Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy…to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction…to the philosopher who becomes a pirate…to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad…to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels.
Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.
Victoria is baffled. Across her railroad empire, tunnels are collapsing at an extraordinary rate. Until recently everything had been under control but suddenly barely a third of her tunnels were operable.
It’s bad enough that her good friend Hugo, who had always been there for her with words of wisdom and comfort, but ever since his fiancé had died in the horrible yacht fire, he’d collapsed into despair, turning from engineering miracles to chasing beautiful women.
So she begins her search to find the reason for the sudden collapse of her business. When questioning the heads of each area she finds that until the previous week, one district leader had been feeding his area director suggestions on furthering the efficiency of tunnel construction, usually resulting in last minute adjustments that would save areas from collapse. Victoria travels to the district leader’s station, and asks him why he has stopped coming up with ideas. He confesses that the ideas were not his, but one of his workers, a man named Atlas who had mysteriously disappeared just over a week ago.
Victoria has a hard time comprehending that an entire company’s collapse could be from one tunnel worker’s disappearance, but can not find any other possible causes.
But people are lining up to watch her company fall. One in particular, the cutthroat business pirate Mr. Brown is rallying all of her opposition, claiming that if she doesn’t sell her business, it will completely fail. Just when is seems that he will force her out of her office, he disappears.
Victoria is accused of foul play, but again is saved from the rising tide of malice as reports of other people disappearing crop up throughout the world. Production of all supplies stall as all the innovators begin to vanish. Victoria spends most of her time in amazement, wondering if this collapse truly took place simply because a man named Atlas disappeared from the earth.
Eventually, almost all of Victoria’s acquaintances disappear. Her closest associate, Juan Luego leaves just before they close a deal that would provide Victoria access to his giant steel factories. The people that are left behind quickly flee the cities as food runs out, reverting to farming and feudal systems of government. Victoria tries to track down Hugo, and finds him still in the cities, drunk at an abandoned bar. As she carries him towards her house she feels a push from the ground, and vanishes.
Hugo was left alone, with a vague memory of his sister’s disappearance, and left only to mourn his fall from genius that kept him on the ground.
See Atlas’s Viewpoint at Cloud Atlas.