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Zodiac | [Neal Stephenson]

Zodiac

Sangamon Taylor's a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt to Scotch. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

©1988 Neal Stephenson; (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

What the Critics Say

"The characters are entertaining, if broadly drawn, and the rip-roaring conclusion will make a dandy denouement in the movie rendition." (Publishers Weekly)
"Stephenson's irreverent, facetious, esprit-filled voice make this near-future tale a joy to read." (Amazon.com review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (308 )
5 star
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3 star
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4.0 (155 )
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Story
4.2 (149 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Edie Snow Boston 04-24-10
    Edie Snow Boston 04-24-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love that dirty water!"

    I love this book, and this audio production is great! Funny and scary and engrossing. One little bitty caveat: a couple words are not pronounced in the true local Boston fashion. For example, 'route' is pronounced to rhyme with 'stout,' rather than sounding like 'root,' the way we say it here. And the town of 'Natick' is pronounced to rhyme with 'static,' rather than as a slant rhyme for 'jaded.' Since I grew up near Natick, this kind of makes me itch every time I hear it. And the townie accents are close, but not perfect. But that's minor. This is a great performance of a great book, and I would love to hear more by Ax Norman. And when I look out my back window at Boston Harbor -hahhhbuh as it sounds here, I wish I could see S.T. in his zode.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Byron Bay, NSW, Australia 03-19-10
    Matt Byron Bay, NSW, Australia 03-19-10 Member Since 2010
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    "A must read for environmentalists"

    I've read most of Neal Stephensons books now after being introduced to "Snow Crash" by a friend. This is one of Neal's earlier books, but if you like his works then this is a definite. The whole book is written first person.. almost a prose. An intelligent, stimulating read (listen) without the pseudo intellectualism we get from many writers these days. I wish I discovered this author a long time ago.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Guilford, CT, United States 03-12-10
    Eric Guilford, CT, United States 03-12-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Intelligent and Gonzo"

    I first encountered Neal Stephenson when I read Snowcrash (highly recommended)and I was impressed. I then read Cryptonomicon (highly recommended) and am a fan for life. Zodiac is an earlier work, slightly less well written but nonetheless very entertaining. Stephenon's science background shows throughout and makes his story all the more engrossing. As is always the case with Stephenson the story is a mixture of clever and intelligent plot with Gonzo elements. He is sometimes a little gross but that's just part of the fun.

    The narrator does a good job and I found him easy to listen to.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Singapore, Singapore 12-09-11
    andrew Singapore, Singapore 12-09-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "very funny, yet gripping."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes. I enjoyed the story; the jokes.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    yes, it did. I found it interesting. I don't have an aversion to chemistry, so i found it interesting and 'educational'; the story itself is interesting and unpredictable.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    any that contains a sarcastic remark by the main character. Hilarious.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    not really.


    Any additional comments?

    i enjoyed the performance of the narrator. Very nicely done. It fit the mold of the main character.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Banora Point, Australia 11-05-12
    Karen Banora Point, Australia 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Intelligent storytelling"

    This story makes you more aware of the dangers we unwittingly face with corporations that do pretty much whatever they like. I only hope we have a chance. Neal Stephenson has delivered again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon wallingford, PA, United States 07-31-11
    sharon wallingford, PA, United States 07-31-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Ok, but only so - so"

    I think this book will make a great movie one day -- and it will probably make alot more sense to me then. But until then, I'm leaving this on my (imaginary) 'why did I buy this book' pile.
    Its not that well written. It took me a good 2 hours (at least) to get 'into' the book. I did learn alot about scientific stuff (specifically chemicals) and how they affect the environment/water. It does have action in it, some suspense, alot of the main character's thoughts.

    I liked the characters. I liked the plot IDEA, but it did not keep me involved (especially at the beginning). On a desert island, it would be an adequate book to read, but I think that there are other books out there that deserve your $$/credits more.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Cibulka Brno, Czech Republic 10-15-13
    Jan Cibulka Brno, Czech Republic 10-15-13 Member Since 2012

    Cussler, Connelly, Clancy I like all with a C ...

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    "Classic"

    Another great piece from Neal Stephenson
    Style very similar to Interface - these early works like Interface are more concise than the contemporary ones, less confusing than these
    very good read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Kunde United Kingdom 05-28-12
    Amazon Kunde United Kingdom 05-28-12 Member Since 2008

    mdoubleu

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    "Dated but still current"
    Any additional comments?

    As pollution of the earth is still an actual issue, this book is current. Fast paced main character is certainly entertaining. Given the tactics and the way people communicate, one can date the book to be less recent (e.g. No cell phones etc) . This does not spoil the fun. Wel read and I do urge you to listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heat-Rae Charlton, MA USA 02-28-12
    Heat-Rae Charlton, MA USA 02-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Really Good, one glaring production flaw"
    If you could sum up Zodiac in three words, what would they be?

    Damn Good Book


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Zodiac?

    There are serveral it was a good mix of Boston Humor, some of which you really have to be from here to get.


    Have you listened to any of Ax Norman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    There is one glaring production flaw. If the manin character is from Boston and the narration is first person I would have expected proper regional pronunciations of words. I don't mean Boson/Mass accents, a few characters use them and the narrator gets them mostly correct. However at one point the story moves to Natick. When the name of this city comes up it JUST HURTS my ears. The name is said as

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Morrison New York City 07-26-12
    J. Morrison New York City 07-26-12
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    "Love the book; worst imaginable reading of it."
    If you could sum up Zodiac in three words, what would they be?

    Toxic Philip Marlowe.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It's hard to like any other character than S.T. in the book as it's told first person. That said, the character is a bit of an a**. But a funny one -- scrappy, too smart for his own good, egotistical, flawed, and almost always right. Or possibly always almost right.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narration for this book was SO BAD I had a hard time listening to it for more than 20 minutes at a time. The narrator. Simply. Did not know. How to use. Punctuation. Very odd inflection patterns that added no meaning whatsoever to the sentences. It baffles me that this guy was actually hired to do this, and has probably done a lot of other books as well. I actually had to rewind a few times to make sure I got the meaning clear, and I have read this book myself at least 5 times. It was so irritating, I actually considered narrating the book myself and making my own personal recording to listen to. It's a real shame, too, because the book is terrific.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really a "moves you" kind of book. More exciting stuff, with good chase scenes (the Zodiac/Cigarette chase through nighttime Boston Harbor is a standout) and more than usual brain candy for what amounts to a noir-styled crime thriller. Also, having lived in Boston and its environs for several years, I enjoyed his detailed knowledge of the location, descriptions of the neighborhoods, and use of the geography to illustrate points or move the story along.


    Any additional comments?

    This is early Neal Stephenson, and it lacks what many fans of his work now seem to expect: a BIG IDEA that the story explains and works through as it progresses. It's true that his best books take unlikely ideas for novels (code-breaking, rational thought processes/logic + quantum manipulation of personal narratives, information propagation, virtual reality, a complex children's book/toy) and turn them into compelling and somehow edifying stories. However, this book feels just as "Stephensonian" to me as his later, more complex works, because it is at its root about someone who knows and understands something that other people don't. This person then acts in what to them is a totally rational way because of that knowledge, but seems crazy to other people. The thing is, what this person knows is usually something very geeky and specific having to do with something scientific in nature or related to how information is transmitted (codes, the internet, global shipping systems, etc.). In other words, this person has special knowledge because he or she has a *different way of knowing* than everybody else. Every Neal Stephenson novel has one or more characters like that at its core. Zodiac is no different.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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