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on August 2, 2000
This isn't my first Michael Crichton book, but i think it's the best. I've read Jurassic Park, and the Lost World before this, and they were fairly good. But this book topped both of them. It was assigned summer reading for me this year, and i thought, "Oh great, another boring book that i have to read." But when i started reading it, I found myself reading for 2 hours just striving to complete the next chapter.(I'm a slow reader) The words that he uses are sometimes hard to read, and i pulled out a dictionary for all the ones that i couldn't figure out. I don't really like reading books, but this book has changed my mind on reading. It was so suspenseful in the end that i found i chewed my fingernails down to stubs when i finished reading. Anyone who loves suspense will be over powered by the amount of it generated by this book.
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on September 14, 2000
The back cover starts: "Five prominent biophysicists give the US government an urgent warning: sterilisation procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere." Biophysicists, right? One can hardly find a more appropriate reading to read on the train, when I was travelling to the 3rd European biophysics congress in Munich earlier this month.
This novel will teach you that the life on earth was in early February 1967 close to disaster comparable to the impact of Chixculub meteorite 65 million years ago. An US space probe, Scoop VII, brought with it a highly virulent and pathogenous alien life form from the orbit, before it crashed into the Arizona desert. After wreaking havoc in a small Arizona town, the space probe is transferred into the ultra-secret high-security US government lab in Nevada, built just a couple of months before to prevent dispersion of toxic extraterrestrial agents. Here, a group of five scientists led by a Nobel prize winner, bacteriologist Jeremy Stone, starts a race with time. What exactly is this alien life form? By which mechanism does it affect human body? Under what conditions does it multiply? How can we stop it before it wipes away the human population?
The novel contains quite a bit of technical details - it's science fiction after all, right? - where Crichton will pause and explain with a patience and persistence of a good-humoured teacher. So in case you didn't know what proteins are and what they are made from; or how electron microscope operates; or what can cause blood acidity in a patient - you will learn it all here.
It would be interesting to know how many scientists today were influenced by this novel to pursue a career in science. Because, after all, what Crichton writes is mostly how a scientific experiment is conducted. OK, the method in biosciences have advanced somewhat from the late sixties, but the spirit is still here. So while you are unlikely to encounter the situation when you have a few hours to save the humankind, scientific research never loses its share of excitement, either.
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on March 27, 1999
Michael Crichton must be a psychic. Thirty years before researchers discovered the effects of microorganisms, Crichton predicted a virus just as deadly. The Andromeda Strain is a classic, terrifying novel of biophysics. The way Crichton combines facts and fiction results in a masterpiece. With the exception of some intense scientific vocabulary, the descriptive language used by Crichton in this novel is brilliant.
When an unmanned satellite returns to earth lethally contaminated, four American scientists are ordered to a secret lab to work against the threat of a worldwide epidemic. There are no villains in this novel - only the microscopic organisms of earth's extinction. This is a perfect story line, written with immense detail. Crichton does a superb job of setting the scene and describing the characters. He leaves his reader not wanting to stop, having great cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. The suspense builds inevitably to a heart-stopping conclusion. It is an intelligent and tightly plotted suspense-thriller.
Many of Crichton's works masterfully combine fact and fiction. The Andromeda Strain is no exception as the scientific elements are expertly interwoven with the fictional world of underground laboratories and secret agents. Crichton's facts about bacteria and viruses are right on - he goes as far as using quotes from professors and scientists as well as diagrams to support his arguments. When he switches to fictional mode, Crichton does not lose a step. His theories about government testing grounds and secret government projects, written thirty years prior, do not seem at all unrealistic in today's high-tech world.
Although the novel grabs the reader's attention from the very first page with its crisp prose, there are some minor impediments in that this is a highly technical narrative, centering on complex issues of science. Even Crichton, in his acknowledgments preceding the novel, apologizes "...if the reader must occasionally struggle through an arid passage of technical detail." Fortunately, Crichton was also able to mix up his writing style. Here is an example of a beautifully written verse:
"He often argued that human intelligence was more trouble than it was worth. It was more destructive than creative, more confusing than revealing, more discouraging than satisfying, more spiteful than charitable."
This passage clearly shows how diverse Crichton can be in his writing. The metaphors he uses fit perfectly with the plot of the story at the time this passage is used. Crichton constantly switches from technical to figurative language as if to cater his novel to all of his readers.
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on September 4, 2001
This book is the best, and I could never put it down! It describes the search for an organism that is killing people. The way Crichton portrays all of his characters is magnificent, which is why I really connected with this book. I felt as if I was the missing scientist from the team! I sincerely liked the way Crichton concealed the identity of the person who deciphered the mystery. I genuinely enjoyed reading about the long hours spent down in Level V of the Wildfire base. This is where Hall took care of Mr. Jackson and the baby, where Burton performed his autopsies, and where Stone and Leavitt worked on finding the organism. The other part I thoroughly enjoyed was reading about Burton and Stone while they were in Piedmont, looking for the satellite. What they found was so startling, that you hardly new what to expect next. I really believe you should buy this book, because it is such a wonderful scientific mystery!
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on March 7, 2002
This book describes a fictious encounter with microbes from beyond. The men sent to recover a sattelite from where it has landed in this small town wonder why there are no lights at all in a town at ten-oclock at night. They enter the town and within five minutes are dead.
Next we encounter a number of scientists in different locations as they are alerted to the situation and sent to the government labratory that has been prepared for this situation, and the steps that they take to analyze and isolate the organism. The lab is the perfect place to study such an organism: it is even equipped with a nuclear self-destruct in case things go wrong.....
Mr. Crichton tells a simple but logical tale in this volume and as he often does in his books, makes it hard to distinguish between the real elements of science that he uses for the basis of the premise, and the fictious facts he makes to take the premise to its conclusion. This is classic fiction, and the fact that it is over thirty years old takes nothing from it. Definitely worth the read.
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on September 3, 2005
I really love later Crichton, but this one was one of his earlier ones, and you can tell. It starts out VERY intriguing, and sets the reader up to keep the pages turning. However, towards the end he seems to try to wrap it up too quickly, and he left me saying, "That's it?" "State of Fear" and "Prey" hooked me in and left me saying, "WOW!" at the end. So I was a little disappointed. But still a good book.
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VINE VOICEon July 6, 2000
This is the first Crichton book that I ever read. The book is a thrilling account of the introduction of a space-borne bacteria into the earths atmosphere. The bacteria wipes everyone in a small town except a drunk and a crying baby. The book is a life-like account of what the scientists found, how they tried to find what the bacteria is, why these two people survived, and how do they find a cure. I felt the fictional technology was incredible by todays standards, much less in 1969 when this book was originally copywrited.
As an Engineer, I found this book absolutely awsome. The way the book was written in general was excellent. They way the story was layed out for the reader made it so that I never wanted to put it down. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes science/science fiction based work.
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on July 26, 2014
As embarrassing as this sounds, I had never read a Michael Crichton novel when I purchased “The Andromeda Strain,” first published in 1969. In my defense, I’ve seen the 1971 movie many times over the years. And after finally reading the book, I found that the movie was completely faithful to the story, thanks to screenwriters Crichton and Nelson Gidding.

What I found most intriguing is Crichton’s clinical style in telling the story of a military satellite that has returned to earth, infected with a virus from space. The writing is meticulous as it carefully describes the protocols around retrieving the satellite and examining the only two victims still alive—a Sterno-huffing old man and a baby—after the virus wipes out the tiny population of Piedmont, Arizona. This is an interesting approach to building tension without resorting to hysterics. But don’t fool yourself—the terror is real as we learn that nuclear weapons may be needed to halt the spread. In the movie, the lead scientist Dr. Jeremy Stone is played by Arthur Hill—not the most exciting guy on the planet but one whose quiet ways can come off as disturbing. I can imagine Hill narrating the audio book, letting the horror unfold as the small group of scientists deep underground in Nevada go about trying to stop something they don’t fully understand.

Here’s my recommendation. Read the book, then rent the movie. You’re welcome.
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on May 23, 2016
I think this book had the potential to be much more than what it ended up being. The first chapter sucks the reader into the story immediately, but then spends the remainder of the book slowly building up steam, only to abruptly finish without any sort of resolution. It was also much more technical that I was expecting and I feel that perhaps someone who doesn’t have a background in molecular or microbial methods, let alone aseptic procedures, could easily get lost in all the technical jargon. It seemed that Crichton threw around “Millipore” quite frequently without delving into what its purpose is.

That being said, this is science fiction above all else. An organism of unknown origins has appeared on Earth and has destroyed an entire town. Some people died immediately, some people went crazy and committed suicide but two survived. An elderly man with chronic ulcers and a two-month old baby. A group of 5 scientists at the top of their fields have been brought together in an underground research facility to attempt to discover the nature of the organism and potentially “cure” it.

Without giving away the ending, it was frustrating for me because it was really just explained away using general bacterial or viral properties, most importantly, mutation. I was expecting (and this is probably my own fault) something more along the lines of the excitement introduced by Contagion or Outbreak, but this sort of fell flat and never became exciting. The most exciting parts for me to read were the parts discussing the different types of media and environments that were suitable to grow an unknown organism and the sort of vector used for transfer.

This book just didn’t strike a chord with me. The author is a good writer and this piece was solidly worded but it stayed within the realm of reality for too long and for too much of the book, which didn’t make for a very exciting story which is how it’s hyped all over the cover. I’ll still give Crichton another chance because he has a few titles I’m very interested in and this book wasn’t enough to deter me from his writing.
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on June 3, 2013
This one was an interesting read, and very technical, but I realized about half way through that I didn't care if any of them lived or died. There was zero character connection.

The technical aspects were very well written and interesting enough that I finished the book, but I'm not going to be looking for anything else by this author.
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