One day in the future all the lights in the city go out. The turbines stop, the telephones become quiet, the traffic lights shut down, TVs dim and computers download, and elevators wedge between the office towers’ floors. Hospitals with battery-run backup supplies stay functional, but the banks and the stock exchange with their E-Money, the government offices and transnational boardrooms, the TV studios and radio stations, the cafes and bars and restaurants, are all unplugged. We’d be engulfed by a night unlike anything anyone has known since before the Edison Illumination Company lit up New York City in eighteen eighty-two, extending the hours of the day, turning the streets into a twilight spectacle of artifice, priming the crowds for the first time to watch and wait. The city would wink out and everything would shudder, flicker, and slam back to the time of candles, torches, and bon fires, and the smell of kerosene and wood-smoke. . . . In that break, massive and complete, we would realize how the private and the public realms have been fused into a giant network with every point subject to what arises elsewhere.
—B. W. Powe, Outage: A Journey Into Electric City (1995)Posted by mgk at August 14, 2003 05:38 PM