Zodiac, my second Neal Stephenson, didn’t really deliver the pure enjoyment that I received from the other Stephenson book I recently finished, Snow Crash. However, if I hadn’t just finished that one, and held the next Stephenson book I read to such a high standard, I probably would have rated Zodiac higher.
Set sometime in the late 80s/early 90s in Boston, Zodiac is about an “eco-terrorist” named Sangmon Taylor (S.T. for short). S.T. works for a company called GEE, discovering which huge companies are polluting the environment (specifically, the Boston Harbor) and how to stop them. S.T. employs methods ranging from contacting the press, fighting his way past secretaries to the big bosses, all the way to plugging up pipes and setting the occasional bomb.
Along with some rather sketchy friends, S.T. goes after a company called Basco that has created some sort of incredibly toxic new pollution. He gets in a lot of trouble along the way, but keeps a good outlook and fearless attitude. It’s a funny, fast book and S.T. is a great main character. The pollution stuff hits uncomfortably close to home, and makes you think that even 30-40 years later, we haven’t made the progress we should have to correct corporate pollution.
A good read, overall, and I’ll try to lower my standards just a bit so I can enjoy my next Stephenson novel a bit more (Cryptonomicon has been sitting on my shelves for a while…)