The signs above are more than just constellations in Romina Russell’s new novel Zodiac. In the world Russel has crafted, they are representative of a way of life, a culture, and entire peoples – not just determinants as to if the characters will have a bad day or hear some good news.
“Each planetary system in Zodiac is based on the sign it’s named after, which affects everything from the world’s topography and design to its citizens’ personalities and physical attributes,” said Russell. “It was so much fun using astrology and mythology to build the cultures and governments and sociologies of each world.”
On planet Leo, the people are proud but can be pushy, are tan with toothy smiles and tattoos. In House Capricorn, the people are wise. The people of Sagittarius are inquisitive. All 12 well-known zodiacs are represented in the Houses – plus one more very real sign.
Ophiuchus is the 13th sign in Russell’s world. Although most people are only familiar with the 12 signs and the constellations associated with them – the two do not always coincide with each other – Ophiuchus is a real constellation that can be seen during the summer in the northern hemisphere opposite Orion. When strange things start happening to the existing 12 Houses, heroine Rho suspects the Guardian of the 13th sign.
“I felt that in the Zodiac universe, the constellations would actually be sentient and have a strong connection to the cosmos,” said Russell. “The idea is that when the Earthlings arrived—these Earthlings who are far more advanced than us and who have been traveling through Space for generations—the Guardian Star of each House fell onto a planet and became mortal.”
Though the Guardians play a role, but it’s Rho who takes center stage. After the death of thousands on her planet, including her planet’s Guardian, Rho becomes her House’s next leader. But as a Cancer, she’s not what most people would consider tough.
“I wanted to write a story about a girl with a warrior’s heart,” said Russell. “I was curious to see the full character arc of a soft, sheltered girl who was pushed by the most extreme of circumstances.”Author Romina Russell.
Courtesy of Romina Russell.
With a mythos based on the signs, readers are likely to find themselves reflected in the House of their astrological sign. While much of Zodiac takes place in House Cancer because that’s where Rho’s from, Russell hinted that readers can expect to explore more the different Houses in the sequel – including Capricorn, one of her favorite worlds.
“The series takes something we all have—an astrological sign—and explores what life would be like if it mattered. If that sign was as significant as our country of birth, our physical appearance, our race and background—if our very fate was tied to it—what would the universe be like?”