The Andromeda Strain

By: Michael Crichton

The United States government is forced to mobilize Project Wildfire, a top-secret emergency response protocol. Four of the nation’s most elite biophysicists are summoned to a clandestine underground laboratory located five stories beneath the desert and fitted with an automated atomic self-destruction mechanism for cases of irremediable contamination. Under conditions of total news blackout and the utmost urgency, the scientists race to understand and contain the crisis.

Auuster's Takeaway

The Andromeda strain is a fast paced, movie-like novel, it is no surprise that 2 years later a movie was made from the book. The book talks about an unknown microorganism that has reached the surface of the Earth from a Scoop satellite. The fast mutating organism decimated the village it was exposed to and was extracted to an alien microorganism facility called Wild Fire. Here the strain was studied by 4 scientists to characterize and identify the alien strain. In this time sensitive timeline, the scientist uses a multitude of characterization techniques to identify the seemingly out-of-this-world organism.

This book felt like a thriller movie, as I read it I could visualize the scenes as if I was in the theatres. It had an plot that threatened the world, the main characters were on a tight timeline to solve a mystery. Even one of the characters get shot… Also I liked it because it made science look sexy, even in 1969 it was using characterization techniques that I learned in undergrad. Either my undergrad was a decade behind, or the book used very advanced characterization techniques. Anyways, I related to this story because I’ve used some of the techniques before and understood well how they work. It was interesting to see how it was applied in this story!

ThsFung's Takeaway

The Andromeda Strain is about an alien virus brought to Earth by an exploratory satellite crash landing in the middle of a small town in Nevada. The virus quickly spread throughout the town as soon as the curious townspeople opened up the satellite, killing everyone within minutes. The story follows four scientists as they used advanced techniques and machinery (for the time) to find a cure before all of humanity is wiped out.

Crichton definitely put his medical degree to use here. He uses his scientific knowledge to create tension as he patiently explains the horrors of this biological nightmare. There were moments when the technical sections were a bit overwhelming, but Crichton never lets it stray too far from the story he's trying to tell. Overall great book with a good spin on the traditional scifi storytelling with the technicalities. Would recommend to anyone who likes scifi or thrillers.