San Francisco and not much turned up. Does anyone else read San Francisco as a "postapocalyptic" city? I think you either feel it or you don't..
The suspension of disbelief Murphy asks of her readers is just not working for me. I don't know why I can't get into this book, but I can't. Maybe it's because the artists are all nonviolent artsy fartsy folks with no organization. (By contrast, I think of artists as fierce folk who can be quite well organized when they believe in a cause.)

The ending also felt incredibly rushed, like her editor told her "All right, you've got 20 pages, figure it out and tie it up into a tidy bow." Because the ac
Aug 06, 2014 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" series
The City, Not Long After was not precisely what I had expected from the premise. From nothing more than the title and a brief outline I'd got the impression it was sort of like The Stand on a smaller scale, but it's really quite different. First, the title is a little misleading: the bulk of the story takes place sixteen years after a plague wipes out most of the human population of the planet. That's not a very long time if you're a planet yourself, but from a human perspective it's a fair old ...more
Thom Foolery
I'm a sucker for any science fiction or detective story set in San Franciso. It is the loveliest of all the USAmerican cities I have seen, and I am familiar enough with its landmarks for the descriptions to be really vivid and meaningful. This novel, by one of the creative folks behind the Exploratorium, is a magical realist tale set in a post-apocalyptic City where different sorts of armies engage in a uniquely Californian struggle for the future. It was was especially fun to read because I was ...more
Have you ever hand to work so hard to find a book, that when you do find it you expected to be the greatest book you have ever read. This is how I felt about Pat Murphy’s novel The City, Not Long After. I chose her as one of my WOGF authors, but my local library did not have a copy, and when I looked on line the book was out of print. I was intrigued by the plotline of this story and felt an unreasonable desire to find a copy of this novel for some reason. I eventually found and audio copy on my ...more
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 o
Nope. It had its moments... but you've got to stomach that post Plague San Francisco is the gentle city (or rather a village now) of artists and mystics, watched over by a guardian angel, and Oakland, that BAD place, is ruled by violent motorcycle gangs... and you realize just like Callenbach with his laughable description of Oakland as "Soul City" in Ecotopia, you're dealing with more silly elitist futurism. Sociologist Mike Davis called it on the post-apocalyptic genre, he said it was often us ...more
Althea Ann
I really enjoyed reading this book - the tone and concepts were just beautiful. It's a post-apocalyptic scenario infused with magical realism. After a plague spread (accidentally?) by peace-activist Buddhists, only a few survivors live amongst ruins. San Francisco has become a haven of artists, but a military cult based in Sacramento is set on forcefully establishing a new American empire. Pacifism faces down a philosophy of violent force... but primarily, this is the story of the orphaned Danny ...more
A post-apocalyptic San Francisco sets the scene and, living in the Bay Area, I feel like that was what let me appreciate it as a novel.

Having the ability to navigate the map of places described definitely helped in picturing HOW the city has truly changed. I enjoyed that fact that the city's keepers were the "artists", who if attempted their projects today, would be considered insane. Yet somehow the story gave their projects meaning such as creating a prism in the city or painting the Golden G
Maybe I'm a cynic, but this story of a post-apocalyptic SF populated by artists -- in which the artists must USE ART to fight off an invading force -- was just a little too fluffy for me. I picked it up to pass the time and it was pleasant enough, and I have to admit it did have a sort of charm, but on the whole nothing about it was especially deep or interesting -- especially given the liberal use of deus ex machina in the form of "the city dreaming" or "the city defending itself" etc. Good air ...more
This is my first novel from Pat Murphy. Not sure I'm really that excited about reading more from her. I thought it was okay at first, then I thought it was really bad, then the last 3rd got interesting. Overall it felt really dated. There were supernatural elements that seemed extremely out of place in a post holocaust world. At first I couldn't tell if they were events that were actually happening or if they were somehow metaphorical. When it started raining flowers I thought I had missed somet ...more
The beginning is rather depressing. I hope it gets better.
OK, it got a little better. The story features the city as a character, personified by the angel that watches over the inhabitants. This book was written and published while I lived in San Francisco. So I enjoyed the references to the various neighborhoods. But the mystical contribution to resolving the key conflict was less than I'd hoped for. The conclusion for the key characters (other than the city itself) were also ant
This is a remarkably upbeat vision of San Francisco a few decades after a great plague that decimated most of the Earth's human population. A jingoistic General advances upon the city, determined to rebuild the American Empire by conquering territory and conscripting subjected peoples into his army. A woman from the conquered Sacramento area makes it to San Francisco to warn of his coming. How can San Francisco's residents, largely peace-loving hippie-type artists, possibly hope to defend their ...more
Christie Maurer
This is an absolutely superb book! I picked it up from my writers' group used book table upon a friend's rave recommendation. City... lived up to it. The story is whimsical, brave, funny, courageous, tragic... After a plague decimates the population, survivors live off the remains. In San Frnacisco the dreamers and artists take over and create a wonderful, whacky society. And then a group of militants who are trying to organize the broken society invade, bent on destroying San Francisco where th ...more
Carolee Wheeler
I feel as though this book would always feel bittersweet, but in 2014, as the city is becoming ever more inhospitable to all but the very wealthy, reading this book makes me sad and hopeful at once. It's beautiful.
K.E. Page
This was an interesting read with a lot to say about warfare and peace. Ultimately I found it a bit nice for me. I know that if I imagine a post apocalyptic future, it would be more like The Road than this novel. Naively charming but not thoroughly convincing.
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Loved it! I only took a star away because I wasn't crazy about the way it ended, but the rest of the book is wonderful!
This is another adult sf novel, repackaged for YAs. It's a post-apocalyptic yarn about California after a plague has wiped out most of the population. Parts of Northern California have come under the sway of a general people call Four Star, who wants to rebuild America as an ultraconservative dictatorship. The denizens of San Francisco, on the other hand, have created an anarchist art colony and have no desire to have their way of life disrupted.

The whole thing's ever-so-slightly hippie-dippy, b
Lisa Eckstein
The story takes place in San Francisco 16 years after a plague has wiped out most of the world. The city's remaining inhabitants have created a new society focused on art. The artists are living quite happily together, along with the occasional ghost produced by the city itself, when they learn that they may have to defend against war-minded attackers.

This was a fairly interesting story, and I particularly enjoyed how the artists decide to fight back against a military group who try to take over
This was a definitely enjoyable story. It was written in 1989 but somehow was rather timeless. Definitely a post-apocalyptic story but some of the imagery in it is absolutely gorgeous. Artists of various kinds inhabit San Francisco after a plague has killed most of the population of the US and other major countries. The changes these artists make to the city are interesting and their various projects are really inspirational. There's also conflict, and the dilemmas of how to deal with that confl ...more
Read enough post-apocalyptic fiction, and you’ll start to tire of the tropes. Some of them will even make your memories of plots start to blend together: the lone walkers of the highways, the department store foraging, roadside bandits, the almost-cozy beginnings of new, hopeful communities.

The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy (1989, reprinted 2006) relies on a few of the expected post-apocalyptic themes, but with some notable --and refreshing-- differences...[More]

Read full review at Book Dir
Sep 17, 2007 Quinn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any sci-fi/fantacy buff, but you haters might like it too
Shelves: sci-fi
This book was hard to get into at first but well worth it. It's an interesting blend of sci-fi and magical realism.... or maybe just magic. The author writes about magic in such a matter of fact, down to earth way that it's almost a little unnerving at first. Post plauge, the city of San Fran is inhabited by artists, ghosts, and dreams. When a warring faction wishes to take over the city as part of a new America, the artists and the city must defend themselves, but in their own particular style. ...more
Liz B
More post-apocalyptic fiction, but this one had a definite magical-realism feel to it. It looks like the edition I read might be marketed as YA--huge mistake. This is not a book for kids. Not because of the content, but because it's so slow-paced and contemplative. The last 50 pages or so are exciting, which is not surprising since the afterword indicates that the author was fleshing out the back story of a short story she wrote years earlier. I presume that the exciting part was more or less th ...more
A quick read, and pretty fun. There's some portions of the book that discuss pacifism and art in ways that can become fairly cloying, but I took each with a grain of salt, given that this book was published (probably) for people in their mid-to-late teens in the late 80s and I'm reading it as a 28-year-old in 2013. The writing is simple and straightforward, following a standard narrative arc peppered with elements of magical realism. Recommended for teenage anarchists of the "That's soooo random ...more
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SFBC: Pat Murphy: The City Not Long After 1 2 Jan 12, 2014 06:46PM  
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