You probably know Michael Crichton as the guy who wrote “Jurassic Park,” which spawned four movies with a fifth coming soon. However, long before he wrote about Dr. Hammond recreating dinosaurs, Crichton was writing about a much more plausible horror.
“The Andromeda Strain” answers the question, “What if there actually is life in space?” But the answer isn’t necessarily one that the reader wants to hear.
The story begins in Piedmont, Arizona. The government has indications that a capsule they were forced to bring out of orbit has crashed near the town. Two men in a vehicle are sent to recover the capsule, but find nearly everyone in the town out in the streets, dead. What makes this strange is that we only get a little over a chapter from these two men before they keel over dead too.
Cue the Wildfire initiative. Wildfire was started by a team of scientists who were afraid that not only would some spacecraft bring something back, but that whatever it brought back would not be an intelligent being but would more likely be a virus.
The four scientists race against time to figure out what has caused everyone in the town except for an old man and a baby to die, and what caused two perfectly healthy men to drop dead. Nothing on Earth kills that fast.
Like many of Crichton’s novels, he makes you think it’s real. He gives you this preface that is mired in facts and names that makes you really believe the story he’s telling you.
What is so amazing about Crichton, and this novel specifically, is that he takes something so normal and exciting, like space travel, and says, “But what if…”
And then he scares the bejesus out of you with his what if.
To be clear, there is no Andromeda Strain, there is no known case of any spacecraft bringing back anything remotely similar to it, there is no such thing as the Wildfire initiative and there is no hard evidence to support that this could actually happen.
But, what if?
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