The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain

by Michael Crichton

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"This book recounts the five-day history of a major American scientific crisis. As in most crises, the events surrounding the Andromeda Strain were a compound of foresight and foolishness, innocence and ignorance. Nearly everyone involved had moments of great brilliance, and moments of unaccountable stupidity...."

Thus begins this extraordinary novel of the world's first space-age biological emergency.

The Andromeda Strain sets forth with almost documentary verisimilitude the unfolding story of "Project Wildfire" — the crash mobilization of the nation's highest scientific and medical resources when an unmanned research satellite returns to earth mysteriously and lethally contaminated.

Four American scientists, chosen in advance for their experimental achievements in the fields of clinical microbiology, epidemiology, pathology, and electrolyte chemistry, are summoned under conditions of total news blackout and utmost urgency to Wildfire's secret laboratory five stories beneath the Nevada desert. There — surrounded by banks of the most sophisticated computer-assisted equipment, and sealed off from the outside world except for a telecommunications link with the national security apparatus — they work against the threat of a worldwide epidemic to find an antidote to the unknown microorganism that has inexplicably killed all but two inhabitants (an elderly derelict and an infant) of the tiny Arizona town where the satellite was retrieved. Step by step they begin to unravel the puzzle of the Andromeda Strain, until, terrifyingly, their microbacterial "adversary" ruptures the hypersterile seal of the laboratory and their already desperate search for a biomedical answerbecomes a split-second race against an atomic deadline.

With its narrative force, its scientific detail, its suspense — as four brilliant individualists work together under ultimate pressure — this novel makes real for the reader the real world of today's science and medicine at the top-secret levels of the Science-Space-Military high command.

The author is a trained scientist. Newspaper stories from NASA that have appeared since the completion of the manuscript read like details from The Andromeda Strain...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061703157
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2008
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,172,687
Product dimensions: 4.24(w) x 7.44(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Crichton was a writer, director, and producer, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER. One of the most recognizable names in literature and entertainment, Crichton sold more than 200 million copies of his books, which have been translated into 40 languages and adapted into 15 films.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 23, 1942

Date of Death:

November 4, 2008

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969

Read an Excerpt

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 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 241 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.
Anonymous 5 days ago
This is by far one of Michael Crichton's best works. He expertly blends science and suspense to create a story that will keep you reading until the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many lose ends. Some may love it but I guess I was looking for a different kind of read.
StBu0404 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book about a virus epidemic. I was disappointed in the ending; it seemed like Michael Crichton was fed up with it and did a quick disappointing ending.
Siusaidh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was in 7th grade, not much of a reader, and I poured through this book in 2 days time. Need I say more?
StormRaven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Andromeda Strain is highly praised, often appearing in lists of "top" or "must read" science fiction" lists. I cannot figure out why.The story is essentially a disease story. A presumably alien organism is brought back to Earth by a space probe and kills off all but two members of the population of a small town. A special medical team is called in to investigate and they end up holed up in a special medical research bunker feverishly trying to come up with a cure for this horribly deadly threat. The alien organism threatens to get loose, the bunker's automatic defense system must be turned off to prevent it from escaping, and then, in an entirely anticlimactic twist - the organism suddenly turns benign.The whole book is written with scary time stamps on the chapters, trying to give a sense of impending doom as brave medical researchers put themselves in harm's way to halt the deadly invader. And then Crichton wraps it up with a nice bow as the invader suddenly becomes harmless, which to me makes the book a huge build up to a giant let down.The science is reasonably well-presented, and until the huge left turn the plot makes, the tension and fear created by the story is well-done. But the lame ending that blandly resets everything to status quo ante just does so much damage to the quality of the book that I can't see it as anything other than a run-of-the-mill offering in the genre.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine reading a book about biochemistry, only it's interesting and has mass appeal.That's The Andromeda Strain.When an extraterrestrial pathogen starts killing people by coagulating their blood or making them go insane and commit suicide, a crack team of scientists must isolate and investigate. The site of the crash has only two survivors: a Sterno-drinking man, and a wailing baby. The Wildfire facilities house them all, scientists and subject, until they figure out what's going on, and why these two people are still alive.Being the debut novel of Crichton, establishing him as a best-selling author of techno thrillers, this novel has a flare of realism and plausibility that many authors only dream of attaining. Though originally published in 1969, short of some ancient computers, this book could read like it was written forty years later.Though Crichton was an author that appealed more to a mass audience, he would thoroughly research his work, and make science fun and interesting to the reader. Like Bill Nye, only for grown-ups. So, if you're one of those "I only read this obscure or under-appreciated author" (I know, I'm like that too), you don't have to worry about eating McDonald's when you're used to whatever five-star restaurant is in the Ritz-Carlton you're currently living in. You may be getting a food that appeals to a wider palate, but is still just as nutritious, if not as filling.Dang, I've made myself hungry now!
jayde1599 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dates read: September 1-9, 2009Synopsis: A probe satellite falls to Earth not far from the sleepy town of Piedmont, Arizona. Two members of a government agency go out to investigate and discover bodies lying all over the road. Five prominent bioscientists are dispatched to to stop whatever is causing the crisis before it spreads outside of Piedmont. They conduct their investigation in an underground laboratory with maximum security and state of the art technology. However, they are human and make human errors, overlooking critical pieces of the puzzle. The suspense grows as the reader is left to wonder whether the scientists will find the solution in time and whether this threat could actually happen.Pros & Cons: The Andromeda Strain was published early in Crichton's career and it is interesting to see how his writing has evolved over the years. For a book published in 1969, in the midst of the Cold War, I was surprised at how the plot has not aged. The technology described feels like it could be taking place in the present and not forty years ago. I didn't find that this is Crichton's most suspenseful book, but it was still exciting and kept me captivated. There is a lot of science jargon, but I still found it easy to read and understand. Michael Crichton has become one of my favorite authors recently, and this book did not disappoint.
Technicolor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember when I was in my early teens, my mother and I were at the library and she told me that I should read The Andromeda Strain. Simply put, I loved it. Even though it was an old book, the way that Crichton morphed the characters into my head and how he made me keep flipping page after page, even though it was a school night and even though it was 02:00 in the morning. I think that this offers a young reader a change of pace from The Simpsons and Harry Potter, and that without a doubt Michael Crichton offers exactly that. A must read for any young teen.
whiteknight50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a re-read for me, I had been wanting to reread it for some time. I absolutely love this book. It is kind of cerebral, like flossing your brain. When you look at it very closely, its kind of hard to understand why it has the effect it does on me. It is totally scientific in nature, in fact, in some ways it more closely represents a science book than a novel, yet it leaves me totally engrossed by the end of the book. I always (after several repeats) find it difficult to actually get into the story. There is so little real action at the beginning, the book kind of plods along at first as it lays the scientific groundwork and sets up the story. Yet there is enough real interest throughout to allow me to anticipate what is coming. And its always worth the work. One of my favorite books. Read it if you like Science Fiction at all.
MikePearce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I dove straight into this book without reading the "First Published..." etc like I normally do. So, I was a bit confused when he started talking about computer screens you touch with a light pen! This book hasn't aged well in terms of technology, but, if you can get past that and transpose some of the old stuff with new stuff you've seen in holidaywood or newer books, it's a cracking read. I did, however, feel that the end was a *little* bit of a let down. I think it was trying for a War of the Worlds twist at the end, but it just didn't seem worth it.Read the book as it's a good crack, but don't be surprised if the end creeps up on you quickly and then goes out with a whimper!
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first, I loved 'The Andromeda Strain'. It was so neatly written, so scientific, so different to the usual airport bookshop thriller. Then, when I'd finished, I started to wonder if it really had been any good. The danger resolved itself in the worst deus ex machina kind of way, the climax was weak hollywood action, and all the hints about the scientists making crucial errors in judgment and method were wasted. What a shame!
15dingmanj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved it! People should give him more credit for his work! It is about this virus that kills within seconds and this team of scientists that are looking at it to find a way to stop it. It was REALLY good.
TonyaSB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie a couple years ago and thought the book must be better. I was surprised to find that the movie follows the book pretty closely, except for the fact that one of the doctors is a woman in the movie. I enjoyed this and it's fairly quick read so I would recommend it. Like most Crichton books, I have no criticism. I think he blends a little bit of horror with science fiction in modern life very well.
wisewoman32 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Is set up as an actual event, don't know it that's true. A great page-turner. A US satelite comes back to earth in a small town in Arizona and everyone immediately dies. They take it to an underground facility to analyze it and many problems result. Really good.
JKazenel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book, but the ending was terrible. Totally anti-climactic.
BeeQuiet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Incredibly tense book which left me feeling dazed, in the best possible way.
debs4jc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What if there was a threat from outer space--not from aliens as we typically think of them, but from a micro-organism that unleashes a new and deadly plague upon mankind? That is the premise behind this book, intriguing in itself and brilliantly brought to life by the author. Not only does the mircro-organism come to earth in a downed satelitte, it also infects a remote desert town. To the rescue come the scientists of Project Wildfire, who been contracted by the government to respond in just such an emergency. But will their efforts be enough?  While an older book, this is still a good page-turner and the premise still seems eeriely plausible.
DracoRoTor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good book, but I felt that the story cut off abruptly without me feeling satisfied. SPOILER ALERT! I WARNED YOU!! I hated that the end of the story has the virus mutating in a very dangerous (all though, not to flesh, per se) form, the characters fretting over it and the end. What about the effects of the new virus? what about further mutation?!Also, some of the plot elements don't seem to amount to anything in the end. I wish there was a pay off for everything. It almost feels like there should be a sequel.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The worst novel by Crichton I've read. Not surprisingly it's also one of his earliest. There are good elements here, seeds of Crichton's later skill. But it doesn't come together in the Andromeda Strain. There's no point, no real ending, and a bland story.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It opens with an "acknowledgments" page claiming the "book recounts the five-day history of a major American scientific crisis." That crisis? Microbes from a crashed space probe wipe out a small town in Arizona, and team "Wildfire" is assembled to identify it and find a cure. A lot of the writing is very technical, filled with scientific concepts, reports, data, charts, graphs, figures, maps and even references in the back. The book was written in 1969, but as far as I can tell as a layman the science is accurate and plausible. What really dates it is, besides all four of the scientists on the team being male, was just the gender biases of the language--things like "schoolboy" for instance being used when referring to children as a whole--I'm not a PC sort of person, believe me, and I'll eschew gender neutral language if it's awkward or ungrammatical, but it stood out to me. Otherwise the style seemed smooth enough, even if a bit dry, and the plot had a neat scientific resolution. What keeps me from rating the book higher was the characters--bland and forgettable and we learn little of them beyond their bare names.
ehines on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dateline 1969, but still a pretty good depiction/imaining of the counter bioloical warfare measures that were/may have been possible at the time.
loralu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a good quick read. ends rather quickly though.