U.S. version cover shot.
|Cover artist||Bruce Jensen|
|Publisher||Atlantic Monthly Press|
|Publication date||May 1988|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Pages||283 pp (first edition, paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-87113-181-1 (first edition, paperback)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 19|
|LC Classification||PS3569.T3868 Z39 1988|
|Preceded by||The Big U|
|Followed by||Snow Crash|
Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller (1988) is Neal Stephenson's second novel, which tells the story of an environmentalist, Sangamon Taylor, uncovering a conspiracy involving industrialist polluters in Boston Harbor. The "Zodiac" of the title refers to the brand of inflatable motor boats the hero uses to get around the city efficiently. His opponents attempt to frame him as an ecoterrorist.
The protagonist is inspired by environmental chemist Marco Kaltofen. Taylor is a recreational user of nitrous oxide, justifying his choice of drug by the eponymous Sangamon's Principle: "the simpler the molecule, the better the drug".
In the novel, Taylor is a chemist working for GEE, a fictional environmental activism group which stages both protests and direct actions plugging toxic waste pipes. Taylor becomes involved with Bosco Industries, a fictional corporation which produced Agent Orange and is a major supplier of organic chlorine compounds. Bosco experiments with genetic engineering to develop chemical producing microbes, driving Taylor's efforts to expose their crimes and preserve Boston Harbor.
A number of the later events of the novel take place on Boston Harbor's Spectacle Island which at the time of publication was almost entirely composed of garbage. In the story it is frequented by drugged-out and reputedly Satanic groupies of the "two-umlaut" heavy metal music band, Pöyzen Böyzen, who are too intoxicated with angel dust to realize they are poisoning themselves with the toxic waste that was dumped there.
Release details 
- 1988, USA, Atlantic Monthly Press (ISBN 0-87113-181-1), Pub date ? May 1988, paperback (First edition)
- 1988, UK, Bloomsbury (ISBN 0-7475-0262-5), Pub date ? October 1988, paperback
- 1995, USA, Spectra Books (ISBN 0-553-57386-1), Pub date ? June 1995, paperback
- 1997, USA, Signet Books (ISBN 0-451-45588-6), Pub date 29 May 1997, paperback
- 1997, UK, Penguin Books (ISBN 0-14-027038-8), Pub date 7 August 1997, paperback
- 2001, UK, Arrow Books (ISBN 0-09-941552-6), Pub date 24 May 2001, paperback
- 2002, France, Denoël (ISBN 2-207-25264-7), Pub date 4 September 2002, paperback
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Zodiac|
- "Ecology sleuth is local, global", Boston Globe, July 8th 2007 "Tom Carpenter, nuclear oversight program director with the Government Accountability Project, said that soon after he and Kaltofen visited the towns, authorities agreed to begin evacuating residents. Carpenter hired Kaltofen after reading a 1988 novel, "Zodiac," an eco-thriller about a guerrilla-style environmental activist trying to stop the pollution of Boston Harbor. The author, Neal Stephenson, a neighbor of Carpenter's, attended Boston University with Kaltofen and dedicated the book to him. Kaltofen brushed the book off as a work of fiction, but Carpenter said he sees many similarities between the fictional protagonist and Kaltofen, from his sense of humor to his creativity. "He comes up with smart options that sometimes reveal inadequacies in government systems," said Carpenter."
- "Marco Kaltofen Biography". 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2011-02-06. Unknown parameter
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