Review: “The Andromeda Strain” by Michael Crichton

andromedaThis review is my second review for the Guardian 1000 Books You Must Read challenge. It does not count toward any of the requirements other than the 10 books, since it is also in the Crime section. You can also see all the reviews for this challenge.

In The Andromeda Strain, after a spacecraft crashes to Earth a “biological crisis” ensues and certain Top Secret government protocols are initiated. Can the most brilliant scientists in America prevent disaster?

This book is very short and very easy to read. It only took me three days to blow through it. This is in stark contrast to most of Crichton’s other work that I’ve come into contact with (like, say, Jurassic Park). I think this was mainly an artifact of the abrupt ending; the book could have probably been twice as long as it was, it just sort of ends with a twist instead and leaves you to sort out the pieces.

I was also surprised to find it in the “Crime” section on the list: I would have thought it more science fiction, although I suppose the bulk of the book is CSI-style investigation using fairly realistic science. The only unrealistic science (at least, it seems that way to me) is when Crichton extrapolates the technology he feels the government must have in its secret labs based on what technology was available publicly at the time.

Ths book rubbed me a little bit the wrong way on some things, mainly due to my libertarian sensibilities. Crichton appears to put great confidence in the ability of the government and top scientists in the private community to both make and keep secret scientific discoveries for long periods of time. One such example is a pill that causes all bacteria in your body to die that apparently “cures cancer” though with negative side effects. Another example is the existence of the lab featured in the story itself. I don’t feel the government is competent enough to conceal this kind of information.

Overall this is a book definitely good enough and short enough for everyone to enjoy. The Guardian made a good choice here.


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