Saturday, November 6, 2010

The City, Not Long After

Still reading Pat Murphy books, and I bought two copies of The Wild Girls remaindered at Powell's, one for me and one for Megan. I also bought a cheap massmarket used copy off The City, Not Long After, since in this awesome interview she says that The City, Not Long After is one of her three favorites of her books and the library doesn't have it! Published in 1989, The City, Not Long After is a post-apocalyptic novel set in Seattle. Reading it, I kept thinking how Parable of the Sower is so much better, but then I realized the world is big enough for more than one post-apocalyptic novel. It's fiction, Elissa.

Plus Murphy's and Butler's post-apocalyptisisms (heh) are so different. Butler's America dies because of, according to Publishers Weekly, "global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills." Murphy's America is struck by a plague spread by monkeys representing the peace movement. And the best part of The City, Not Long After is that the few survivors ultimately end up in a war, of course--the bad guys, led by General Miles, are conquering city after mostly-abandoned city in their effort to recreate "America," but then they try to take over San Francisco, a city of artists and poets and ghosts that don't necessarily think recreating America is such a good idea. Ms. Migsdale tells Foursquares' (their name for General Miles) representative, "You seem to think joining together into a larger and more powerful nation is automatically good. We don't necessarily agree. Personally, I've always thought that nations were tremendously overrated. I can't say I was particularly proud to be an American; I never cared much for America as a whole, though I liked my neighborhood well enough. I've always favored a somewhat looser structure, more like the city-states of early Greece."'

But unable to convince the Americans to go away and leave them alone, given the choice of fighting a war or surrendering, San Francisco's citizens insist on fighting a Gandhi-style war, and instead of killing people they are simply marked as dead, with DEAD by and the name of who "killed" them painted on their face, and the agreed-upon CERTIFICATE OF DEATH placed in their pocket or on their chest. The certificate read, "Please consider yourself removed from combat. Look at it this way--we could have killed you. If you don't stop fighting, we really will kill you next time. Signed, the People of San Francisco."

Okay, so it's not Parable of the Sower, but it's pretty damn good.

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