Zodiac Paperback – 24 May 2001
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"Zodiac is a great read... A funny, non-stop adventure... A fun and fast-paced eco-thriller, with enough themes and "action" to keep the pages turning until they run out." (Peace News)
Frightening, funny, fast and furious, Zodiac is thrilling speculative fiction torn straight from today's headlines.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot is the main driver here, characterization outside of the protagonist is definitely skimpy, and in places the ecological warnings (though presented with apparent good scientific backing) become a little too strident, in places reminding me of Philip Wylie's The End of the Dream. Unlike some of his later books, his message is delivered almost directly, with little in the way of satire, irony, or his by-now patented brand of humor. The plot moves rapidly and logically, with enough potential hazard in the situation to easily quality as a 'thriller'. This makes for a quick read, but without his special zing that would make this book stand out.
Definitely an early effort, not in the class of his Snow Crash or The Diamond Age, still quite readable, but probably a must only for Stephenson hard-core fans.
Sangamon Taylor is a chemist for the Northwestern chapter of GEE International (Group of Environmental Extremists). He is blond shaggy haired and wears tennis shoes and multiple t-shirts. A graduate of Boston University he is looked down upon by those from MIT.
He sees himself as the archnemesis of the chemical company Basco the number two polluter in the table of polluters of Boston Harbour. The Boston population as a whole and the sewage they produce hold the number one spot.
Zodiac is the only hardboiled ecological thriller I know of and it features what has become the trademark Stephenson wit. The book features assassination attempts, genetically engineered bacteria and a cast of characters that ranges from Native Americans to the Executives of chemical companies and their heavy metal loving teenage sons.
A mystery not of the whodunit variety, but more of the what the heck happened and why did it happen. The book also acts as an introduction to environmental issues and the science of pollution.
Even though it doesn't feature any hackers the hacker ethos is present in the book in the form of Sangamon Taylor a cool anti-establishment chemistry nerd.
The return of the psycho nerd Dolmacher in Zodiac has similarities to that of Andrew Loeb in Cryptonomicon.Read more ›
"I just cycle like I'm covered in day-glo and there's a million-dollar bounty on my head," indeed. Heh.
But the story falters as it progresses, and I get the feeling that he got bored with the project about two-thirds of the way into it. Sangamon Taylor's all negatives; he hates pollutors, but he doesn't seem to love what he protects. Ancillary characters like Boone are woefully under-fleshed, where there could have been some great interaction (questioning why activists do what they do, for example - out of love or hate?), there's just movement.
It's a fun book, and if you've got a Greenpeace membership, you'll enjoy it, but it's not a patch on Stephenson's best work.
Unfortunately, 'Zodiac' did not live up to my expectations. I found it to be poorly researched (and, although I hesistate to say it, I must consider adding "if at all" to that), and containing some extraordinarily shaky science.
Furthermore, the actions of some of the characters, both main and supporting, are so unbelieveably amateurish as to defeat the reader's suspension of disbelief - a far cry from the usually polished work of the man who almost had me hearing the glossolalia in 'Snow Crash'.
I'd rather not turn this review into a character assassination of this book - some may like it, and I note that other reviews on Amazon have been quite favourable. 'Zodiac' is not Cyberpunk, but also doesn't shine the contemporary thriller category. To be honest I'm not sure what Mr. Stephenson was attempting to achieve with this book, but I'm very very glad that so far he's not repeated what I believe was a mistake.
To be honest - one to avoid. In fact, if you must get this book you can have my copy!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A well-written eco-thriller (with slight SF overtones)Published 14 months ago by pavel tsimbl-grimpler
Another excellent story from Neal Stephenson. Although not as long, or heavy, as some of his work it is still an excellent read.Published 22 months ago by Grumpyoldgit
I was so pleased to pick up a copy of this classic, its a great story. If you like Michael Chrichton's Next or Prey, give this a try.Published on 6 Mar. 2014 by Amazon Customer
really great book by a writer at the top of his game...not quite as good as cryptonomicom though but that is difficult because it's really a brilliant bookPublished on 1 Sept. 2013 by J. R. Baillie
Not quite hitting his stride yet, but still a rattling yarn. All the usual things you'd expect from Neal Stephenson - a bit of a science lesson snuck in between the visceral action... Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2013 by Mr. T. J. Thwaites
This is a little different to the usual books I read but found myself gripped and I read this is one day (yes it was raining outside). Read morePublished on 18 July 2011 by C. L. Fraser
I really love this book, and now own two copies because so many of my friends have been borrowing it. Read morePublished on 14 Aug. 2009 by Littledasypus