Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller
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.
|von Neal Stephenson|
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.
An extremely readable, fun book--not Snow Crash, but good.
Like most people, I read Snow Crash first, and loved it. Zodiac isn't nearly as intellectual as Snow Crash, nor does it have nearly the same depth, but it's tons of fun nonetheless. The protagonist, S.T., is wonderfully realistic, especially if you've ever moved within activist circles. I enjoyed the off-handed instruction in toxic monkeywrenching (how to block pipes, etc.) that echoes so well the eco-classic "The Monkeywrench Gang." Stephenson is a brilliant storyteller, and S.T. is a compelling hero. It's not the most intellectual of books, but great for vicarious revenge against polluting corporations.
My favourite NS
OK, _Snow Crash_ caught my attention. But it suffered (imho) from grandiosity -- the need for a Great Cosmic Plot Resolution. DA was even more interesting but has some of the same disease -- the themes get so big they are unwieldy. Same goes for the voudun stuff in Gibson, if you ask me.
_Zodiac_ is my pick of NS's work. I buy used copies and give them away to people. It's better than his later works because he's on his own turf, writing more tightly and realistically about stuff he really knows. The manuscript glitters with one-liners; I sometimes slowed down and read whole sections out loud to myself to get the full enjoyment out of them.
Sangamon Taylor, ego and all, has become one of the most memorable characters of my long SF-guzzling career. I recommend this book to sci fi and non-sci-fi readers alike. I still don't believe you can punch a hole in a zode with a wired tazer, but I love the book anyway :-)
And yes, it's a cautionary tale. It has a moral message. So has Dickens, most of Shakespeare, and most of Star Trek for that matter. There's nothing wrong with preaching if it's done with wit, style, and real passion. I think NS pulls it off. If I didn't dread sequels so much, I'd love to see a volume of the prior, or continuing, adventures of ST.
READ IT!! READ IT NOW!!!
Wow. What can I say about this book other than I loved every moment of it?
Neil S. wrote a truly rocking and rolling book, a wild ride of fun, biology, ecology and another protagonist that you just wish you could be.
Zodiac simply starts as a man tries to do what is right, in his own brash and annoying way. And then, everything goes wrong. The main character in this novel seems to be a direct ancestor to "Hero Protagonist" in Snowcrash, in both voice, style, and attitude.
I adored this book. Not only is it a fun read, but it's a good social commentary on today's business, and what it is doing to the enviroment.
Go read this book.
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