Three months later and the Fringe universe is still thriving. Fans are writing fanfiction and creating art, and the first official tie-in novel, The Zodiac Paradox, comes out this month. In The Zodiac Paradox, Christa Faust transports the reader to September 1974, six years after William Bell and Walter Bishop perform an experiment at Reiden Lake which briefly opens a gate to an alternate universe, and allows an unknown man to enter their world. That man becomes the Zodiac killer terrorizing San Francisco in the early '70s, and it is not until a trip to the Zodiac's hunting ground that Bell and Walter finally learn the repercussions of their experiment. The young scientists seek the help of Nina Sharp to apprehend the Zodiac and return him to his universe, but the killer is just as smart and strong as he is dangerous. Outwitting him is no easy feat.
The Zodiac Paradox is a fast paced cat and mouse hunt that keeps you wondering who will have the upper hand next and how far the scientists will go to stop one man. For Walter, the guilt immediately burdens him once he learns the killer's victims would still be alive if he had not tried to advance science for his own interests. He becomes fiercely motivated to rectify his actions but in doing so, he must answer the difficult question, how many more lives should he be put in peril? Does this sound familiar? It should because it is a theme explored in depth on the TV show and Faust handles the moral journey with the care and respect fans expect in a precursor to the show. She guides the reader through Walter's turmoil as an expert would lead a novice through a tangled and dark forest, setting the stage for the ultimate inner war Walter will incite in 1985 when he takes Peter from the alternate universe. Faust invites fans to better understand the weight Walter carries and accept his actions. Her painstaking effort to explore the moral questions haunting him will hopefully lessen the pain still reverberating in the hearts of many fans following the sacrifice in the series finale. It did for me. After the show concluded, grief still outweighed acceptance over the sacrifice, however The Zodiac Paradox has tipped the scale in the opposite direction, proving that Walter's end was a result of a journey that began long before he crossed over to the other universe in 1985.
The central themes seen in Fringe resurge in The Zodiac Paradox, but never once does the story feel trite. Well known characters are presented in a new yet familiar manner, which will be a delight for fans who have always desired to learn more about the show's secondary characters such as Nina Sharp. Nina's high level position in the almighty company, Massive Dynamic, immediately labels her as an enigmatic character with a commanding presence, yet, The Zodiac Paradox demonstrates that these qualities were ingrained in her before she became Chief Operating Officer. Her rigid, independent spirit is so palpable that Walter describes her as an "extraordinary woman" after their first meeting in 1974. Her leading presence is equally evident on the road as in person, evading police at high speeds and maneuvering through traffic like a roadway maverick. Nuances such a this make The Zodiac Paradox an integral piece in the Fringe fan's collection.
The attentive balance of originality and familiarity Faust achieves assures fans that their beloved themes and characters are in good hands. The Zodiac Paradox is only the first of three official tie-in novels so fans can look forward to more Fringe content later this year. Whether its official or fan made work, it is definitely safe to say that this TV show will continue telling stories long after the series finale.
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