World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Andromeda Strain

Article Id: WHEBN0000048573
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Andromeda Strain  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain (miniseries), The Venom Business, Zero Cool, Grave Descend
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain
First edition cover
Author Michael Crichton
Country United States
Language English
Genre Techno-thriller
Publisher Knopf
Publication date
May 12, 1969
Media type Hardcover
Pages 350
OCLC 12231
Followed by The Terminal Man

The Andromeda Strain (1969), by clots the blood in most humans, while inducing insanity in a small handful of others. The Andromeda Strain appeared in the New York Times Best Seller list, establishing Michael Crichton as a genre writer.

Plot summary

When a military extraterrestrial biological infestation.

The scientists believe the satellite, which was intentionally designed to capture upper-atmosphere microorganisms for bio-weapon exploitation, returned with a deadly microorganism that kills by nearly instantaneous disseminated intravascular coagulation (lethal blood clotting). Upon investigating the town, the Wildfire team discovers that the residents either died in mid-stride or went "quietly nuts" and committed bizarre suicides. Two Piedmont inhabitants, the sick, Sterno-addicted, geriatric Peter Jackson; and the constantly bawling infant, Jamie Ritter, are biologic opposites who somehow survived the organism.

The man, infant, and satellite are taken to the secret underground Wildfire laboratory, a secure facility equipped with every known capacity for protection against a biological element escaping into the atmosphere, including a nuclear weapon to incinerate the facility if necessary. Wildfire is hidden in a remote area near the fictional town of Flatrock, Nevada, sixty miles from Las Vegas hiding it by locating it in the sub-basements of a legitimate Department of Agriculture research station.

Further investigation determines that the bizarre deaths were caused by a crystal-structured, extraterrestrial microbe on a meteor that crashed into the satellite, knocking it from orbit. The microbe contains chemical elements required for terrestrial life and appears to have a crystalline structure, but lacks DNA, RNA, proteins, and amino acids, yet it directly transforms matter to energy and vice versa.

The microbe, code named "Andromeda", mutates with each growth cycle, changing its biologic properties. The scientists learn that Andromeda grows only within a narrow pH range; in a too-acid or too-basic growth medium, it will not multiply—Andromeda's pH range is 7.39–7.43, like that of human blood. That is why Jackson and Ritter survived: both had abnormal blood pH. However, by the time the scientists realize that, Andromeda's current mutation degrades the lab's plastic shields and escapes its containment. Trapped in an Andromeda-contaminated laboratory, Dr. Burton demands that Stone inject him with Kalocin ("the universal antibiotic"); Stone refuses, arguing it would render Burton too vulnerable to infection by other harmful bacteria. Burton survives because Andromeda has already mutated to nonlethal form.

The mutated Andromeda attacks the synthetic rubber door and hatch seals within the Wildfire complex, racing to the upper levels and the surface. The self-destruct atomic bomb is automatically armed when it detects a containment breach, triggering its detonation countdown to prevent the spread of the infection. As the bomb arms, the scientists realize that given Andromeda's ability to generate matter directly from energy, the organism would feed, reproduce, and ultimately benefit from an atomic explosion.

To halt the atomic detonation, Dr. Hall must insert his special key to an emergency substation anywhere in Wildfire. Unfortunately, he is trapped in a section with no substation. He must navigate Wildfire's obstacle course of automatic defenses to reach a working substation on an upper level. He barely disarms the bomb in time before all the air is evacuated from the deepest level of the Wildfire complex. Andromeda eventually mutates to a benign form and is suspected to have migrated to the upper atmosphere, where the oxygen content is lower, better suiting Andromeda's growth.

The novel's epilogue reveals that a manned spacecraft, Andros V, was incinerated during atmospheric re-entry, presumably because Andromeda had eaten its plastic heat shield and caused it to burn up.

Main characters

  • Dr. Jeremy Stone – Professor and chair of the bacteriology department at Stanford University; a Nobel Prize winner.[1][2]
  • Dr. Charles Burton – Professor of pathology at the Baylor College of Medicine
  • Dr. Peter Leavitt – Clinical microbiologist; suffers from epilepsy
  • Dr. Mark Hall – Surgeon


Crichton was inspired to write the novel after reading The Ipcress File by Len Deighton while studying in England. Crichton says he was "terrifically impressed" by the book - "a lot of Andromeda is traceable to Ipcress in terms of trying to create an imaginary world using recogniseable techniques and real people."[3] He wrote the novel over three years.[3]


In 1971, The Andromeda Strain was the basis for the film of the same name directed by Robert Wise, and featuring Arthur Hill as Stone, James Olson as Hall, Kate Reid as Leavitt (changed to a female character, Ruth Leavitt), and David Wayne as Dutton (Burton in the novel).

In 2008, The Andromeda Strain was the basis for an eponymous miniseries executive-produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and Frank Darabont, and featuring Benjamin Bratt as Stone. Other characters' names and personalities were radically changed from the novel.

Musical adaptations

  • Klaus Schulze has a concert recording titled "Andromeda Strain"
  • In 1995 an independent band from Indianapolis called Odd Man and released a CD called Hypothesis[4]
  • In 1996, Apollo 440, an electronic music group from Liverpool, sampled "Lets go back to the rock and see it at 440" from the rock examination scene as the intro to Aint Talkin' 'Bout Dub.


Reviews for The Andromeda Strain were overwhelmingly positive, and the novel was an American bestseller, establishing Michael Crichton as a respected novelist and science-fiction writer.

The Pittsburgh Press said it was "Relentlessly suspenseful... A hair-raising experience."

Detroit Free Press called it "Hideously plausible suspense... [that] will glue you to your chair.'

Library Journal said The Andromeda Strain was "One of the most important novels of the year (1969)."

The New York Times's Christopher Lehmann-Haupt said "Tired out by a long day in the country, I was awake way past bedtime. My arms were numb from propping up my head. By turning from side to side, I had driven the cats from their place at the foot of the bed, and they were disgruntled. I was very likely disturbing my wife's sleep. But I was well into Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. And he had me convinced it was all really happening."[5]


  1. ^ Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg was convinced that "Jeremy Stone" was modeled strongly after himself, and wrote to Knopf Publishers to protest on June 25, 1969. See
  2. ^ In 1984, "the real Dr. Jeremy Stone" expressed complete surprise that Crichton had named the lead character for him.)
  3. ^ a b Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten): Michael Crichton By ISRAEL SHENKER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 June 1969: BR5
  4. ^ Odd Man page at CD Baby.
  5. ^ First Ballantine Books Edition: January 1993


Current editions should have corrected the "air soluble" vitamins in the scientists' food pills, the word "exterminating" instead of "extenuating" by Peter Jackson, going "into status" after a diabetic fit, and the "27.00" per cent fluorine in the green material printed in the 1970-1 Corgi editions.


  • Crichton, Michael (1969). The Andromeda Strain. ISBN 0-345-37848-2.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.