With the television series done, author Christa Faust has penned the first of a trilogy of Fringe novels that are considered canon. The Zodiac Paradox is the frist of the three novels that chronicles the activities in the early days before the television series began.
The novel opens with a view of a killer named Allan Mather, described as one who likes to kill. He stalks young couples that are parked at notorious make-out places and kills them. He is very methodical in how he goes about his business, planning everything to the letter and journaling his activities and his future plans in a notebook. He is also in Fringe’s alternate universe.
Meanwhile, Walter Bishop and William Bell, fresh with their degrees from MIT, are performing an experiment near Reiden Lake – on themselves. They are experimenting with a special blend of LSD that they designed to create a telepathic link between them, and it works, with some unfortunate side effects. Their experiment opens a gateway that allows Allan to escape arrest in the alternate universe and enter our universe with his killer instinct intact and with some added powers as well.
Following a brief encounter with Walter and Bell, Allan heads to San Francisco to become the Zodiac Killer. Felling their responsibility, Walter and Bell follow to try to put things right. While in San Francisco, Walter and Bell meet up with Bell’s friend and future associate Nina Sharp, and together the three of them chase, and are chased through the streets and alley ways assisted by a group of characters that can only be describes as being free spirits (hippies). While the trio pursue the Zodiac, they are in turn being sought after by the FBI who would love nothing better than to get the Zodiac to join them because one of the Zodiac’s weapons is an inner nuclear force that is unleashed when he kills and becomes excited. Zodiac is hard to get close to because his nuclear force tends to leave gamma radiation behind.
In reality, the Zodiac (who was never caught) would announce his plans to authorities. In the novel, he does this to hatch a plan to kill Walter, Bell, and Nina. They are assisted by an FBI agent names Iverson who has ambitions to start the Fringe Division in the FBI, that branch of the agency that Fringe fans would be very familiar with.
This is an origin story that foreshadows the origins of not only the Fringe Division, but also the very early plans of the development and use of Cortexaphan, ties to the Alternate Universe, and the early role (very briefly) of the Observers in Fringe.
Told in the second person, Faust takes the reader on a ride through the hippie subculture of San Francisco. Being from San Francisco myself, I can say that she has done her research on the City, and the late 1960’s to early 1970’s culture very well. Her writing style also shows that when is well versed in the vernacular of the time. I think that Fans of Fringe will appreciate this story. I am not sure that I would tag this as a pure science fiction story, but rather a noir-ish adventure story with elements of science fiction, still not a bad read.
Well, there it is