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The year is 2023. High above the canyons of Manhattan, a crew of human and android steelworkers is approaching the halfway point in the construction of a new Tower of Babel. The Tower is the brainchild of billionaire Harry Gant, who is building it as a monument to humanity’s power to dream. Meanwhile, in the streets and tunnels below, a darker game is afoot: a Wall Street takeover artist has been murdered, and Gant’s ex-wife, Joan Fine, has been hired to find out why. Accompanying her is philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, resurrected from the dead by computer and bottled in a hurricane lamp to serve as Joan’s unwilling assistant. While Rand vainly attempts to tutor her in “the virtue of selfishness,” Joan discovers that the murder is the key to a much larger mystery, one in which millions of lives may hang in the balance.
The world of Sewer, Gas & Electric includes such characters as eco-terrorist Philo Dufresne, an environmentally conscious pirate who stalks the East Coast shipping lanes in a pink-and-green submarine designed by Howard Hughes; Philo’s daughter Seraphina, who lives in the walls of the New York Public Library; newspaper publisher Lexa Thatcher, whose Volkswagen Beetle is possessed by the spirit of Abbey Hoffman; Kite Edmonds, a one-armed, 181-year-old Civil War veteran who joins Joan and Ayn in their quest for the truth; 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. The story also has lemurs in it.