Pat Murphy — The City, Not Long After

This isn’t a full review, mostly because I JUST finished this as an audiobook, and am still overwhelmed by the sheer level of awesomeness contained within.

PLOT! Okay, basically some peace-lovin’ hippies from San Francisco decide to take some monkeys from a mysterious “Mountain of Peace” nebulously near Kathmundu to SF and other major cities across the world. The monkeys are a SYMBOL, get it, because them leaving the Mountain of Peace brings peace to the rest of world… EXCEPT BY PEACE WE MEAN DEATH! So SF then the rest of the US is swept by a flu-like plague, which delightfully includes hallucinations, so yeah, life is totally pain for a while there.

Our action is centered in Cali, where San Francisco remains the city of artists and awesome, which really pisses off Four Star, a general trying to forcibly re-unite the US. After the plague, it was all a bit helter-skelter; the survivors of the plague have been paying more attention to basic needs than to stuff like patriotism and nationality. The US has sorta split off into little hamlets — Four Star and his army mean to change all that.

Let’s pause for a moment and keep count of the bits of awesome here:

1. Monkeys– as harbingers of DOOM and also as awesome monkeys.
2. California (as opposed to NYC) as the site of our post-apocalyptic saga. Sweet.

So anyways, one of our main narrators loses her mother to Four Star’s violence. Her mother, who was from SF, tells the girl to head up to the city, to warn the people in San Francisco that Four Star is coming for them. Jax (as the girl eventually names herself — her and her mother lived very much alone, so she didn’t need a name before going into the city) warns the people of SF that Four Star is gunning for them, but they ultimately refuse to fight a conventional war.  Because it’s now a city of folks sorta against centralized government and violence just on general principle, the natives of San Francisco decide to fight a peaceful war against Four Star’s invasion. The city is on their side as well, as the ghosts of protesters past and present rise up to resist Four Star’s military might. This is surprisingly stirring. There are angels and werewolves roaming the streets.

What this means, though, is that in one book we have,

1. Monkeys– as harbingers of DOOM and also as awesome monkeys.
2. California (as opposed to NYC) as the site of our post-apocalyptic saga.
3. A careful meditation on pacifism (where the philosophy isn’t implicitly feminized).

These are three of my favorite things! Why has it taken me YEARS to hear of this book??


  1. gategrrl says

    This sounds like an interesting take on the apocolyptic-after genre. Thanks for the recc–after I find it, I’ll add some opinion!


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