The Andromeda Strain
By: Michael Crichton

Quick-take: Missed opportunity

Dan's Review

Some crazy space virus is on the verge of infecting the world unless a small team of scientists in a secret 5-level government bunker can unravel its secrets. Sounds exciting, right? Well, you would be wrong. Somehow, Michael Crichton made a potential pandemic dull.

Michael Crichton is serious about getting his science correct... to the detriment of everything else in this story. Basically, take your favorite virus outbreak movie and strip away all the parts that makes it interesting: desperate families, snake oil salesmen, strong government action, hospitals overrun, doctors triaging patients due to limited supplies, corporations behaving badly.

Seriously, there is a lot of potential content to choose from. What does Michael Crichton do? He points the camera at the science lab and deep dives in to chemical bonds, biological sciences, computer simulations, and sanitation procedures. Essentially, the focus of the book is on the absolute least interesting part of a new devastating virus.

I appreciate trying to stay scientifically accurate, and I am sure much of it is, but I couldn't help but shake my head at some of the proclamations. The book was written in 1969. There were a few scenes that did not age well: "Some estimate around 600 satellites in orbit!" -as if it was a big conspiracy. We now have over 2000. The book also discussed at length at powerful computers taking "just a few seconds" to perform difficult calculations. These days we measure most computer operations in milliseconds.

Overall, I score it 2/5. There is an interesting story somewhere in there. There is just too many pages of needless techno-science trying to find it.

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