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There's no doubt in my mind that the Andromeda Strain is a clever idea, particularly when it's date of origin is considered. The book sets up this idea very well with David Morse's almost dispassionate narration setting bleak opening scenes and hinting at tension that surely had to follow. The description of the Strain's impact on one small American town is a genuinely powerful scene.
At this point though the author seems to almost switch modes. As he introduces the team being set up to investigate the strain he detours into detailed bios of each of the men's achievements listing scientific papers they have written and how their careers have developed. This unfortunately then set the tone for the rest of the book where I feel Crichton seemed anxious to demonstrate his research or knowledge to the detriment of his story. To be fair I now feel I have a better grip on the pros and cons of optical versus electron microscopes than before but that's not what I read fiction for and with Morse's rather dry delivery it was hard going in parts.
To be fair to Morse there were a number of aspects of the book that would have worked very well in print at the time but were not at all suited to the audio format. An example of this would be the lengthy rendition of the communications between the mission control teams where each short sentence was preceded by a timestamp like "Sixteen hours, forty-six minutes and twenty three seconds". I imagine this worked well in print, the reader could skim-read the timestamps, but in audio poor David had to churn them out in seemingly endless monotone. Other examples included computer communications with long serial numbers and control statements. Possibly this is on occasion where a version edited for audio would be better than the original. It's something I'd rarely suggest but here I think it would make sense.
That said, it is a clever story, albeit with what I felt was a less than satisfactory ending. It does require patience and the lengthy scientific tangents means that the story never develops at a genuinely entertaining pace.
Well that's my opinion. On the other hand this was of course the novel that established Crichton and the rest as they say is history. I do think that it's probably better consumed as a novel rather than an audiobook but I also wonder if Crichton was ever tempted to revisit the Andromeda Strain as I think the story could have developed so much further.
25 of 28 people found this review helpful
Horton Hears a Who
Based on thinking out of the box (not cliché in 1969), Crichton was a genius. His theories on possible aliens is not the expected. After he explains them you will be a believer. He is to biology, what Clarke was to rockets. I have always had a great interest in biology and the diversity it can have. I have a certain awe and wonder on the many different places life takes hold, on the many different strategies life comes up with. Life is everywhere, bottom of the ocean, deserts, and in the air, so why not in space?
I'M SURE IT'S A FLUKE
This book is not for everyone. I would not call it hard science, which is what I call books that have so much complex science they are hard for the average person to understand. The science is understandable, it is just the plethora of facts that are included. At times, I felt, surely he could have just gave us a summary of the facts instead of laboriously going over each and every detail. In the hardback some of these are in graphs and drawings. In the audible version they are monotonous. In one part we are read a TRANSCRIPT OF VOICE COMMUINICATIONS SCOOP MISSION CONTROL, in which we hear the hours, minutes and seconds before each verbal communication. These communications are often 2 or three seconds apart, yet we still get 0097, 03, 31, etc... There are some other faults, such as it is dated and the amount of times the geniuses miss obvious clues. The reader gets them immediately and we find ourselves screaming at the radio, it's the acid stupid, the acid. Also the statement is made that we have never had a biological crisis. I would think the Black Plague or the Influenza in 1918, would be consider biological crises.
Besides coming up with a great alien invasion, Crichton comes up with a great underground facility. The emergency secret group of scientists and doctors, who must answer the call immediately when something happens is also pretty cool. He used this again in Sphere.
The narrator is sufficient, not great. He has a gravely voice that he uses for a number of characters. This book is not about character development, so that lack of distinction does not play that heavily as it would in some other books.
If you are a fan of Arthur C. Clarke you will enjoy this book. If books with too much data, turns you off, then read one of Crichton's later books. When this was written, data, was important to Science Fiction books. The concepts and imagination of Crichton over ride some of the flaws in the writing style. Don't get me wrong, there are some very exciting action parts to the book, it is not all about the numbers. I give the book a B+.
45 of 48 people found this review helpful
The author leaves just enough out of the plot to make this a follow along detective novel for biochemists and science fiction enthusiasts alike. Get ready to day dream all types of alien biological attacks for the next few days, because when microorganisms come from space, your mind can make anything believable. I wish this book was 2 times longer, I feel the author finished it in a rush!
36 of 40 people found this review helpful