Dear Reader: a letter from Sam Wilson
Zodiac is a crime novel set in a version of America that’s divided by astrological signs rather than race or religion, where the date and time of your birth determine your place in society. It’s not hard-and-fast. There’s no evil central government mandating it, or walled-off districts for each sign.
This dystopia is a bit subtler. The segregation is ingrained, which makes it much harder to resist. If you grew up as a Taurus, with mainly Taurus friends, and were fed Taurus-centric entertainment as a kid, and if other Tauruses make you feel comfortable because they see you as one of their own while everyone else treats you with distrust… well, how do you fight that? How do you fight identity?
I live in South Africa, where questions about race, class, and culture are inescapable. When I had the idea for Zodiac, it seemed so obvious that I was sure someone had already written it. After all, astrology is a way to divide people that most people understand, but which doesn’t have the emotional baggage of race or religion. It’s not quite prejudice (although I know people who have refused to date people, even hire people, based on their sign). It was something I could play around with, and use to explore discrimination and bias in a way that didn’t set off rote responses. And, of course, it let me invent a new world. How would the society work? What kind of history led to this? How would people ensure that their kids were born in the right sign? What assumptions would affect a criminal investigation? And what would make someone kill?
That’s the big question for Detective Jerome Burton. When the chief of police is murdered and the only witness is kidnapped, Burton is paired with astrological profiler Lindi Childs to unravel the case. Lindi is a liberal Aquarius and Burton is a conservative Taurus. Lindi looks to the stars for answers, while Burton is down-to-Earth. They’re incompatible, but they need to work together, because everything on heaven and Earth is pointing to a ruthless killer executing a celestial plan.
Time is running out. The signs are at each other’s throats. And with every new death, the city gets closer to the edge…