OVERLOAD by Arthur Hailey
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The story of the Golden State Power and Light Company, the gigantic utility supplying California and the Far West with most of its power, as it slips and slides under triple crosswaves. The company is running at full output to match unprecedented consumer drain, and brownouts and blackouts are inevitable. Terrorists have just knocked out the biggest generator in the system, causing a colossal foulup. And environmentalists have banded together, quite successfully, to forestall the building of new generators, those using an atomic pile in particular. There are human beings in this novel also but, as ever, Halley (Hotel, Airport, Wheels) is most intent on exposing the inner workings of an industry. Here he even has a strong point of view, heavily stacking the argument against nice-nelly ecologists. His hero is GSP&L's public-relations man, Nimrod Goldman, who is forever on T.V. and shouting for new generators. Nimrod, a mighty hunter of women, is bedeviled by his own attractiveness to the ladies, and in the course of the story he beds 1) a woman on the eve of her husband's boiling to death, 2) a quadriplegic girl in a respirator, 3) the wife of a sterile fellow utilities man--she becomes pregnant, 4) and, at last, his own wife--but only after she reveals that she has terminal cancer. And there are others. Meanwhile, bomb-deaths are mounting as a well-to-do, youthful Marxist and his band attack plants, send letter-bombs, and try to blow up a hotel. The usual Harley treatment--but this one, with the coming energy crunch, is the most timely yet and certain to move fast over all circuits.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday