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Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy (Public Works Trilogy) (original 1997; edition 2004)

by Matt Ruff

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891199,915 (3.88)18
Member:herzogbr
Title:Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy (Public Works Trilogy)
Authors:Matt Ruff
Info:Grove Press (2004), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:2007-07, fiction, humor, future, futuristic, environmental, capitalism, activism, science-fiction, scifi, cyberpunk, ayn rand, utpoian, dystopia

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Sewer, Gas & Electric by Matt Ruff (1997)

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The year is 2023. High above the canyons of Manhattan, a crew of humans and androi Steelworkers are approaching the half-way point in the construction of a new Tower of Babel. The tower is the brainchild of a billionaire, Harry Grant, who is building it as a monument to humanity's power to dream. Meanwhile on the streets and below, a darker game is afoot. A Wallstreet takeover artist has been murdered, and Joan (Harrys' ex-wife) has been hired to find out why. Accompanying her is Ayn Rand, resurrected from the dead by a computer and bottled in a hurricane lantern to save as Joans' unwilling assistant. Meanwhile Rand vainly attempts to tutor Joan in the "virtues of selfishness". Joan discovers that the murder is the key to a much larger mystery - one in which millions of other lives may hang in the balance of. The world of Sewer, Gas, Electric includes such characters as submanrine eco-terroist Phil Dufrense, his daughter, Seraphina who lives in the walls of the New York Public Library; newspaper editor Lexa Thatcher whos' VW is haunted by the spirt of Abbie Hoffman; and Meisterbrau a great white shark who swims in the sewer tunnels beneath Times Suare - plus many more who are caught up in a conspiracy involving Walt Disney, J. Edgar Hover and an army of homicidal robots.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I wasn't sure that I was going to like this book for the first 90 pages or so, and then it started to develop some better plotting and was a great read from there on. Although the end wasn't up to the standard of the middle.

It's one of the few books where I have needed to refer back to the cast of characters list as there is so much happening to begin with, in fact I would say that this is one of my complaints about the book.

Hi next two books (Set this House in Order and Bad Monkeys) were much more disciplined and I recommend them heartily. I still have his first (Fool on the Hill) to read but it's slipped down the pile a little after this one. ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
Far too long for what it was. The humor wasn't enough to support the length. I did find it mildly humorous, but won't go out of my way to read any more by Ruff. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 24, 2014 |
An irritating mix of hippy-dippy and Ayn Rand - couldn't be bothered to finish it. ( )
  SChant | Apr 26, 2013 |
It's hard to summarise this wilfully chaotic, amusingly energetic book. On the surface we get a near future consipracy thriller starring: one Harry Gant, a dreamer billionaire who is addicted to building the worlds highest skyscrapers, his ex-wife who is investigating some Gant industries suspicous deaths and her two sidekicks: Ayn Rand (yes the author) and a one armed 181 year old civil war veteran. But then we also get stuff about mutant sewer sharks, eco pirates marauding around in Howard Hughes's old submarine, a racist plague and ironic homicides.

Yes it is the ideas that make this book, there are so many characters and subplots and fun asides that I found it hard to worry about the so so but admittedly amusing plot. Unfortunately this chaos does makes it a hard book to read for long periods, which doesn't make it a bad book just an very odd one. There is a lot here and Ruff doesn't seem to want to keep a tight rein on any of it (Note it's quite different from his two later books I have read)

Also he does spend quite a while taking the mickey out of Ann Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which was still amusing even though I have never read it.. Of course Ayn Rand fans and fanatical capitalists may want to skip this one.

Overall recommend for lovers of the weird. ( )
  clfisha | May 4, 2010 |
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Epigraph
It's very strange for me to look at your generation. You see, we always had this idea that each generation was going to be brighter, cheer more for justice and more for peace. But my youngest son, who's 16, says to me, "Dad, you're so quaint and romantic. You think things are going to get better, that there's hope." he says, "but none of us believe this." And then he tells me how half the world is going to be wiped out by AIDS, how the polar icecap is going to melt, that the tropical rainforest will be gone in 30 years and we won't have any oxygen, which doesn't matter anyway since the nuclear holocaust is going to happen within 7 years, and if I'm a little doubtful about the dates, he says he can prove it to me on his computer...In my view, if the next generation is going to make some contribution it'll be the discovery of how you struggle for social change without having any hope. In the 60's, you see, when you jumped on the earth, the earth jumped back just like Einstein said it would. We knew we'd win every battle because every day we grew up. Every day was a new day and being on the brink of the Apocalpyse was romantic. But maybe this vision that you have is the more realistic of the two..."
Abbie Hoffman at the University of South Carolina, 1987
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For Ayn Rand
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No one could say he hadn't been warned.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802141552, Paperback)

Sewer, Gas & Electric is the exuberant follow-up to Matt Ruff's cult classic and critically acclaimed debut Fool on the Hill.
High above Manhattan android and human steelworkers are constructing a new Tower of Babel for billionaire Harry Gant, as a monument to humanity's power to dream. In the festering sewers below a darker game is afoot: a Wall Street takeover artist has been murdered, and Gant's crusading ex-wife, Joan Fine, has been hired to find out why. The year is 2023, and Ayn Rand has been resurrected and bottled in a hurricane lamp to serve as Joan's assistant; an eco-terrorist named Philo Dufrense travels in a pink-and-green submarine designed by Howard Hughes; a Volkswagen Beetle is possessed by the spirit of Abbie Hoffman; Meisterbrau, a mutant great white shark, is running loose in the sewers beneath Times Square; and a one-armed 181-year-old Civil War veteran joins Joan and Ayn in their quest for the truth. All of whom, and many more besides, are caught up in a vast conspiracy involving Walt Disney, J. Edgar Hoover, and a mob of homicidal robots.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A computer-generated plague sweeps the world, killing every black person in sight. This is one of a number of doomsday events contained in this futuristic novel where mayhem follows mayhem. In another, a shark is creating havoc in New York's sewer system.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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