First off, this isn't a typical Amazon title, rather it is the product of PS Publishing, which puts out limited, signed editions by various science fiction and fantasy authors. Specifically, "A Year in the Linear Citry" was limited to 300 hardcover and another 500 paperback copies, and at the time of this writing, some copies were still available from the publisher. Moreover, there are copies available on the internet, and should the opportunity to acquire a copy present itself, I would strongly recommend doing so.
The story is set in the eponymous Linear City, which actually constitutes an entire world; one long, straight road with buildings on either side. Odd, yes, but not entirely without precedent; one might think of it as one of the "ringworlds" found elsewhere in science fiction where the inhabitants live on the outer surface rather than the interior. What really sets the Linear City apart, though, is the fact that it is bounded quite literally, by Hell on one side, and Heaven on the other. Overhead, angels and devils await death and swoop in to remove corporeal remains, as well as the deceased's soul, right at the moment of death.
Admittedly, this is a rather simplistic view of di Filippo's creation. While "hell" (referred to as The Wrong Side of the Tracks) is admittedly unsettling, it isn't conclusively a place a of eternal damnation. At the same time, heaven, or the Other Shore, seems benign enough, but again, no one knows for sure. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter, as the residents of the Linear City are largely accepting of their strange circumstance, and while this odd arrangement does inform the book, it isn't its primary focus.
Rather, di Filippo has chosen to explore the city, or more specifically one of its millions of boroughs, through the eye's of one of its residents over the course of one year. Incidentally, Diego Patchen is also a writer of science fiction, and as such, he is perhaps the resident of Linear City best equipped to consider alternatives to his own world, and at the same time, most likely to be befuddled by their odd, and seemingly preordained, circumstance. Through Patchen, di Filippo explore simple, but familiar themes: friendship, love, ambition, family relations, etc., but no one of these elements dominates the narrative. In this way, di Filippo reminds me strongly of Stephen King's best short stories; in them, he is often more interested in the journey than the conclusion, and that is certainly the case here. Di Filippo's world is so vibrant, and also so mysterious, it could fill far more than the slim eighty pages in this volume.
Fortunately, I have seen indications that another Linear City volume is in the works, and when it is released I will do my best to be first in the digital queue at PS Publishing. Ultimately, that is the best endorsement I can offer for "A Year in the Linear City": I will revisit it in a heartbeat. Di Filippo has clearly imagined vastly more than he has written, and the questions he leaves with the reader are numerous: what are the scales? Who built the Linear City? Does it have an end? More than that, by writing characters who are everyday people, he makes the reader immensely sympathetic towards them. I for one will gladly spend another year in the Linear City with Diego and his friends.