Over the past year, I have been on a bit of a reading binge. I got this idea at the 2015 Clarksville Writer’s Conference to read the debut novel of top notch authors. Instead of reading a series or stack of novels by one author, I’ve been jumping from author to author, looking for a cross section of writing styles, views on things, and varied tastes.
This is my first of many book reports, so without further ado….
The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton
There was a movie by the same name released in 1971. As a kid, I had seen it a dozen times. Okay, maybe not that much, but anytime I spotted it, I had to stop what I was doing and watch it. It’s so cool, despite its dated look. When I learned, years later, that this was the break away novel (not debut) of the famous Harvard doctor Michael Crichton, it blew me away. I finally bit the bullet and read it last year.
A team of scientists battle a strange disease that threatens all of mankind. But instead of being loaded with cliches, the scientists battle it with real science. And they have real, believable issues that hamper their pursuit of a cure.
One scientist spots a key symptom early on that would result in a solution, but a strange, unexplainable incident causes him to forget this epiphany. Having seen the movie, I knew what happened. I won’t spoil it for you and tell you what it is, but suffice it to say that I have suffered the same in the past, and this connected with me on a personal level.
Michael Crichton has a strong basis in biological science with his medical education. He clearly shows preferences for the hard sciences as did Isaac Asimov. He takes things into the realm of “this may not exist today, but I believe it could in the future.”
The novel isn’t as dated as the movie. The scenes with the military sound realistic. I can visualize the parts in the labs where experiments are conducted. I may not be on top of medical research, so perhaps some of the stuff mentioned is ancient. But it gripped me. And it doesn’t slow down and bore you with research, but instead makes things exciting.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that little was changed from novel to movie. The novel has an all male set of characters whereby they changed a key doctor to a woman in the movie, for the better. Kate Reid delivers a superior performance as a sassy, knows-what-she-knows microbiologist. But the core story and the big wrinkles are all there. Makes me want to go and watch the movie, again.
The whole thing is cutely wrapped up as a government memo you are reading implying this event DID happen. I always enjoy little bits like that, and I hope you do as well.
Happy reading until my next book report!