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The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Posted by RB Kollannur on October 28, 2012


Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 20/10/2012

Publisher – Random House; Year of Publication – 1969; Pages – 288; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs 225

I have reviewed a few mystery novels in this column so far, but none like The Andromeda Strain. There are many gruesome deaths, but not by the hands of man. A mystery disease has run amok in the streets of a quiet village in Nevada leaving most people dead and driving the surviving few crazy, homicidal and eventually dead.

While the disease left a devastating trail to follow, it also left another trace, the most confounding of clues. Two people miraculously survive the massacre; two people with no similarity whatsoever – a new born baby crying its heart out for its mother and an old drunkard almost blind from methanol. Jeremy Stone and his team of scientists have to figure out what the disease is, find a cure and stop it before it reaches the nearby city of Las Vegas and spread across the world.

And to make things worse the disease turns out to be from outer space, from a space mission gone wrong.

Michael Crichton weaves a tale of suspense and horror keeping an impending event of doom omnipresent in the reader’s horizon. Written during the height of the space race between US and the Soviet Union when space ships and aliens were very much in vogue unlike today, Crichton is able to capture the reader’s attention and sustain it till the end. There are twists and turns that mutate the story in an exciting manner.

It is commendable that the author has managed to write a very believable science fiction story based in the present. He gives the novel a realistic setting, quoting fictional reports and even setting up fictional acknowledgements to make the reader believe the story depicted in the book actually happened. There is a general feel of government secrecy and cover up across the book which makes it appear plausible.

Although Crichton gained world-wide fame with his later science fiction works, “The Andromeda Strain” was his stepping stone to fame.  The novel raises a very intriguing question about space exploration and disease control. It was the first work of fiction that Crichton wrote in his own name and has been made into a movie twice (in 1971 and 2008). It is also a nod to the author’s medical background, Crichton having completed his MD the year this book was published.

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One Response to “The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton”

  1. […] 06/10/2012 31) A History of South India by KA Nilakanta Sastri – Published on 13/10/2012 32) The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton – Published on 20/10/2012 33) The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov – Published on […]

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