Believe it or not, some readers find Zodiac even more fun than Neal Stephenson's defining 1990s cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. Zodiac is set in Boston, and hero Sangamon Taylor (S. T.) ironically describes his hilarious exploits in the first person. S. T. is a modern superhero, a self-proclaimed Toxic Spiderman. With stealth, spunk, and the backing of GEE (a non-profit environmental group) as his weapons, S. T. chases down the bad guys with James Bond-like Zen.
Cruising Boston Harbor with lab tests and scuba gear, S. T. rides in with the ecosystem cavalry on his 40-horsepower Zodiac raft. His job of tracking down poisonous runoff and embarrassing the powerful corporations who caused them becomes more sticky than usual; run-ins with a gang of satanic rock fans, a deranged geneticist, and a mysterious PCB contamination that may or may not be man-made--plus a falling-out with his competent ("I adore stress") girlfriend--all complicate his mission.
Stephenson/S. T.'s irreverent, facetious, esprit-filled voice make this near-future tale a joy to read.
Stephenson's (The Big U) improbable hero is Sangamon Taylor, a high-tech jack-of-all-trades who inhales nitrous oxide for kicks and scouts environmental hazards for GEE, the Group of Environmental Extremists. Taylor particularly wants to nab the polluters of Boston Harbor, whose toxic sludge he monitors by zipping from illegal pipeline to illegal pipeline in his inflatable Zodiac raft. His work is slow-going and boring until the concentration of deadly PCBs rises inexplicably and then mysteriously drops to nothing. And then the "eco-thriller" begins: the bad guys are everywhere as Taylor ferrets out the connections between his bizarre landlord, a nerdy friend from college who's at work on a top-secret genetic-engineering project for a high-tech company, an industrialist-turned-Presidential-candidate and the crazed fans of Poyzen Boyzen, a heavy-metal band. In creating this all-too-conceivable story of industry and science running amok, Stephenson puts his technological knowledge elegantly to use, but never lets gadgets and gizmos take over the story. The characters are entertaining, if broadly drawn, and the rip-roaring conclusion will make a dandy denouement in the movie rendition. Film rights to Warner Brothers.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Strong central plotline, good, if somewhat stereotypical characters and decent pace. Not as much of a thinking book as Anathem, Reamde, or the quicksilver collection, but enjoyable... Read morePublished 2 months ago by P. Golds
This is actually my favorite Stephenson book. As a writer, his curse is usually that he lets the plot go spiraling wildly out of control. Read morePublished on April 19 2004 by Dave Stagner
This book was utterly captivating. In addition to excellent character and plot development, Stephenson does an amazing job relating to people who have lived in Boston and capturing... Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by "sublmnl40"
Set in Boston this thriller centres on the exploits of the oddly monikered Sangamon Taylor aka The Toxic Spiderman. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2003 by Matthew Wharton
I was a little hesitant to read this book, afraid I'd have ecological evangelism pushed down my throat, but it wasn't like that at all. Read morePublished on May 28 2003 by owookiee
I am a big Stephenson fan after having read Diamond Age, Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, but I was a bit hesitant to pick up Zodiac after I heard some mediocre reviews by other... Read morePublished on April 29 2003 by mhnstr
Interesting discussion of the problems inherent in the US environmental policies and the dangers of technology when it comes to the environment. Read morePublished on Dec 17 2002 by "adamhir"
Read this a year or so ago. Great fun to read but
as I recall there were some slow spots within it
that kept me from giving it 5 stars. Read more