The Andromeda Strain: Be careful what you wish for.

Dot matrix diagrams
Computers are used to identify the organism causing the deaths.

The US military has sent small, unmanned satellites into space, hoping to find weaponizable microorganisms.

After being briefly bumped out of orbit, one of those satellites lands in Piedmont, AZ, pop. 38.

Within minutes all but two of the inhabitants — a baby and an old man — are dead.

A team of medical scientists chosen in advance for their varied expertise, are summoned to a secret subterranean laboratory in the Nevada desert to identify and contain the organism.

They work feverishly, sometimes brilliantly, often stupidly, trying to piece together what the deadly thing is.

Michael Crichton said he deliberately wrote in the “factual, non-fiction writing style of New Yorker profiles.”

Crichton intensifies the sense of reality by referring to scholarly journals, academic conferences, and including copies of documents in the text.

The characters are barely more than CV highlights. What they do is more important than who they are — and even what they do is done inside man-sized, inflatable plastic suits to keep them from contamination.

Crichton’s writing is good. His musings on the hazards that personalities bring to collaborative projects are still worth rereading.

The dot-matrix printed documents, though, are a blurry reminder that Andromeda is approaching its fiftieth birthday.

The Andromeda Strain: A Novel by Michael Crichton
Alfred A. Knopf, 1969. 295 p. 1969 bestseller #5. My grade: B.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni