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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  18,101 ratings  ·  767 reviews
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 reservat ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 308 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Spectra (first published May 1988)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,101 ratings  ·  767 reviews

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Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book revolves around toxic waste being illegally dumped into Boston Harbor. While I was reading it, the water in the fish tank went mysteriously cloudy overnight despite being recently cleaned and our two goldfish who were like ten years old went belly up. So that was kind of creepy.

The first Neal Stephenson book I read was Cryptonomicon and I jumped from there right into The Baroque Cycle and then the brain-busting brilliant behemoth that was Anathem. I loved them all, but saw frequent com
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mara by: Kemper
Sangamon Taylor just might be the love of my life (and, as far as I'm concerned, the fact that he's an emotionally unavailable, fictional character is kind of a win-win). By my metrics of greatness, billing ST (that's what all the cool kids call him) as the “Granola James Bond” undersells him by a long shot.

Employed as a “professional asshole” (his words) by GEE, an environmental activist group in Boston, ST is a chemist by training, a fan of avoiding Boston traffic by taking to its
Sep 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecological, intrigue
If not for the voice of Sangamon Taylor, Neal Stephenson's Zodiac would have been a relatively okay eco-thriller, but the book isn't just the voice of Sangamon Taylor, it IS Sangamon Taylor, and once again Stephenson's ability to create compelling leading men (think Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash) makes one of his books superior to the pulp it was inspired by.

Sangamon Taylor is Boston Harbor's very own Toxic Avenger. Working for GEE -- a thinly veiled, fictional Greenpeace -- ST spends his days
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, neal-s, audio, sci-fic
Early Neal Stephenson still worth reading for the completist. It's not postcyberpunk, it's not a hacker thriller, and it's not an historical drama about scientists either.

Zodiac is more based in the real world, about a hip environmentalist fighting corporate toxic waste in the mean streets (and seas) of Boston. Politically, it's very interesting to note that this is pretty much a leftist theme without any libertarian leanings. The main Stephensonism, however, is more about having a cool intelle
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a thriller, a detective story with science--lots of chemistry in fact--but it isn't quite a "science fiction" novel. Neal Stephenson has created a memorable main character, Sangamon Taylor, a chemist and ecology activist. The emphasis is on the activist. He lives in Boston, and gets around mostly on his zodiac, a small, fast boat. He is always on the lookout for polluting waste products being dumped by factories into the waterways of Boston.

Of course, he is not on the good side of
Duffy Pratt
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I'm not sure what I would have thought about this book if it had been by another author, or an author I didn't already know. It's a fun book, and decent in its own right. Have you ever seen pictures of people you knew when they were babies, and tried to scope out the resemblance to their adult appearance. That's sort of what I found myself doing in this book. There are lots of hints and suggestions of the kind of writer Stephenson would become. But standing on its own, this book seems just as mu ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinarily fun book - Stephenson meshes hardboiled crime with the pacing of a thriller, and he populates the book with his typical nerdy, witty humor. It's not so much a sci-fi book as it is a thriller with a lot of hard science behind it. It is so delightful reading a Stephenson book narrated in the first person!

Zodiac was WAY ahead of its time upon publication in 1988. Computers, gadgets, pollutants and the corporations (legally inculpable for complex reasons) that dump them everywhere
Timothy Urges
Nobody gives a shit about their sins anymore. You think those corporate execs worry about sin?

Environmental catastrophe is a constant, and the cure for catastrophe can easily become another culprit.
Zodiac is the first book I’ve read by Neal Stephenson, an author I see mentioned fairly often, often with mixed reviews. My own reaction to this particular book is a little mixed.

The title, Zodiac, refers to a type of motorized raft the characters used. The story is set in Boston and is told from the first-person perspective of a character who tries to catch, publicize, and prevent corporations from dumping toxic chemicals into the Boston Harbor. Naturally the big, powerful corporation people a
A quirky scientist/"Toxic James Bond" for the environmental group "G International" cruises Boston harbor in his Zodiac boat, looking for chemical hot spots. When he finds on that mysteriously disappears again, he is on a search that puts his career in danger, and then puts his life in danger.
More science-based adventure thriller than science fiction, it is still a fun little romp through the Hub of the Universe and my old stomping-ground.

[Fulfills several possibilities on my St. Mary's County L
The Captain
Jun 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandon-ship
Ahoy there me mateys! This review has a twist. The First Mate and I both read this one (sort of)! We discussed the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I ordered asked him to write a review. So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew. Please note that I write like I talk and the First Mate writes like he thinks. Hope you enjoy!

From the First Mate:

The first time I read Zodiac was twenty years ago. Amazon tells me that I purchased it in May 2000, several months after I’d prev
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, writers-i-love
I haven't had this much fun since Metzger's Dog. I wonder if Chinese Gordon and Sangamon Taylor are related somehow. ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Zodiac is described as an eco-thriller, which about sums it up, actually! It certainly is a thriller - I read all 290 or so pages in one (long) night, gripped from the outset. The hero of the story is a chemist working for GEE, a direct action environmental organisation, in its Boston branch. He's out to get the companies dumping toxic waste into the harbour and the rivers and canals that feed into it. He has three company logos on the bows of his inflatable raft with its over-size outboard moto ...more
Andreea Daia
Dear S.T. -

I just finished reading your Zodiac adventures and how I loved them. At first I was a bit confused since I was expecting a science-fiction novel. I know, I know, you did start your memoirs clearly stating that this is an eco-thriller, but I was misled by the GoodReads shelving. Have you seen it? Oof! "Science Fiction," "Horror," even "Fantasy." Although "Cyberpunk" has be the best one given that your colleagues refuse to work in an office with a computer and you use yours only for pr
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An early variant of Stephenson's 'Snow Crash' writing style. More down-to-earth plot, set in the present rather than the near-future, but just as much fun. It definitely feels rougher and less polished than either Snow Crash or The Diamond Age, but it's great fun. And the description of trying to cross the street in Boston is worth the purchase price.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Zodiac by Neal Stephenson is an environmental thriller. Sangamon Taylor works for an environmental activist group GEE and investigates toxic waste being dumped into Boston Harbour. A fast paced thriller which I enjoyed very much. S.T. is a fun modern day superhero, witty and smart. A very entertaining book.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Omg, I need more! Is there a sequel? Who knew an eco thriller could be so absolutely amazing!
This is a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets 1980's thriller story. I couldn't help comparing Sangamon Taylor to Hunter S. Thompson, they both used whatever substance was at hand to fuel the madness. Sangamon Taylor's madness was fighting uncaring, corporate polluters and who wouldn't want to cheer for that. His methods and plans were equally ridiculous, inspired and undecypherable.

The story itself is loosely held together and mostly a vehicle for Sangamon's character who, although very ent
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Early Neal Stephenson. The reason to read this book is the voice of the protagonist. Sangamon Taylor is a chemist and an environmental activist. I've read he is based around a person Stephenson knew in college; the rich characterization seems very authentic to me.

This is also an interesting time period for that sort of person; the book came out in 1988. This is a time at which the dinosaur chemical companies were moving toward greener chemistries and were stuck with numerous lawsuits and other a
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am a sucker for punishment.
I just keep trying out NS’s books because I WANT to like them as much as everyone else. I really need to stop the insanity and just never pick up another.

Overall review for this one: meh
ST works for a Greenpeace-like organization. His job involves catching and stopping companies from dumping toxins into the Boston harbour. This whole book is about that. Next...
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Plastic is essentially frozen gasoline.

I'm lacking a grounded center presently. Neal Stephenson is very topical right now. Returning home, I was looking for something outside of my own normal. That clumsy phrase is rather accurate currently: outside of my normal. Zodiac is environmental noir; a gumshoe--a professional asshole--works for a Greenpeace type organization and his purpose is the eradication of illegal dumping of toxic waste.

The true hero of the book is Boston Harbor. This is what dre
Kara Babcock
Every once in a while when I open a box from Subterranean Press, I discover a surprise tucked inside. Such was the case with Zodiac; I received a free surplus ARC of their special edition of this novel. I seldom refuse free books, and of course, it’s Neal Stephenson. So off we go.

Even when attached to a name such as Stephenson’s, a novel that bills itself as an “eco-thriller” does not earn eager anticipation from me. My opinion of thrillers is low in general, and when combined with ecological mo
This early Stephenson book (originally published in 1988) was an action-packed "eco-thriller." Sanjamon Taylor, aka ST, works for GEE, an environmental activist group. He's the expert on toxic waste that's contaminating Boston Harbor and other places. He knows how to track down polluters and how to out them in dynamic fashion. But something squirrelly is going on that he just can't figure out, until he does after finding himself the target of hitmen. There's a real bad big corporation that wants ...more
Bryan S. Glosemeyer
Well, I'm an unabashed Neal Stephenson fan, there's no getting around that. And for anyone else who's a big fan I'd definitely recommend the book, if nothing else to see the basics of his style in a still very formative period.

The is the earliest book of his that I've read. And since the last book I read by him was his most recent REAMDE, it was even more of an obvious chance to observe how his style has developed.

but yada yada yada.... right?

So ok, let's get past the fandom for a moment.

This is
Matthew Ciarvella
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Although this is one of Stephenson's earliest works, it remains an excellent and enjoyable book and if I say it's one of his best, it's only to demonstrate the strength of this work as opposed to criticizing later ones.

All the traits that Stephenson would earn his bones on are present here; the whip-smart discussions about interesting scientific topics, an incredibly intelligent and skilled protagonist who, despite his smarts, isn't above getting things wrong and making mistakes. True, the Steph
Apr 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, 2 1/2 stars.

If you have never read Neal Stephenson, then you will probably rate this book higher. But having read a good cross section of his other work, it was hard not to be a tiny bit disappointed.
This is not like his other books!

If you can get past that (or are happily ignorant!), and take it for what it is, then this is indeed an entertaining eco-thriller.
Everybody needs to cut loose and have some fun once in a while, right? Even authors.

Character development is somewhat lacking, b
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anti-Corporate Libertarians
Zodiac was a bit muddled at points, with a large, mixed cast of eco-terrorists, corporate drones, scientists, and blue-collar Bostonians dropping in and out of the story, but overall it was a fast, exhilarating thrill-ride -- not too dissimilar from riding an actual zodiac.

It was reminiscent in a way to the cable television show Leverage, and if it were the show, it would have broken up nicely into three episodes -- the Swiss Bastards Job in Blue Kills, New Jersey; the Boner Chemicals Job in Bu
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
I couldn't find what I was looking for on my first visit to the library, so I settled for this because the author had penned one of the other books I was looking for. Glad I picked it up. Written in the first person, this yarn follows the self-proclaimed Toxic Spider-man on his crusade against giant companies who love to pollute the Northeast. A fast read with a sarcastic voice, and some decent science to back it up. Guns, germs and mayhem. ...more
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast paced, humorous and info-dumpy, this is a through and through Neal Stephenson novel. The only reason for its lesser circulation is that the author was still obscure at the time. It merits its place on the shelf of any Stephenson fan, especially if they enjoyed Snow Crash and Reamde.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The main character and narrator of this book is one awesome dude. He's an ecological activist who fights big corporations that pollute the environment with chemical waste. The bad guys are unbelievably bad, which is sometimes a good thing, and other times, not so much. For example, they have a diabolical way of trying to save their own asses, which end up getting them into worse trouble, only after some clever detective work on the protagonist's part. This was cool. But the shoot out with paint ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Correction 3 18 Sep 05, 2019 12:44PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Zodiac - Final Thoughts **Spoilers** 3 23 May 07, 2015 06:26PM  

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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Seveneves, Reamde, Anathem, The System of...
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