The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain

4.1 195
by Michael Crichton

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The United States government is given a warning by the pre-eminent biophysicists in the country: current sterilization procedures applied to returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.

Two years later, seventeen satellites are sent into the outer fringes of space to "collect organisms and dust for study."

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The United States government is given a warning by the pre-eminent biophysicists in the country: current sterilization procedures applied to returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.

Two years later, seventeen satellites are sent into the outer fringes of space to "collect organisms and dust for study." One of them falls to earth, landing ina desolate area of Arizona.

Twelve miles from the landing site, in the town of Piedmont, a shocking discovery is made: the streets are littered with the dead bodies of the town's inhabitants, as if they dropped dead in their tracks.

The terror has begun . . .

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.24(w) x 7.44(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain

Chapter One

The Country of Lost Borders

A man with binoculars. That is how it began: with a man standing by the side of the road, on a crest overlooking a small Arizona town, on a winter night.

Lieutenant Roger Shawn must have found the binoculars difficult. The metal would be cold, and he would be clumsy in his fur parka and heavy gloves. His breath, hissing out into the moonlit air, would have fogged the lenses. He would be forced to pause to wipe them frequently, using a stubby gloved finger.

He could not have known the futility of this action. Binoculars were worthless to see into that town and uncover its secrets. He would have been astonished to learn that the men who finally succeeded used instruments a million times more powerful than binoculars.

There is something sad, foolish, and human in the image of Shawn leaning against a boulder, propping his arms on it, and holding the binoculars to his eyes. Though cumbersome, the binoculars would at least feel comfortable and familiar in his hands. It would be one of the last familiar sensations before his death.

We can imagine, and try to reconstruct, what happened from that point on.

Lieutenant Shawn swept over the town slowly and methodically. He could see it was not large, just a half-dozen wooden buildings, set out along a single main street. It was very quiet: no lights, no activity, no sound carried by the gentle wind.

He shifted his attention from the town to the surrounding hills. They were low, dusty, and blunted, with scrubby vegetation and an occasional withered yucca treecrusted in snow. Beyond the hills were more hills, and then the flat expanse of the Mojave Desert, trackless and vast. The Indians called it the Country of Lost Borders.

Lieutenant Shawn found himself shivering in the wind. It was February, the coldest month, and it was after ten. He walked back up the road toward the Ford Econovan, with the large rotating antenna on top. The motor was idling softly; it was the only sound he could hear. He opened the rear doors and climbed into the back, shutting the doors behind him.

He was enveloped in deep-red light: a night light, so that he would not be blinded when he stepped outside. In the red light the banks of instruments and electronic equipment glowed greenly.

Private Lewis Crane, the electronics technician, was there, also wearing a parka. He was hunched over a map, making calculations with occasional reference to the instruments before him.

Shawn asked Crane if he were certain they had arrived at the place, and Crane confirmed that they had. Both men were tired: they had driven all day from Vandenberg in search of the latest Scoop satellite. Neither knew much about the Scoops, except that they were a series of secret capsules intended to analyze the upper atmosphere and then return. Shawn and Crane had the job of finding the capsules once they had landed.

In order to facilitate recovery, the satellites were fitted with electronic beepers that began to transmit signals when they came down to an altitude of five miles.

That was why the van had so much radio-directional equipment. In essence, it was performing its own triangulation. In Army parlance it was known as single-unit triangulation, and it was highly effective, though slow. The procedure was simple enough: the van stopped and fixed its position, recording the strength and direction of the radio beam from the satellite. Once this was done, it would be driven in the most likely direction of the satellite for a distance of twenty miles. Then it would stop and take new coordinates. In this way, a series of triangulation points could be mapped, and the van could proceed to the satellite by a zigzag path, stopping every twenty miles to correct any error. The method was slower than using two vans, but it was safer -- the Army felt that two vans in an area might arouse suspicion.

For six hours, the van had been closing on the Scoop satellite. Now they were almost there.

Crane tapped the map with a pencil in a nervous way and announced the name of the town at the foot of the hill: Piedmont, Arizona. Population forty-eight; both men laughed over that, though they were both inwardly concerned. The Vandenberg ESA, or Estimated Site of Arrival, had been twelve miles north of Piedmont. Vandenberg computed this site on the basis of radar observations and 1410 computer trajectory projections. The estimates were not usually wrong by more than a few hundred yards.

Yet there was no denying the radio-directional equipment, which located the satellite beeper directly in the center of town. Shawn suggested that someone from the town might have seen it coming down -- it would be glowing with the heat -- and might have retrieved it, bringing it into Piedmont.

This was reasonable, except that a native of Piedmont who happened upon an American satellite fresh from space would have told someone -- reporters, police, NASA, the Army, someone.

But they had heard nothing.

Shawn climbed back down from the van, with Crane scrambling after him, shivering as the cold air struck him. Together, the two men looked out over the town.

It was peaceful, but completely dark. Shawn noticed that the gas station and the motel both had their lights doused. Yet they represented the only gas station and motel for miles.

And then Shawn noticed the birds.

In the light of the full moon he could see them, big birds, gliding in slow circles over the buildings, passing like black shadows across the face of the moon. He wondered why he hadn't noticed them before, and asked Crane what he made of them.

Crane said he didn't make anything of them. As a joke, he added, "Maybe they're buzzards."

The Andromeda Strain. Copyright © by Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Andromeda Strain 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 195 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Except for very few moments in the book, you would not realize this book was written in 1969. The idea of a biological pandemic is pretty common nowadays with zombie movies, the movie "Outbreak," etc. but the way this story was presented and how the virus/bacteria comes into existence shows how brilliant and how much Crichton was ahead of his time. This was a very quick read but it is probably better suited for those who have at least a decent understanding of science and appreciate intellectual thrillers. This book makes you think, and if you can put this into perspective given the context of when this was written, you will love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent. Thrilling and very persuasive. I had seen the movie several times and was pleasantly surprised at how well the movie followed the book.
Blue_Inked_Pen More than 1 year ago
On one fateful night,Piedmont receives a gift. Withing minutes, the town is dead, as if they dropped for no reason in the middle of the night. Now, Wildfire is activated, summoning scientists from across the country to help solve the mystery of what happened, and why 2 lonely survivors managed to avoid the catastrophe that claimed so many others. But their time is limited, as soon their quarantine breaks and people start dying. A thrilling Sci-Fi novel that will leave you questioning things you never thought to ask before. You will feel as though you are a member of the wildfire team, discovering possible cures only to find that the virus has evolved into a new, deadlier form. I first discover Micheal Crichton through the wonderful novel of Jurassic park, and thought that he would be a one hit wonder author. I was pleased to find I was wrong, and reading this book shed new light on the world of biology for me. The entire novel is not a simple 'What-if?" technology, all of it based off technology we do indeed have, if not a little more simplified and advanced, but based in reality nonetheless. Mr. Crichton, god rest him, was also a very well educated individual, sporting both his own speculations and those of other scientists who were experts on their respected subjects. I also enjoyed it because not only did I find myself thinking about the subjects I was reading about, but I was also generating my own knowledge and interest, and later found myself studying more about Biology simply so that I could read on a higher intellect level. Sci-Fi lovers would love it as well as scientists, as the book uses ideas that causes questions to be raised and answered, but only if the reader is truly paying attention to the book itself.
Drewano 11 days ago
‘The Andromeda Strain’ is a well written, well thought out and descriptive book, however it fails to deliver any concrete action or really any suspense until the final moments of the story. At parts it feels like a medical drama that gets too deep into the weeds of what it’s describing rather than moving the story along. If I were a virologist or chemist I’d probably rate this a bit higher but from layman’s perspective I found the story a bit too slow for my liking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've ever read! But there is one nagging thought - is it maybe possible that this is not entirely fiction? This reads as if it was based closely on fact! Really, truly scary!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a microbiologist and a huge Michael Crichton fan, so this book was right up my alley. It included the right amount of technicality to keep the reader well-informed yet interested. I would highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even tho ther was lots of medical terms and science kinda confusing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
rbdavid More than 1 year ago
Still good after all these years!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. It was hard to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Strain is a classic science fiction novel that you won’t regret reading. It’s relatively short and engaging. It utilizes mystery and, at times, a sense of horror to grab your attention. The book is given as a narrative retelling of a report given after the fiasco of the Andromeda Strain: an alien micro-organism that landed on earth via a fallen manmade satellite. The effects of the organism’s presence are immediately evident when the populace of a nearby town is wasted. A team of scientist must unlock its secrets before the strain can get out of control and decimate the human race. The book doesn’t spend much time with suspense. The narrator says on more than one occasion that the people involved did indeed survive and that the threat was properly dealt with. That isn’t the question for the reader. Rather, the intrigue is in the “how.” How did they manage to solve the mystery of the alien micro-organism? Over the course of the storytelling the narrator will frequently point out dire mistakes made by the team. As the reader encounters one error after another, one begins to wonder how the team went from point A (going in the wrong direction) to point B (the solution). What makes this book really impressive is the amount of thought that went into the details. Crichton is smart and it reflects in the incredibly in-depth science that goes into explaining the Andromeda strain and the progress made by the team. Maybe you’ll understand it and maybe it’ll go way over your head, but it certainly deepens the reader’s experience of realism. Despite being decades old it is definitely worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this paperback version in 1993 and i have read it so many times. I do find it strange that they are selling it on here for $9.99 and i bought it in '93 for $7.99.
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