Chris's Reviews > Zodiac

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Mar 12, 2011

really liked it
Read from March 12 to 28, 2011

Another excellent work by Stephenson. I've read most of his other non-Baroque-Cycle fiction at this point, so I'm catching up on his earlier work after seeing his later efforts.

Zodiac was perfect for me as a snark-appreciating chemist. The protagonist who relays the story in first person, Sangamon Taylor, is oft referred to as the "granola James Bond" as he slings chemistry instrumentation, nitrous oxide, and small-boat-prowess like a sidearm. The book delves into the topics du jour the way only Stephenson does: he goes after a few select areas of information and focuses on them, in this case toxins, chemistry, and Boston Harbor, and uses them as the foundation to build the story around. Constantly interesting, funny, rather random (a landlord who trashes his own properties for nigh-psychotic reasons?), the story keeps going at a good pace without too many boring or excessive sidebars. What Stephenson does stray into is always for a funny, interesting, or eventually-pertinent reason.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes the lighter side of Stephenson's style with a dash of the intellectual: this is more Big U than Anathem, but done quite well.

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Reading Progress

03/26/2011 page 263
82.0% ""Sangamon's Principle," I said. "The simpler the molecule, the beter 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.""

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