Book review: Sewer, Gas & Electric (Public Works Trilogy) by Matt Ruff


Because I just finished this book, I thought it would be nice to post a short review here. To start, here’s the description from the book sleeve:

The year is 2023. High above Manhattan, human and android steelworkers are constructing a new Tower of Babel for billionaire Harry Gant. In the streets below, a Wall Street takeover artist has been murdered, and Gant’s crusading ex-wife has been hired to find out why. Accompanying her is Ayn Rand, resurrected from the dead and bottled in a hurricane lamp to serve as an unwilling assistant. Other characters in this extraordinary novel include submarine ecoterrorist Philo Dufrense; a Volkswagen Beetle possessed by the spirit of Abbie Hoffman; and Meisterbrau, a mutant great white shark running loose in the sewers beneath Times Square-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.

Now that you read that, you probably understand why I didn’t even try to write a better summary right? This book lives at an intersection of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the work of Neal Stephenson (Reamde, Cryptonomicon, Anathem). Matt Ruff’s writing style is very humorous and contains a lot of very strange characters and subplots just like HHGTTG. Coupled with this is the epic scale of the book and the very detailed descriptions of the world the story is set in that I have grown to love in Neal Stephenson’s books. The book at times is almost written like the plot of an action movie (again echoing Reamde) and once you start it’s hard to put it down. Like other books with complex storylines, the ending is never as good as the actual story (hard to wrap things up in a reasonable way usually) but this book actually does a decent job! Highly recommended!

Amazon link