From Chapter 52: China (Summer 2013)
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 52: China, out now.

Illustrations: Mark Goss

The story of the Chinese zodiac is cute but a bit trite. The Jade Emperor summoned all the animals in the universe for a race. But only the 12 animals of the zodiac headed to the Emperor’s palace.

During the race, the animals were involved in a variety of activities, ranging from seedy hijinx to unscaled heroism. For example, the Rat jumped onto the back of the Ox and won the competition by a nose. The Snake, smart but also sneaky, hid on the hoof of the Horse in order to cross a river. When the horse and snaked crossed to the other side, the Snake scared the Horse and beat it in the contest. The Dragon would have won—with its ability to fly—but it stopped to help the Rabbit cross the river. The specific characteristics of each zodiac animal affected the order in which they finished. According to the Chinese zodiac, the year of your birth tells you more than just your age. It is believed that one’s personality is affected by the animal associated with their birth year.

It is also believed that some couples are more compatible than others, depending on the zodiac (like the Western astrological zodiac year, which is based on months). There are five elements in the zodiac, also associated with the animals and their personalities: Wood, Earth, Fire,
Water, and Metal

Two thousand and sixteen is the Year of the Monkey. It is believed that those born under the sign of the Snake are financially lucky.