#TheAndromedaStrain: Impressive Science, Disappointing Fiction

The Andromeda Strain
By: Michael Crichton
My Rating: Three out of five stars
Best for: 14 and up

Classic Crichton, Pointless Crichton

I’ve read nearly everything Michael Crichton wrote. I read Jurassic Park in high school (before it was a movie) and many times since. I’ve read Airframe, Eaters of the dead, The Great Train Robbery, The Terminal Man, and on and on and on. I have no explanation, but somehow I never read The Andromeda Strain–one of his earliest and most famous stories! Maybe it was because I oddly remember watching the 1971 movie sometimes during the 80’s and never felt the need?

Whatever the reason, it was time.

I doubt much background is needed for this ScyFy classic: A military satellite falls to earth and mysteriously causes the death of every one in a tiny, remote town in Arizona. To prevent global spread and instant death, the government activates a hyper secure, hyper sterile facility where five scientists isolate themselves with the most advanced technology on the planet until they understand what’s causing the deaths and how to prevent them. Oh, and the entire facility is sitting on a nuclear bomb that will automatically go off in case of a containment breach. So, you know. No pressure.

That’s the set up.

Michael Crichton was always known for his detailed, smart science, and even though I anticipated it I couldn’t stop being impressed with The Andromeda Strain. The book was written in 1969, but aside from a few obvious examples I found the science SO impressive–particularly when compared with the 1971 movie. Like all great science fiction masters, Michael Crichton could see the future, and his mind was far, far ahead of what Hollywood was capable of at that time.

What wasn’t so impressive was the 60’s era plotting. I’ll tread lightly to avoid spoilers, but while the science was cool, I found the story quite weak and the ending frustrating. This is one ScyFy Classic that could absolutely benefit from a reboot.

There are no content concerns, but 60’s ScyFy sexism is on full display.

Best for 14 and up.

Happy Reading!

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