“Click City” — A New, and Maybe Better, “Tales of the City”?

In the tradition of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, which it published as a serial back in the 70s and 80s, the San Francisco Chronicle has launched a new serial called Click City.

From the Editor’s Note:

It’s been more than 30 years since The Chronicle published Armistead Maupin’s fictional Tales of the City serial, which depicted freewheeling San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, the city is much different: It has become the epicenter of a worldwide digital and cultural revolution.

With that in mind, The Chronicle is launching a new serial, Click City, which…will follow a multitude of quirky characters with San Francisco as the canvas.

The story will explore modern themes, including the struggle to connect with others when technology makes us both more and less connected than ever.

The serial, by novelist Heather Stallings, will continue in Datebook Monday through Saturday this week before settling into its normal schedule – Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Here’s Click City, Episode 1: Trying to Cracking the Code. It’s off to a strong start.

After The Chronicle printed his serial, Armistead Maupin compiled the columns and published them as a book. I loved the original Tales of the City, both the book and the resulting PBS miniseries.

But after the first volume, Maupin dragged the story out through nine (9!) increasingly unreadable books. In one of the series, he had all his characters spend the entire book literally wandering around in the woods, and in 2007, after a gap of 18 years, he revived the series with a book called Michael Tolliver Lives that was so smug and self-satisfied that I really wish I’d never read it. Sad ending after a fantastic start.  Imagine that Dickens had followed up A Christmas Carol with A New Year’s Tale and A Valentine Story and An Arbor Day Romp, all with the same increasingly uninteresting characters and lame plots. (Sorry, Tiny Tim.  Didn’t catch that until after I wrote it).

Here’s hoping Click City doesn’t meet the same depressing fate.

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