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Overload (1979) is a novel by Arthur Hailey, concerning the electricity production industry in California and the activities of the employees and others involved with Golden State Power and Light, a fictional California public service company. The novel is described from the point of view of vice-president of Golden State Power and Light, Mr. Nimrod Goldman, often mentioned as Nim.
The geographic area of service of the fictional electric utility, Golden State, matches the actual Northern California footprint of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The plots follow many of the issues of the day, including race relations, corporate politics, business ethics, terrorism and journalism.
Golden State Power and Light is a public service company, supplying to two-thirds of California's electric power. In a hot summer, GSP&L as it is called, loses a lot of electric power due to a terrorist attack on an oil burner, called Big Lil. There is a board meeting about it. The chairman of GSP&L, Eric Humphrey,leaves the matter in the hands of Nim Goldman, one of the many vice-presidents and Ray Paulsen. After the explosion of Big Lil, which killed chief engineer, Walter Talbot, Nim visits Ardythe, Walter's wife and Wally, his son. After some time, Nim and Ardythe make love. Teresa Van Buren, PRO, makes Nim go to Karen Sloan, a quadriplegic, whom he instantly befriends. Angering Ruth, his wife and his children Leah and Benjamin. Later, Nim and Harry London, property protection president, go to Brookside, to catch power thieves. And surprisingly, they catch many. Nim later learns that the terrorist attacks were by 'Friends of Freedom'. Later the leader of the group, Georgos Archambault, mails letter bombs and kills five people including president Fraser Fenton.Because of this, Nim forms the think group with Oscar O'Brien the lawyer,Teresa Van Buren andH arry London. Laura Bo Carmichael, chairman of environmentalists Sequoia Clubs with Nim to protest the building of three plants at Tunipah, Fincastle valley and Devil's Gate. But Nim continues and the plants, a geothermal at Fincastle and a hydro at Devil's Gate are launched. At Devil's Gate, Wally Talbot is electrocuted after he tries to save a technician's child. A California Examiner reporter, Nancy Molineaux, reports Goldman to be selfish. David Birdsong, leader of Power and Light for People, and Sequoia Club hold a trial against GSP&L. Nim and the press go to Fincastle, to see a gruesome elctrocution of Wally Talbot. Birdsong and Georgos later plan to destroy the power workers, including Nim Goldman who would meet for a conference at a hotel.Unknown to Georgos, Yvette, his mistress knows of his plans and betrays him to Nancy Molineaux,who reports it to the police thirty-six minutes before the bombs go off. In an attempt to secure the last remaining bomb, Art ROmeo, London's assistant is blown to pieces when the bomb goes off. The think group finally arrest David Birdsong and expose Georgos. Georgos attempts to bomb Big Lil, but he is killed by the pump's blades. Karen Sloan dies after her respirator fails due to a power outage and the novel ends as Nim finally befriends Nancy Molineaux and visits her in her house.