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

by Matt Ruff

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0962518,607 (3.81)24
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.… (more)
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 and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy by Matt Ruff (1997)

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I waited the whole length of this book to explain why all the Black people in the world were plagued out of existence and replaced with Black robots. No amount of satirical writing can make that not just a wholly disgusting plot point. By the end no justifiable answer was given besides well, thanks for being obvious in your intent to take 99% of black people out of your world.
  fleshed | Jul 16, 2023 |
https://fromtheheartofeurope.eu/a-final-book-set-in-2023-sewer-gas-electric-by-m...

Originally published in 1997, this is a satire channeling the sprits of Neal Stephenson’s early work and the Illuminatus! trilogy. It’s set in October and November 2023, focussed on New York. The Empire State Building was destroyed in 2006 when a Boeing 747 accidentally crashed into it, but the Twin Towers are still standing. Donald Trump died in 2013 when the spaceship in which he planned to travel to Mars blew up on the launchpad, but Queen Elizabeth II is still alive and well, and personally directing military strikes against her enemies. There’s a mutant great white shark in the sewers, Ayn Rand resurrected as an AI personality, a 181-year-old civil war veteran, Walt Disney’s chief engineer and a billionaire and his ex-wife at the heart of the story.

So far so good. But there is a massive problem with the set-up: a recent pandemic, which turns out to have been bio-engineered, has killed all the African and African-descended people in the world, leaving the rest of us to get on with it. This fails on biology – it would really be much much easier to design a plague that only kills us genetically homogenous white folks, rather than targetting the super-diverse population of Africa and its diaspora – and on good taste – this is really not a sensitive or sensible way to address the future of racism, especially since African-Americans are then economically replaced by robots called “Electric Negroes”. Ruff has paid his dues to an extent with Lovecraft Country, but I can’t quite believe that this was thought acceptable in 1997.

I greatly enjoyed Ruff’s later Set This House in Order, which I actually rated as my top sf book of 2021, but I only finished this so that I could complete my project of reading books set in 2023. Apart from the racist plague, which is a major negative, there is not enough structure or characterisation and there are too many straw man debates with the reincarnation of Ayn Rand. But you can get it here. ( )
  nwhyte | Jan 13, 2023 |
Probably my second favorite book ever. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps the absurdity. Perhaps the fun. It's just a great book. ( )
  smallerdemon | Jul 5, 2021 |
Se Douglas Adams avesse voluto scrivere un romanzo Cyberpunk, sicuramente avrebbe scritto qualcosa di Molto simile ad Acqua, Luce e Gas.
Si perché, se guardiamo oltre i fuochi d'artificio, le trovate geniali e l'irresistibile ironia, ci troviamo di fronte ad un cupissimo romanzo cyberpunk con tutte le caratteristiche tipiche del genere: cospirazioni, multinazionali, intelligenza artificiale e protesi sintetiche. Un romanzo che fa solo finta di parlare con ironia del nostro futuro prossimo, insomma, ma che in realtà seziona con il bisturi del disincanto ciò che la nostra società sta velocemente diventando. Da leggere assolutamente. ( )
  JoeProtagoras | Jan 28, 2021 |
This is the only Matt Ruff book I couldn't love, and I've read them all. It's his second book, written in Pynchon-style rather than in his own wonderful, distinctive voice. I'm glad he went back to it for all of his other books. I bet this is a great read if you're a Pynchon fan, which I used to be, but seem to have grown out of it. If I grow into it again I will definitely go back to this book. Fortunately for me he has a new book coming out in 2015, 'Lovecraft Country'. Can't wait.
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matt Ruffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bandini, DitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bandini, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nemeth, GabrielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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.

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