Zodiac

( 50 )

Overview

Sangamon Taylor's 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 ...
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Zodiac

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Overview

Sangamon Taylor's 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 roomate, 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. As he navigates this ecological thriller with hardboiled wit and the biggest outboard motor he can get his hands on, Taylor reveals himself as one of the last of the white-hatted good guys in a very toxic world.

Sangamon Taylor is spreading the word about corporations piping toxic wastes into the water from his 40-horsepower Zodiac raft. Now, he's wanted by the FBI, the Mafia, and a group of Satan-worshipping drug dealers--the least of his problems. Because somewhere out there is an unhinged genetic engineer and a lab concocted bacterium that could destroy all ocean life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802143150
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/10/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 221,067
  • Product dimensions: 12.90 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Neal  Stephenson
Neal Stephenson
A decade after novelist William Gibson coined the term “virtual reality,” Neal Stephenson burst onto the science fiction scene with Snow Crash, his own manic take on the interface between man and machine. More recently, the cyberpunk visionary has turned his sights away from the future of technology, and toward the question of how and why it arose the way it did.

Biography

In Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash, human beings can immerse themselves in a computer-generated universe, and computer viruses can infect human bodies. This blurring of the boundaries between silicon and flesh seems characteristic of Stephenson, a writer whose interests in technology and engineering are inseparable from his skills as a storyteller.

Here is a novelist who talks about the "data management problem" of writing a historical novel, and who apologizes for not responding to fan mail by explaining that he has an "irremediable numerical imbalance between outgoing and incoming bandwidth."

Indeed, Stephenson seems to have a computer metaphor for almost every aspect of the writing life, even when he's not using a computer to write. He wrote the manuscript for Quicksilver in longhand, using a fountain pen. With this slower method of putting words to paper, he explained in an interview with Tech Central Station, "It's like when you're writing, there's a kind of buffer in your head where the next sentence sits while you're outputting the last one."

"Paper," Stephenson adds, is "a really good technology."

As the author of Snow Crash, Stephenson became a cult hero to cyberpunk fans and an inspiration to Silicon Valley start-ups. His Metaverse was the Internet as cutting-edge carnival, a freewheeling digital universe where a pizza-delivery driver could become a samurai warrior. "This is cyberpunk as it ought to be, and almost never is," wrote David Barrett in New Scientist.

Stephenson followed Snow Crash with The Diamond Age, which Publishers Weekly described as "simultaneously SF, fantasy and a masterful political thriller." Stephenson then broke out of the science fiction genre with Cryptonomicon, a 928-page doorstop of a book that drew comparisons to Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. Cryptonomicon interweaves two cryptography-themed plots, one set in the 1990s and the other during World War II. "What cyberculture needs right now is not another science-fiction novel but its first great historical novel, and Cryptonomicon is it: an intimate genealogical portrait of the 20th century's computer geeks, great and small, and of the technosocial landscape they have more and less knowingly shaped," wrote Julian Dibbell in The Village Voice.

Hefty though it is, Cryptonomicon is a quick read compared to Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which begins with Quicksilver and continues in two more volumes, The Confusion and The System of the World.

In Quicksilver, a historical novel set in the 17th century, Stephenson explores many of the roots of modern science, mixing meditations on calculus, chemistry and cryptography with a cast of oddball characters (and many of the real-life historical figures, including Isaac Newton, turn out to be very odd indeed).

"At first it feels like Stephenson is flaunting how much time he spent at the library, but the lure of the next wisecracking history lesson becomes the most compelling reason to keep going," wrote Slate reviewer Paul Boutin.

So how did Stephenson manage all that historical data?

"I started with a bunch of notebooks, just composition books, in which I would write notes down in chronological order as I read a particular book, or what have you," he explained in an interview on his publisher's Web site.

"Those are always there, and I can go back to them and look stuff up even when it's otherwise lost. Then, I've got timelines and timetables showing what happens when in the story. I've spent a while monkeying around with three ring binders, in which I glue pages here and there trying to figure out how to sequence things. It's a big mess. It's a big pile of stationery. Many trips to the office supply store, and many failed attempts. But in the end, as long as you can keep it in your head, that's the easiest way to manage something like this. You can move things around inside your head more easily than you can shuffle papers or cross things out on a page and rewrite them."

The three-pound processor inside the author's head, as it turns out, is a really good technology.

Good To Know

Stephenson comes from a family of scientists: His father is a professor of electrical engineering, and his mother worked in a biochemistry lab. Both his grandfathers were science professors. Stephenson himself majored in geography at Boston University, because the geography department "had the coolest computers."

Stephenson co-wrote two political thrillers, Interface and The Cobweb, under the pseudonym Stephen Bury with his uncle George Jewsbury (whose own nom de plume is J. Frederick George). "The whole idea was that 'Stephen Bury' would be a successful thriller writer and subsidize my pathetic career under the name Neal Stephenson," he told Locus magazine. "It ended up going the other way. I would guess most of the people who have bought the Stephen Bury books have done so because they know I've written them. It just goes to show there's no point in trying to plan your career."

In the Beginning... Was the Command Line, Stephenson's book-length essay on computer operating systems, complains that graphical user interfaces distort the user's understanding of computer operations. On his current Web site, Stephenson dubs the essay "badly obsolete" and notes: "For the last couple of years I have been a Mac OX user almost exclusively."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Bury (co-author pseudonym, with J. Frederick George)
    2. Hometown:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 31, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Meade, Maryland
    1. Education:
      B.A., Boston University, 1981
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(34)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Solid Book, a Timely Topic, a So-So Delivery

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2001

    Zodiac Stephenson's take on Haz Waste

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Good read

    One of his more focused stories.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Stephenson at his best!

    Stephenson at his best!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Goldenfme

    "Oh...I havent been here before. I am not thr Goldenflame you speak of."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Scorpionear

    Thank you pads there

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    ARIESKIT IS SERGENT LIANNE PARKINGSONNER'S KITTEN

    "I am here for safe keeping!"

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    Please join SwiftClan at "White Wings" all results

    Sorry for tresspassing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

    Rawr

    Whitemorning looks around.
    ((Heya! Peeps! Ignore da mousebwain!))

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Moonleaf

    Sighs

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    ZODIAC MEETING GROUNDS

    ~finnstar

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Catchfeather

    May i join? Ps....i wont be on for a long time so seeya but i will cum bak

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Hmm

    Got to go, *smiles and runs off*
    Skullstar

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Painfeather

    "Third result.."

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    This is AriesStar. my nook died and i couldnt find my charger so

    This is AriesStar. my nook died and i couldnt find my charger so i am using a different account. RabbitTwins your in charge until then and leopaw I would like to make you a full warrior. By the powers of Starclan Leopaw you will now be known as LeoHeart. Serve our clan well.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Smoke to leosun

    Uh......are you an idiot the prophecy is talking about you!!?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Leosun

    She lashes her tail irtitated.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Geminirabbit

    GEMINI RABBITS RULE!!! FRUITS BASKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!! MOMIJIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!! YEEEAAAUUUHH!! No, I don't want to join. MYSTERY CAT?! OMG! YOU'RE AT...AT...NUMMY!!

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    My den is leo

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2014

    Bree

    -pads in-

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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