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Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy (Public Works Trilogy) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (September 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802141552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141552
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ruff is a protean talent. . . . Very much in the absurdist tradition of Pynchon, Heller, Robbins, and Vonnegut." -The Washington Post "A dizzying rampage . . . will leave readers gasping for breath, mainly from laughter." -The San Francisco Chronicle "A careening riot. . . . Ruff's second novel can only enhance his reputation as a fantasy writer with imagination to burn." -Kirkus Reviews "This exuberantly silly tale will find an audience among admirers of Steve Erickson and David Foster Wallace." -Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Matt Ruff has written three novels in a literary career spanning nearly two decades; all three are rooted somehow in fantasy and should be regarded as fine examples of speculative fiction. "Sewer, Gas Electric: The Public Works Trilogy" is a dazzling, hilarious cyberpunk adventure set in the New York City of 2023. Ruff conjurs up a bizarre, almost dystopian, view of a near-future New York City laced with the political wisdom of Ayn Rand, who returns, resurrected as a major protagonist in this novel. Multi-billionaire Harry Gant strives to build the tallest building in the world while his ex-wife, Joan Fine, is joined by Ayn Rand, as they wage war against homicidal robots and a sinister conspiracy involving Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's legendary first director, within the sewers of Manhattan. Ruff's novel is just as hilarious as Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash", but quite a bit longer. And not only are there apt comparisons to Stephenson's work here, but I can see some influence from the likes of Thomas Pynchon, Bruce Sterling and William Gibson too. Fans of "Snow Crash" and other cyberpunk fiction will not wish to miss this book. Without question, "Sewer, Gas, Electric: The Public Works Trilogy" is Ruff's splendid sophomore outing, and demonstrates to me why he may be the finest writer ever to have graduated from New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By jsdunk on July 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sewer, Gas and Electic is one of the strangest, most off-the-wall books I've read in years. And I loved almost every bit of it. If this is representive of Matt Ruff's work, he's a brilliant writer.
The only reason that I didn't give the book five stars is that the ending is a bit weak compared to the rest of the book. But, regardless of the ending, the ride was worth it.
The cast of Sewer, Gas and Electric includes a Multi-Billionare businessman, Harry Gant. Harry wants to do the right thing, but doing the right thing is boring -- it just doesn't hold his attention. So, he hired an environmentalist that he'd dated in college, Joan, as an executive in his company to keep him honest. They battle over company decisions and eventually marry and then divorce, all the time where the story occurs.
Other characters include a non-violent eco-terrorist with a submarine decorated with pink polka dots that he docks under the statue of liberty, the crew of the submarine, including a mixed Israeli/Palestinian family, and a few war veterns suffering from serious PTSD. Oh, and we can't forget the VERY evolved, very dangerous shark that has escaped from the NY City sewers. And the Queen of England...
Early on in the book, it isn't clear whether the plot revolves around Gant's quest to build a mile-high tower or the eco-terrorists efforts to stop Gant industries from drilling for oil in the Antarctica. It turns out that its neither.
I really don't want to give anything away. If you like science fiction and you enjoy off the wall plots and don't mind a bit of politically incorrect humor, you'll LOVE this book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christy Smith on February 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sewer, Gas & Electric takes place, for the most part, in New York City in 2023 as Matt Ruff explains in his intro: "...just like the present, only more so." Corporations dominate the city skyline with giant glowing advertisements while under them specially trained city workers track and kill the mutant inhabitants of the sewers. Althewhile, keeping these strange animals existence a secrete.

Early in the twenty-aughts a strange plague decimated the black population. This plague not only kills within days but also seemingly consumes the bodies leaving nothing behind. Nothing except strange rumors- tribes of green eyed blacks; while the ghosts of billions of dead negros seem to haunt every part of the Earth.

Ruff mixes the seemingly silly with the mortuary seriousness of a funeral and I have never read anything else that pulls off that conceit to this level of perfection except maybe , Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book) by Neal Stephenson. Below are a list of characters, if you feel that they are silly then you are right. If you are not a fan of Kurt Vonnegut or novels such as The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers or the above mentioned Stephenson you may want to look elsewhere. If by chance any of those are your favorites then you may be able to add another novel to that list:

Harry Gant: Eccentric billionaire and manufacturer of the electric negro
Joan Fine: Harry's ex-wife, eco warrior, ``white liberal Catholic'' and former Comptroller of Public Opinion at Gant Industries (main protagonist)
Philo Dufrense: Eco-terrorist and captain of the pink-and-green submarine designed by Howard Hughes the "Yabba-dabba-do".
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By To Do on April 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you have a 'Who is John Galt' bumper sticker or are a right leaning republican I would suggest you steer your canary yellow hummer well away from this novel. You won't like it and you'll probably dissuade other readers who may enjoy it. No plot recap here, I'll just list some other books and authors that I enjoy. If you like them you might like this too:

Gone-Away World Harkaway
Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel (Vintage) by Charles Yu
Neal Stephenson George Saunders Pynchon P.K.Dick Vonnegut
Anything with an out-there premiss and literate writing

Hope this
---------Helps.
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