If you miss Dr. Walter Bishop or Olivia Dunham or even the Observers as I do, you’ll be happy to hear that Titan Books has created a new book series that will add additional details and stories about our favorite characters from Fringe. And to start the series off, they’ve enlisted author Christa Faust to provide an early tale of a mid-70s crisis that brought together Walter, William Bell, and Nina Sharp. The book is Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox, and it’s available now.
The story starts in 1968, with young graduates students Walter and William doing some self-experimentation with acid. Fans of the show already know that Walter is no stranger to self-administering doses of dozens of mind altering drugs, but here we get an early glimpse into some of the reasons that Walter and William were drawn to one another in the first place — trying to expand consciousness and test the limits of the human mind. During this one particular “trip,” they use an experimental mixture and discover themselves able to open a small portal. Unfortunately, on the flip-side of that portal, an infamous serial killer (also on acid) is being chased by the police and inadvertently crosses over from his universe into ours. This brush with William and Walter leaves the three men with bits of knowledge of one another via this shared-trip (and the serial killer with an unusual ability that makes him even more dangerous). Yeah, it get’s a bit weird, but everything is completely on-level and completely within the normal explanations that fans have come to expect from the TV show.
The remainder of the book follows William and Walter as they discover their mistake in allowing this man to cross over and their attempt to send him back to his own universe. Along the way, they enlist the help of genius chemistry and MBA graduate, Nina Sharp, are chased by an FBI agent who is pursuing the serial killer for his own unethical reasons, and take some time out to hang out with one of Walter’s favorite 60s bands, Violet Sedan Chair, and drop acid with them (but not just for any old reason). It reads just like a standard Fringe television show minus, of course, Olivia, Peter, and Astrid.
Regarding the television show, it ended with a happy, feel-good episode, allowing us fans to rest comfortably knowing that Peter and Olivia were going to be alright. But there were so many unanswered questions that you (and I) probably never knew we needed the answers to — most of them probably minor and not related to any plot holes. What I like about this opening book in this new series is that so much of the story and the dialogue begin to fill in some of those questions.
For example, there really was never any explanation given for why Nina seemed to run Massive Dynamic… but readers will learn why her opposition to marriage led to this high-level position.
So many more questions… with plenty of answers provided in The Zodiac Paradox.
When did William Bell first betray Walter Bishop? What are the origins of Cortexaphan? Why did William and Bell choose to experiment on children (including Olivia) rather than adult test subjects? Where did Walter get the idea for the magic “window pane” that could see into the other universe? Were the Observers always aware of Walter or did something happen earlier (than Peter’s kidnapping) to trigger their attention? Fringe Division was already in existence when Olivia took Walter out of the asylum… but how and when did it come into existence?
I didn’t find any story-related content that directly contradicted anything from the TV show. And none of the new information or character development breaks or changes what we know to be true about these characters. Instead, I got 350+ pages of more Walter Bishop, my favorite unbalanced scientist with a heart.
And Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox is just Book 1. Coming in July, Titan will be releasing Faust’s next story, Fringe: The Burning Man. The description hints at another earlier story, one from Olivia Dunham’s point of view. I’m hoping that future books will share more about Astrid, Peter, and maybe even September, our favorite Observer.
Note: I’d like to thank Tom for providing a review copy of Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox.