Zodiac

Zodiac

by Neal Stephenson

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Overview

Zodiac, the brilliant second novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the The Baroque Cycle and Snow Crash , is now available from Grove Press. Meet Sangamon Taylor, a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil—all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor’s house is bombed, his every move followed, he’s adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI’s most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate. Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roommate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802143150
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 08/10/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 471,246
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Neal Stephenson (1959) is an American author, futurist and game designer most well known for his works of speculative fiction. He was first published in 1984, but it was not until the publication of his third book Snow Crash that he became widely known. He gained further notoriety in 1999 with the publication of Cryptonomicon which would later go on to earn the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2013. Since 2000 he has published several other major works including his Baroque Cycle, Anathem and most recently Seveneves. He lives in Seattle.

Hometown:

Seattle, Washington

Date of Birth:

October 31, 1959

Place of Birth:

Fort Meade, Maryland

Education:

B.A., Boston University, 1981

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Roscommon came and laid waste to the garden an hour after dawn, about the time I usually get out of bed and he usually passes out on the shoulder of some freeway. My landlord and I have an arrangement. He charges me and my housemates little rent — by Boston standards, none at all — and in return we let him play fast and loose with our ecosystem. Every year at about this time he destroys my garden. He's been known to send workmen into the house without warning, knock out walls in the middle of the night, shut off the water while we shower, fill the basement with unidentified fumes, cut down elms and maples for firewood, and redecorate our rooms. Then he claims he's showing the dump to prospective tenants and we'd better clean it up. Pronto.

This morning I woke to the sound of little green pumpkins exploding under the tires of his station wagon. Then Roscommon stumbled out and tore down our badminton net. After he left, I got up and went out to buy a Globe. Wade Boggs had just twisted his ankle and some PCB- contaminated waste oil was on fire in Southie.

When I got back, bacon was smoldering on the range, filling the house with gas-phase polycyclic aromatics — my favorite carcinogen by a long shot. Bartholomew was standing in front of the stove. With the level, cross-eyed stare of the involuntarily awake, he was watching a heavy-metal video on the TV. He was clenching an inflated Hefty bag that took up half the kitchen. Once again, my roommate was using nitrous oxide around an open flame; no wonder he didn't have any eyebrows. When I came in, he raised the bag invitingly. Normally I never do nitrous before breakfast, but I couldn't refuse Bart a thing in the world, so I took the bag and inhaled as deep as I could. My mouth tasted sweet and five seconds later about half of an orgasm backfired in the middle of my brain.

On the screen, poodle-headed rockers were strapping a cheerleader to a sheet of particle board decorated with a pentagram. Far away, Bartholomew was saying: "Pöyzen Böyzen, man. Very hot."

It was too early for social criticism. I grabbed the channel selector.

"No Stooges on at this hour," Bart warned, "I checked." But I'd already moved us way up into Deep Cable, where a pair of chawmunching geezers were floating on a nontoxic river in Dixie, demonstrating how to push-start a comatose fish.

Tess emerged from the part of the house where women lived and bathrooms were clean. She frowned against the light, scowling at our bubbling animal flesh, our cubic yard of nitrous. She rummaged in the fridge for some homemade yogurt. "Don't you guys ever lay off that stuff?"

"Meat or gas?"

"You tell me. Which one's more toxic?"

"Sangamon's Principle," I said. "The simpler the molecule, the better the drug. So the best drug is oxygen. Only two atoms. The second-best, nitrous oxide — a mere three atoms. The third-best, ethanol — nine. Past that, you're talking lots of atoms."

"So?"

"Atoms are like people. Get lots of them together, never know what they'll do. It is my understanding, Tess, that you've been referring to me, about town, as a 'Granola James Bond'."

Tess didn't give a fuck. "Who told you about that?"

"You come up with a cute phrase, it gets around."

"I thought you'd enjoy it."

"Even a horse's ass like me can detect sarcasm."

"So what would you rather be called?"

"Toxic Spiderman. Because he's broke and he never gets laid."

Tess squinted at me, implying that there was a reason for both problems. Bart broke the silence. "Shit, man, Spiderman's got his health. James Bond probably has AIDS."

I went outside and followed Roscommon's tire tracks through the backyard. All the pumpkins were destroyed, but I didn't care about these decoys. What could you do with a pumpkin? Get orange shit all over the house? The important stuff — corn and tomatoes — were planted up against fences or behind piles of rubble, where his station wagon couldn't reach.

We'd never asked Roscommon if we could plant a garden out here in the Largest Yard in Boston. Which, because it wasn't supposed to exist, gave him the right to drive over it. Gardens have to be watered, you see, and water bills are included in our nominal rent, so by having a garden we're actually ripping him off.

There was at least an acre back here, tucked away in kind of a space warp caused by Brighton's irrational street pattern. Not even weeds knew how to grow in this field of concrete and brick rubble. When we started the garden, Bartholomew and Ike and I spent two days sifting through it, putting the soil into our plot, piling the rest in cairns. Other piles were scattered randomly around the Largest Back Yard in Boston. Every so often Roscommon would dynamite another one of his holdings, show up with a rented dump truck, back across the garden, through the badminton net, and over some lawn furniture, and make a new pile.

I just hoped he didn't try to stash any toxic waste back there. I hoped that wasn't the reason for the low rent. Because if he did that, I would be forced to call down a plague upon his house. I would evacuate his bank accounts, burn his villages, rape his horses, sell his children into slavery. The whole Toxic Spiderman bit. And then I'd have to become the penniless alter ego, the Toxic Peter Parker. I'd have to pay real Boston rent, a thousand a month, with no space for badminton.

Peter Parker is the guy who got bit by the radioactive spider, the toxic bug if you will, and became Spiderman. Normally he's a nebbish. No money, no prestige, no future. But if you try to mug him in a dark alley, you're meat. The question he keeps asking himself is: "Do those moments of satisfaction I get as Spiderman make up for all the crap I have to take as Peter Parker?" In my case, the answer is yes.

In the dark ages of my life, when I worked at Massachusetts Analytical Chemical Systems, or Mass Anal for short, I owned your basic VW van. But a Peter Parker type can't afford car insurance in this town, so now I transport myself on a bicycle. So once I'd fueled myself up on coffee and Bart's baco-cinders — nothing beats an all-black breakfast — and read all the comics, I threw one leg over my battle-scarred all-terrain stump-jumper and rode several miles to work.

Hurricane Alison had blown through the day before yesterday, trailed by hellacious rainfall. Tree branches and lakes of rainwater were in the streets. We call it rainwater; actually it's raw sewage. The traffic signal at Comm Ave and Charlesgate West was fried. In Boston, this doesn't lead to heartwarming stories in the tabloids about ordinary citizens who get out of their cars to direct traffic. Instead, it gives us the excuse to drive like the Chadian army. Here we had two lanes of traffic crossing with four, and the two were losing out in a big way. Comm Ave was backed up all the way into B.U. So I rode between the lanes for half a mile to the head of the class.

The problem is, if the two drivers at the front of the line aren't sufficiently aggressive, it doesn't matter how tough the people behind them are. The whole avenue will just sit there until it collectively boils over. And horn honking wasn't helping, though a hundred or so motorists were giving it a try.

When I got to Charlesgate West, where Comm Ave was cut off by the torrent pouring down that one-way four-laner, I found an underpowered station wagon from Maine at the head of one lane, driven by a mom who was trying to look after four children, and a vintage Mercedes in the other, driven by an old lady who looked like she'd just forgotten her own address. And half a dozen bicyclists, standing there waiting for a real asshole to take charge.

What you have to do is take it one lane at a time. I waited for a twenty- foot gap in traffic on the first lane of Charlesgate and just eased out into it.

The approaching BMW made an abortive swerve toward the next lane, causing a ripple to spread across Charlesgate as everyone for ten cars back tried to head east. Then he throbbed to a halt (computerized antilock braking system) and slumped over on his horn button. The next lane was easy: some Camaro-driving freshman from Jersey made the mistake of slowing down and I seized his lane. The asshole in the BMW tried to cut behind me but half the bicyclists, and the biddy in the Benz, had the presence of mind to lurch out and block his path.

Within ten seconds a huge gap showed up in the third lane, and I ate it up before Camaro could swerve over. I ate it up so aggressively that some Clerk Typist II in a Civic slowed down in the fourth lane long enough for me to grab that one. And then the dam broke as the Chadian army mounted a charge and reamed out the intersection. I figured BMW, Camaro, and Civic could shut their engines off and go for a walk.

Pedestrians and winos applauded. A young six-digit lawyer, hardly old enough to shave, cruised up from ten cars back and shouted out his electric sunroof that I really had balls.

I said, "Tell me something I didn't know, you fucking android from Hell."

The Mass Ave Bridge took me over the Charles. I stopped halfway across to look it over. The river, that is. The river and the Harbor, they're my stock in trade. Not much wind today and I took a big whoof of river air in my nostrils, wondering what kind of crap had been dumped into it, upstream, the night before. Which might sound kind of primitive, but the human nose happens to be an exquisitely sensitive analytical device. There are certain compounds for which your schnozz is the best detector ever made. No machine can beat it. For example, I can tell a lot about a car by smelling its exhaust: how well the engine is tuned, whether it's got a catalytic converter, what kind of gas it burns.

So every so often I smell the Charles, just to see if I'm missing anything. For a river that's only thirty miles long, it has the width and the toxic burdens of the Ohio or the Cuyahoga.

Then through the MIT campus, through the milling geeks with the fifty-dollar textbooks under their arms. College students look so damn young these days. Not long ago I was going to school on the other side of the river, thinking of these trolls as peers and rivals. Now I just felt sorry for them. They probably felt sorry for me. By visual standards, I'm the scum of the earth. The other week I was at a party full of Boston yuppies, the originals, and they were all complaining about the panhandlers on the Common, how aggressive they'd become. I hadn't noticed, myself, since they never panhandled me. Then I figured out why: because I looked like one of them. Blue jeans with holes in the knees. Tennis shoes with holes over the big toes, where my uncut toenails rub against the toeclips on my bicycle. Several layers of t-shirts, long underwear tops, and flannel shirts, easily adjustable to regulate my core temperature. Shaggy blond hair, cut maybe once a year. Formless red beard, trimmed or lopped off maybe twice a year. Not exactly fat, but blessed with the mature, convex body typical of those who live on Thunderbird and Ding-Dongs. No briefcase, aimless way of looking around, tendency to sniff the river.

Though I rode through MIT on a nice bike, I'd sprayed it with some cheap gold paint so it wouldn't look nice. Even the lock looked like a piece of shit: a Kryptonite lock all scarred up by boltcutters. We'd used it to padlock a gate on a toxic site last year and the owners had tried to get through using the wrong tools.

In California I could have passed for a hacker, heading for some high- tech company, but in Massachusetts even the hackers wore shirts with buttons. I pedalled through hacker territory, through the strip of little high- tech shops that feed off MIT, and into the square where my outfit has its regional office.

GEE, the Group of Environmental Extremists. Excuse me: GEE International. They employ me as a professional asshole, an innate talent I've enjoyed ever since second grade, when I learned how to give my teacher migraine headaches with a penlight. I could cite other examples, give you a tour down the gallery of the broken and infuriated authority figures who have tried to teach, steer, counsel, reform, or suppress me over the years, but that would sound like boasting. I'm not that proud of being a congenital pain in the ass. But I will take money for it.

I carried my bike up four flights of stairs, doing my bit for physical fitness. GEE stickers were plastered on the risers of the stairs, so there was always a catch phrase six feet in front of your eyes: SAVE THE WHALES and something about the BABY SEALS. By the time you made it up to the fourth floor, you were out of breath, and fully indoctrinated. Locked my bike to a radiator, because you never knew, and went in.

Tricia was running the front desk. Flaky but nice, has a few strange ideas about phone etiquette, thinks I'm all right. "Oh, shit," she said.

"What?"

"You won't believe it."

"What?"

"The other car."

"The van?"

"Yeah. Wyman."

"How bad?"

"We don't know yet. It's still sitting out on the shoulder."

I just assumed it was totalled, and that Wyman would have to be fired, or at least busted down to a position where he couldn't so much as sit in a GEE car. A mere three days ago he had taken our Subaru out to buy duct tape, and in a parking lot no larger than a tennis court, had managed to ram a concrete light-pole pedestal hard enough to total the vehicle. His fifteen- minute explanation was earnest but impossible to follow; when I asked him to just start from the beginning, he accused me of being too linear.

Now he'd trashed our one remaining shitbox van. The national office would probably hear of it. I almost felt sorry for him.

"How?"

"He thinks he shifted into reverse on the freeway."

"Why? It's got an automatic transmission."

"He likes to think for himself."

"Where is he now?"

"Who knows? I think he's afraid to come in."

"No. You'd be afraid to come in. I might be afraid. Wyman won't be afraid. You know what he'll do? He'll come in fresh as a daisy and ask for the keys to the Omni."

Fortunately I'd taken all the keys to the Omni, other than my own, and hammered them into slag. And whenever I parked it, I opened the hood and yanked out the coil wire and put it in my pocket.

You might think that the lack of coil wire or even keys would not stop members of the GEE strike force, Masters of Stealth, Scourge of Industry, from starting a car for very long. Aren't these the people who staged their own invasion of the Soviet Union? Didn't they sneak a supposedly disabled, heavily guarded ship out of Amsterdam? Don't they skim across the oceans in high-powered Zodiacs held together with bubble gum and bobby pins, coming to the rescue of innocent marine mammals?

Well sometimes they do, but only a handful have those kinds of talents, and I'm the only one in the Northeast office. The others, like Wyman, tend to be ex-English majors who affect a hysterical helplessness in the face of things with moving parts. Talk to them about cams or gaskets and they'll sing you a protest song. To them, yanking out the Omni's coil wire was black magic.

"And you got three calls from Fotex. They really want to talk to you.

"What about?"

"The guy wants to know if they should shut their plant down today."

The day before, talking to some geek at Fotex, I'd mumbled something about closing them down. But in fact I was going to New Jersey tomorrow to close someone else down, so Fotex could keep dumping phenols, acetone, phthalates, various solvents, copper, silver, lead, mercury, and zinc into Boston Harbor to their heart's content, at least until I got back.

"Tell them I'm in Jersey." That would keep them guessing; Fotex had some plants down there also.

I went back to my office, cutting across a barnlike room where most of the other GEE people sat among half-completed banners and broken Zodiac parts, drinking herbal teas and talking into phones:

"500 ppm sounds good to me."

"Don't put us on the back page of the Food section."

"Do those breed in estuaries?"

I wasn't one of those GEE veterans who got his start spraying orange dye on baby seals in Newfie, or getting beat senseless by Frog commandos in the South Pacific. I slipped into it, moonlighting for them while I held down my job at Mass Anal. Partly by luck, I broke a big case for GEE, right before my boss figured out what an enormous pain in the ass I could be. Mass Anal fired, GEE hired. My salary was cut in half and my ulcer vanished: I could eat onion rings at IHOP again, but I couldn't afford to.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Zodiac"
by .
Copyright © 1988 Neal Stephenson.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Zodiac 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Zeuxidamas More than 1 year ago
Zodiac is a solid effort. While, for me, it will never rank up there with any of the Ender's Game books or anything by Stephen R. Donaldson or Frank Herbert, I was entertained. I do not know or understand a lot about the plight of our planet, so this short excursion into an understanding of toxic threats (from a chemical science perspective; not from a political one) was new material for me. Somewhat educational, or at least awakening, the backdrop of action probably allowed me to absorb it a little more readily. The climax is a page-turner, I just wish it had been more-so throughout the entire book. It is a quick read and not too heavy. It is a great book for a rainy-day (as some speed-readers could likely finish it in a day or two), and a decent break from the heavier stuff for anyone who is usually a history, business, or other non-fiction reader. I will likely not avoid more Stephenson books, but I will not necessarily be seeking them out. Like your first motorcycle, I will remember the book fondly, while also looking forward to moving on to better things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After a somewhat rough start, Stephenson straps you in for a full speed ride in his Zodiac. Recommended reading for all who are interested in the varagices of chemical and hazardous waste and it impacts. Stephenson builds this thriller using archtypical charachters in a way that is both amusing and informative. The hidden practices of both his enviornmental group and the chemical companies are truly hysterical. He uses abstract philosphies and science in equal measure to yield a page turning read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of his more focused stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stephenson at his best!
Gwendydd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as thought-provoking or astoundingly creative as a lot of Stephenson's other works, but good, solid, fun, with all the typical Stephenson hallmarks. It was a good book to read out loud - one of the few Stephenson books that isn't too complicated to read out loud.
raypratt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great older Stephenson, before he got so complicated.(Don't get me wrong, I like his latr works, it's just that this harked back to "Snow Crash", whick was the first novel of his that I read & enjoyed) Eco-guerilla takes on the polluters with ingenuity and a sense of humor. Good stuff.
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boston Harbor is under attack by corporations flooding the waterways with toxic waste. Fish are floating belly up, Lobster livers are puddles of PCB infested ooze and several citizens are developing a nasty rash. Sangamon Taylor, eco-warrior and former chemist, utilizes his brilliance to solve eco-crimes and expose the polluting mega-corporations. Zodiac resounds with Neal Stephenson's trademark wit and satirical storytelling ability. The characters are primarily caricatures and the book somehow maintains the reader's interest in spite of several multi-page chemistry lessons. Zodiac is a story that only Neal Stephenson could pull off. Highly recommended.
lbspen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though I have liked other books by Neal Stephenson, this one is turning out to be a tough read. The story meanders literally and figuratively through a murky world of pollution. The story could have been "A day in the life of an in-your-face environmental activist" till about halfway through. I had been about to give up on it, but the humor kept me reading.I'm not a chemist, but the technical depth seems realistic and gently explained. There were enough general principles to hang onto when wading through details of molecules and chemical processes. As in his other books, he stretches the boundaries of existing science and asks some hard "what-if" questions.I'd recommend it if you have read other Neal Stephenson books and like his style and approach. I wouldn't choose it for a first Stephenson read, however. It's a bit toxic around the edges and might deter a reader from expanding into his later books.
berbels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a good first book for any author. Very eco/green centric- I like this book better than anything Stephenson has written since the diamond age.
angharad_reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book, well worth the reread. I was surprised by the many Big Macs that everyone in the environmental group was eating. That would not happen nowadays.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"You've come a long way, baby," is my pithy, surprised response when, having never experienced or heard of N. Stephenson, I read Zodiac followed immediate by Cryptonomicon. Like watching a clip of an NBA future-star as a freshman in college then cutting to one as a rookie in the NBA. The progression of skills writing-wise is stark, and a reader of Zodiac shouldn't expect more than a late 80's thriller with a moderately good story and main character, written by a novice. This book does not stand up to later Stephenson works; it's wonderful to see the writing get better.All that said, the story is not science fiction, any more than any modern thriller that introduces a technically advanced gun (that is so technically advanced as to not be truly possible with today's technology) is science fiction. The story is set in then-current times and only in the middle and late in the story does it deal with the release by a corporation of an advanced organism/chemical catalyst that is meant to reduce pollution but has some other originally unintended effects and uses. In the context of the story, there is nothing fantastic about it (unless the reader is a very practically minded chemical engineer and could list off the 3 reasons that such a chemical could not be manufacturer) and the name eco-thriller pretty much describes it.The main character, Sangamon, is quite a piece of work, a self-absorbed, criminal James Bond former engineer-cool-guy rebel, but mostly just a rebel who likes to cause trouble as 'fights the power'. The subtlety of this character, having many layers and being complex and real, is perhaps 'the' redeeming factor in this book that makes it worth sticking with and really a 'good' book. The character I found really unique among many, many novels, which is saying something. In his relationships with women, and his home/rental/living situation definitely is written as pulp fiction, and Stephenson's ability (with Sangamon's help) to write pulpy stuff interspersed with the story, is flavorful. I would not recommend this for anyone other than open-minded Stephenson fans or people employed in the green movement or people from Boston.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Zodiac was my first exposure to Neal Stephenson¿s writing. I understand this is an earlier work of his and may not be one of his better efforts. Nonetheless, I found this to be a very worthwhile read, mainly because of Stephenson¿s flowing way with words.The plot is stretched thin at points, very thin indeed, but remember, this is a work of fiction. I would also rank Stephenson¿s ability to get his ecological point across above Carl Hiaasen¿s stories. I don¿t know the ecology is a reoccurring theme in Stephenson¿s works, but I like his overall style enough to want to read more of him.While some of the story is dated, the message and the bad guys are still current. If you are a fan of ecoterrorism, this is a must read. If you like science in your fiction without it being space borne Science Fiction, you will be a fan of this book. Hopefully the rest of the author¿s works are even better.
PortiaLong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yawn...very disappointing, given how much I have enjoyed some of Mr. Stephenson's other work. Eco-terrorists fight back agains corporate bad guys by doing a lot of drugs and blowing stuff up. It probably didn't help that I found the protagonist to be...well...annoying, so I really didn't care if he got shot, or blown up, or whatever.Inoffensive, just boring.
rakerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Neil Stephenson's book Zodiac, which is one of his earlier works, is fairly weak. However, it's good reading for Haligonians, because much of its discussion of Boston's environmental problems is still relevant to Halifax. The Halifax sewer system is just as bad and Halifax's harbour still as dirty as Boston's used to be.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the best thing he's ever written, but no real surprise there. It's an ecologically minded novel, though I wouldn't call it an eco-thriller, more's the pity.
daschaich on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, "Eco-Thriller": "Zodiac" is Neal Stephenson's second book, written between the unimpressive "The Big U" and the cyberpunk classic "Snow Crash." It was mildly successful and according to Stephenson, "on first coming out in 1988 it quickly developed a cult following among water-pollution-control engineers and was enjoyed, though rarely bought, by many radical environmentalists." Unlike Stephenson's more recent works, it involves only one linear plot line, and is also of a more reasonable size. This may make it his most accessible work, though it isn't his most entertaining.The story is told in the first person, from the perspective of Sangamon "S.T." Taylor, a Boston chemist employed by the Group of Environmental Extremists (GEE), International - an organization probably inspired by Greenpeace. S.T. works as a professional headache for industrial polluters flaunting the law and endangering their communities. His job is to terrorize the companies into acting in what is really their own best interest (i.e., not destroying the earth for short-term savings). Of course, it should go without saying that S.T. does not actually use terrorism to terrorize these polluters. Rather, he works with a potent mix of trespassing, his classic tactic of plugging up the pipes dumping toxic waste into the water supply, and his ultimate weapon: Bad Publicity."Zodiac" starts of with some fun actions of this sort, but the story does not really begin until S.T. unexpectedly finds incredibly large amounts of incredibly toxic PCBs in Boston Harbor. Just as soon as he starts his investigation, however, the poisons disappear - which, if it had happened spontaneously, would be a mind-boggling 'violation' of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Since there's no known way for PCBs to be removed from the water by hand, the only explanation is that S.T. has committed the screw-up of a lifetime. No sooner has S.T. resigned himself to this fate than the PCBs reappear, in even greater quantities. That's when large numbers of people start trying to kill him. To say nothing of the Satanists. Framed as an ecoterrorist, S.T. is forced to flee Boston and join forces with the real environmental extremists in order to unravel the mystery of the PCBs, redeem himself, and, quite possibly, save the world.So "Zodiac" really is an "Eco-Thriller," and I enjoyed it as much as (if not more than) the more famous "Snow Crash." At the very least, "Zodiac" has aged better. While some parts of "Snow Crash" read like the the wildest fantasies of the .com boom, "Zodiac" could easily be set anytime in the next (or past) twenty years. Many of the book's apparent flaws come from comparison to Stephenson's later work: "Zodiac" lacks both the intricate, awe-inspiring complexity of "Cryptonomicon" and "The Baroque Cycle" as well as much of the indescribable brand of humor that made "Snow Crash" and "Cryptonomicon" so memorable. Another gripe could be characters - except for a few main characters, they remain vague outlines for the most part. We know they're present, but don't really get a clear picture of them.At any rate, if you're a Stephenson fan, "Zodiac" is well worth a read. Even compared to his later works, it shouldn't disappoint. On the other hand, if you're new to Stephenson, "Zodiac" is as good a place to start as any. Although it's not the experience that "Snow Crash" and "Cryptonomicon" are, it's also more accessible and not nearly as imposing as "Cryptonomicon" and "The Baroque Cycle." I recommend it.
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"Can i join? I turn into a boar when im mad." Says a brown shecat with white stripes on her cheeks." Im also looking for a faithful and kind mate. He has to transform too though."
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