A technological vision in need of a John McPhee. Nigel Chattey is an engineer and zealot who for seine years has been pushing a scheme for an Island Complex Offshore New York and New Jersey (ICONN), which, together with a rebuilt Erie Canal, would turn inland coal into cheap, non-polluting power, trans-ship natural gas safely, and variously solve the Northeast's energy, environmental, and employment problems. Syracuse newsman Ehmann became a convert, and he here relates Chattey's unceasing efforts to sell the idea to innumerable groups--state and federal authorities, academic bodies and private institutions--in an interminable series of presentations. In between, he talks up the Erie Canal as a similar vision, and looks in on two analogous Dutch engineering triumphs, the Great Barrier Dyke and Rotterdam's Europort. The point of the story is everyone's inability to think-big (and the unspecified evils of ""politics""); the arch-villain is New York's Governor Carey, whose impending departure ends the book on a cheerful note. The actual pros and tons of ICONN/Erie are impossible to judge in Ehmann's tangled, partisan presentation, while Chattey himself, forever griping and endlessly quoted, is a bore. For a like scheme, meticulously explained, see ""Atlantic Generating Station"" in McPhee's Giving Good Weight.