Pump Six: 08/30/08
The first story in the September issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, "Pump Six" was published earlier this year in Pump Six and Other Stories. Having so enjoyed the title story, I would love to read the rest of the book.
"Pump Six" is a near future tale of a water treatment engineer just trying to live his life and keep the sewage pumps running in a city that is slowly but steadily falling apart. The city happens to be New York but it's a New York in a time when the stock exchange is no longer running, skyscrapers are crumbling from a lack of maintenance, the last taxi was spotted years ago and blackouts are common.
The engineer protagonist knows something is amiss with the world and when pump six finally fails beyond his ability to repair it, he begins to wonder why and more importantly if the rest of the cities ills are interconnected.
The story takes place in the 22nd century based on the age of pumps. The technology that keeps the sewage from backing up is about one hundred years old and it has outlived the company that built it. It's a frank but chilling reminder of the legacy technology that modern day cities function with. Take for instance the New York subway system; it first opened for business in 1904. Or for a much older city, consider the many layers of history and legacy structures in London as described in Underground London and London: The Biography.
If you enjoy urban dystopian tales, I also recommend: