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The City, Not Long [Hardcover]

Pat Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 1989
Set in a city devastated by plague, this book tells of a young woman who arrives in the city to join a charismatic group of artists, journalists and writers. The group must join together to defeat the invading forces of megalomaniac General Fourstar. From the author of "The Shadow Hunter".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

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.

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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical post-apocaliptic tale of San Francisco July 5 1997
By A Customer
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.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars minimal-footprint war story - art vs. military June 28 2000
By Pat
Format:Hardcover
So there's this plague, see, that wipes out about 99.9 percent of the population. San Francisco is a big artist commune - one group paints the Golden Gate Bridge blue. An army decides to take over. The ensuing war is one of the oddest battles ever fought - soldiers, cut down by tranquilizers, have the word DEAD painted on their cheeks, and are warned via a letter that if they don't consider themselves hors-de-combat, they may very well die for real next time. Other soldiers are dived-bombed with water balloons full of jasmine perfume and LSD. Probably the lowest body count of any book featuring battle scenes. I read this book on a whim and fell madly in love with it. I have to reread it again soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a tour de force - it must be read March 11 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Following the Plague that destroyed most the inhabitants of America, the City of San Fransiscoe remains populated by artists, hippies and the like. An army general is on a course to re-unite the once great America and San Fransisco is the city next in line on his agenda - but the artists resist, not by military confrontation - but by 'fighting with their art and creativity.' The characters are so alive and energetic - the story is chilling, memorable and superbly told by Pat Murphy. This is one of the greats - not to be missed!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, worth reading & re-reading! July 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read this book a number of times since I first discovered it a few years ago. The story & characters stay at the edge of my memory and as the details get blurry, I take it out & read it again. Pat Murphy's description of San Franscisco as the artists transform it, is so vivid that I can see their art and understand its impact. It's an entrancing book -- I wish it had a sequel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical post-apocaliptic tale of San Francisco July 5 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of San Francisco lives on March 10 2007
By D.S. Chen - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, if a bit cliched - Jan. 31 2005
By L. Berk - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My mother's post-apocalypse March 8 2012
By Heidi Waterhouse - Published on Amazon.com
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. It's nothing anyone can avoid when they destroy the world in their own time, it's just an artifact, but while all the rest of the story was pretty immediate for me, I kept running a sort of ethnography on the world-that-was.

On the whole, I would probably never have picked this book up on my own, but I'm very glad that I read it.

Read if: You would like a future of poets and painters and librarians. You are a fan of magical realism. You are interested in what happens when pacifists go to war.

Skip if: You are actually looking for the grim meathook future. You will find magical fogs and glass mazes twee and annoying. You have plague issues. Wandering through houses with dead people would skeeve you out.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pick for any who missed this winner July 3 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's half a century after a goodwill gesture has spread plague around the world, and San Francisco's surviving residents populate a haunted city again at risk. This time it's power-hungry men who are invading, and Jax and Danny-boy lead the battle - using magic and the city's own underlying powers - to solve mysteries and gain power for the future. Highly recommended on its initial publication, the paperback of The City, Not Long After is a pick for any who missed this winner.
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