Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zodiac” as Want to Read:
Zodiac
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Zodiac

by
3.7  ·  Rating details ·  15,136 Ratings  ·  588 Reviews
Sangaman Taylor is Boston's modern-day Paul Revere, spreading the word from a 40-horsepower Zodiac raft. Embarrassing powerful corporations in highly telegenic ways is the perfect method of making enemies, and Taylor has a collection that would do any rabble-rouser proud.
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published April 30th 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Zodiac, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Zodiac

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Kemper
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
...more
Mara
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 waterw
...more
Brad
Sep 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intrigue, ecological
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
...more
Duffy Pratt
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
YouKneeK
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
...more
Abram Dorrough
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
...more
Mike
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
...more
Robert
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
...more
Steve
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sarah Anne
Omg, I need more! Is there a sequel? Who knew an eco thriller could be so absolutely amazing!
Hank
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
...more
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
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
...more
Max Nemtsov
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«Зодиак», вы удивитесь, — чтение, близкое к идеальному. Главный герой, он же рассказчик — человек знающий, что делает и что делать (мы уже давно для себя поняли, что профессионалы за работой в книгах — это лучше, чем распиздяи за бездельем; особенно если автор знает, о чем говорит; у Пинчона это освежало, здесь — тоже приятно). Мало того — он лихой балагур и отличный рассказчик (опять необходимый дисклеймер: я не знаю, что там в русском переводе творится). А главное, что помимо сюжета — вполне т ...more
Eric
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
...more
Brett
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gruia
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.
Ben 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
...more
Bryan 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
...more
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
...more
Gendou
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kerry
Holy Moly, a Stephenson book with a satisfactory ending! Well knock me over with a feather!

Seriously, though: this is more about the environment, and activism, than technology (speaking in the context of this book as a Neal Stephenson novel.) So it's a little bit less appealing. Though still sciencey, and also really gross and completely terrifying. We are all going to die of cancer or something else even more horrible. I'm glad I don't live in Boston.

Really seriously, though: Zodiac is about a
...more
S
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
...more
Jennifer Seyfried
This is billed as an eco-thriller and that is an apt description. There is science-y stuff here, but it is alternated with car chases, boat chases, explosions, murders, all of your standard suspense thriller building blocks. I would say it was easily 60/40 or better in favor of action over science, and I might have given it more stars for more science. I was just expecting more science, and I don't read a lot of "thrillers." But it's an excellent way to sneak in some science and hopefully get pe ...more
Damien Sulla-Menashe
I really enjoy reading Stephenson because of how he writes exciting stories with lots of nerdy technobabble. This book, as one of his earlier novels, lacks some of the polish and plausibility of many of his later ones but is still a fun quick read. Zodiac seems almost autobiographical with his focus on the city of Boston's toxic legacy, following a character Sangamon Taylor who is just out of BU like NS was at the time. ST acts as a nuisance to big corporate polluters until he discovers a web of ...more
Neal
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little worried this would feel dated, but luckily it was pretty much set in the present of when it was written and felt more like a period piece for late '80s eco-terrorism. Not the best Stephenson, but all the elements are there, tons of science, complicated plots with interesting twists and convergences. It just jumped around a bit too quickly. A fight might be over before you even realized it had started. It was hard to gauge character feelings and motivations.
Richard Buro

The short version first . . .

My love of reading was clear to my parents and, eventually, to me as a youngster. Of course, I loved the comic books – graphical serials, in more common parlance – but I learned to love reading quite early on. My parents read to me all the time before I went to “formal school” to learn how to read, along with math, and writing, traditional 3 R’s and all that. The printed page though was always something with an almost mystical quality. I learned that it could transf
...more
HeyT
I read this as part of a bookclub challenge but I am so glad I picked it up. I wasn't sure what to expect from a self-proclaimed eco-thriller but this was a ride from start to finish. I found ST to be a delightful narrator despite his tendency to be an asshole and really felt like I wanted him to win. I liked that he wasn't the perfect detective figuring it all out on his own. I liked that he was forced to work with his allies and that the solution wasn't just magically there.
Gaufre
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Not sure where the story is going.
Jeremy
Before Stephenson got into the habit of fashioning entire techno-historical realities to fool around in, he wrote this odd little eco-thriller. It's about environmental activism before the green boom in the late 90's and early 2000's, when environmentally concerned types were usually just one or two ideological steps away from being misanthropic survivalists, obsessive self-taught chemical engineers, or wanted fugitives, and were hardly seen as people with a broad interest in constructive human ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SciFi and Fantasy...: Zodiac - Final Thoughts **Spoilers** 3 19 May 07, 2015 06:26PM  
  • Heavy Weather
  • All Tomorrow's Parties (Bridge, #3)
  • Wetware (Ware #2)
  • Roadmarks
  • The Eternal Prison (Avery Cates, #3)
  • Headcrash
  • Glasshouse
  • Antarctica
  • Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology #1)
545
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.
More about Neal Stephenson...
“If you've put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe - to see you, and to give a fuck - you've already blown it.” 16 likes
“I had to ride slow because I was taking my guerrilla route, the one I follow when I assume that everyone in a car is out to get me. My nighttime attitude is, anyone can run you down and get away with it. Why give some drunk the chance to plaster me against a car? That's why I don't even own a bike light, or one of those godawful reflective suits. Because if you've put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe--to see you, and to give a fuck--you've already blown it... We had a nice ride through the darkness. On those bikes we were weak and vulnerable, but invisible, elusive, aware of everything within a two-block radius.” 6 likes
More quotes…