Curtis Chen's Reviews > The City, Not Long After

The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
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Dec 23, 10

Read in May, 2003

** spoiler alert ** (blogged in 2003...)

First, I finished reading Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, which appears on several lists of "classic" science fiction works, and though not badly written, the overall theme is pretty depressing. Then, by pure coincidence, I picked up The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy, which has a very similar premise-- most of the world's population is killed by a massive plague-- but a much more uplifting message. I suppose you could call them the country mouse and city mouse of post-apocalyptic survival stories. (Let's not talk about "Jeremiah" at all, okay?)

Curiously enough, both stories take place in the San Francisco bay area, and both start in the East Bay. Earth stays there for the most part; City moves into San Francisco proper. Earth is primarily a "what-if" tale, and takes a very detached, almost sterile, anthropological look at its subject. City is more fantastic, with blatantly magical elements and near-future technology but-- ironically-- a more human perspective.

(Not central to this discussion, but also interesting: Earth was written in the 1950s, before civil rights, the Cold War, Vietnam, and cyberpunk. City was written on the other side of history. Both show certain prejudices.)
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