Crichton, Michael: The Andromeda Strain
(researched by Brian Van Reet)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Michael Crichton. The Andromeda Strain: a novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969. Copyright 1969 by Centesis Corporation Parallel Editions: A Canadian edition was published simultaneously by Random House
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition was published in trade cloth binding with dustjacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
152 leaves Brackets denote unnumbered pages. pp. [i-viii] [1-9] 10-12 [13] 14-16 [17] 18-29 [30] 31-32 [33-35] 36-60 [61] 62-69 [70] 71-85 [86] 87-88 [89] 90-94 [95] 96-112 [113] 114-123 [124-127] 128-143 [144] 145-148 [149] 150-164 [165] 166-175 [176] 177-184 [185] 186-190 [191] 192-196 [197] 198-209 [210] 211-215 [216-219] 220-236 [237] 238-242 [243] 244-250 [251] 252-259 [260] 261-267 [268] 269-273 [274] 275-278 [279] 280-284 [285-287] 288-289 [290] 291 [292] 293-295 [296]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The only introductory material is a brief fictitious acknowledgements section, written by the author.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The book is illustrated throughout by mock computer printouts, along with two photographs of actual line drawings. The only illustrations listed here are those using symbols, or some sort of imaging other than strict textual representation, and therefore the majority of the mock computer printouts are omitted, as they are, strictly speaking, not illustrations. The mock computer printouts including symbols are included in this catalog. Computer generated maps on p. 64,65,66. No illustration credits given. Textual information- ìA note on the output maps, these three maps are intended as examples of the staging of computerbase output mapping. The first map is relatively standard, with the addition of computer coordinates around population centers and other important areas.î-p. 64 ìThe second map has been weighed to account for wind and population factors, and is consequently distorted.î-p. 65 ìThe third map is a computer projection of the effects of wind and population in a specific scenario.î ñp. 66 Mock computer outputs on pp. 102, 105, 170, [171], 172, 245. No illustration credits given. Black and white photograph of a line drawing on p. 227. Illustration credits given to Jeremy Stone (fict.), photographic credits to Project Wildfire (fict.). Textual information- ìEarly Sketch by Jeremy Stone of hexagonal Andromeda configuration. Photo courtesy of Project Wildfire.î Black and white photograph of a line drawing on p. 252. Photo credits given to Project Wildfire (fict.). Textual information- ìElectron-density mapping of Andromeda structure as derived from micrographic studies. It was this mapping which disclosed activity variations within an otherwise uniform structure. Photo courtesy of Project Wildfire.î Graph labeled ìAcidity of Medium as Log H-Ion concentrationî, p.272.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The page height and width are 208mm and 132mm, respectively. The text height and width are 159mm and 103mm, respectively. The book is easily readable, with wide margins and relatively large type. The size of the type is 90mm per 20 lines of type. The typeface is noted on the last page of the book as being Electra, a typeface designed by W.A. Dwiggins.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book seems to be printed on stiff wove paper with a slightly granulated texture. The paper is holding up well over time, although there is a slight degree of discoloration. The pages are cleanly cut, and are sewn into the spine. The examined copy is preserved very well. There are no major stains or tears in either the book itself or the dust jacket.
11 Description of binding(s)
A dust jacket is present. The binding is white cloth (slightly discolored), with a black pasteboard covering the majority of the front and back covers (the 3cm nearest to the spine on the front and back covers, as well as the spine itself, are the only areas where the white cloth binding is visible). The stamping on the spine, as well as the front and back covers, is black. The endpapers are not illustrated, and are black. Transcription of the front cover- 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 Transcription of the spine- THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN | MICHAEL CRICHTON | ALFRED*A*KNOPF Transcription of the back- BORZOI | [picture of leaping dog] | BOOKS
12 Transcription of title page
Transcription of title page Recto- THE | ANDROMEDA | STRAIN | MICHAEL | CRICHTON | ALFRED A. KNOPF | NEW YORK [ picture of leaping dog] 1969 Verso- THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK | PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC., | FIRST EDITION | COPYRIGHT 1969 by Centesis Corporation | All rights reserved under International and | Pan-American Copyright Conventions. | Published in the United States | by Alfred Knopf, Inc., New York, | and simultaneously in Canada by Random House | of Canada Limited, Toronto. | Distributed by Random House, Inc., New York. | Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: G9-14731 | Manufactured in the United States of America
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Assumably held by author. WorldCat was searched for this information, but it could not be found.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Notes on copy-specific information- Call number of the copy used for this description- Taylor 1969 .C64 A54 There is evidence of a sticker having been removed from the inside of the front cover. A library sticker on the inside of the back cover identifies the book as belonging to the University of Virginiaís rare book collection. Notes on sources used - A first edition copy of the book was used for all physical descriptions. Gaskellís A New Introduction to Bibliography was used for stylistic reference. WorldCat was searched to find the manuscriptís location, but it could not be found.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
No other editions than the first have been published by Afred A. Knopf, Inc. source- "WorldCat" database, amazon.com
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Twenty-four impressions of the first edition have been published as of June 1998, including editions published in 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1998. source: Title page of a twenty-fourth edition copy of The Andromeda Strain, WorldCat
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Arrow (London), 1993- status unknown St. Albans, 1980- status unknown Ballantine Publishing Group, 1992, 1993 1997- in print as of Sept. 1999 Buccaneer Books, Inc., 1991- in print as of Sept. 1999 Century (London), 1993- status unknown Chivers North America, 1994- in print as of Sept. 1999 Corgi Books (London), 1970- status unknown Dell Publishing, 1970, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1987- out of print as of Sept. 1999 Eagle Large Print, 1994- status unknown Firecrest, 1989- status unkown Ulversoft Large Print Books, 1997- in print as of Sept. 1999 sources: "Books in Print" database, "WorldCat" database
6 Last date in print?
The book is still in print as of Sept. 1999. source: "Books in Print" database
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
The last available sales and printing figures were: 117,500 copies in print as of January 19,1970 60,000 copies sold as of August 4, 1969 source: Publisher's weekly
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Chronological Listing of Printings and Sales Figures First published on May 26, 1969 45,000 copies printed by June 23, 1969 60,000 copies in print by July 21,1969 55,000 copies sold by July 28, 1969 60,000 copies sold by August 4, 1969 (8,000 copies sold during Moon Week) 75,000 copies in print as of August 18, 1969 90,000 copies printed by September 8, 1969 100,000 copies printed by September 22,1969 Information from Sept. 22, 1969 to Jan 1970 was unavailable to the researcher, but exists and will be found and updated at a later time. 117,500 copies in print by January 19, 1970
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
no advertising copy could be found The sample advertisement below is a movie poster for the 1971 film. sources checked: New York Times Book Review, Publisher's Weekly, IMDb
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A21019991011184731.jpg
11 Other promotion
Interestingly, the release of the book coincided nicely with the first moon landings of Apollo 11, and given the subject matter of the book, this boosted sales considerably. The August 4, 1969 edition of Publisher's Weekly states that "Sold 8,000 copies during moon week," and the issue from the following week states "Interest continues high. Display it with news stories about the moon rockets."
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
A 35mm Panavision film version of the novel was released in 1971 by Universal Pictures. The film rights were bought for $250,000. The screenplay was written by Nelson Gidding, and the film was directed by Robert Wise. Random House released an abridged audio version in 1993, and a full audio version in 1994 on audio cassettes. Source: "WorldCat" database, Internet Movie Database (IMDb), New York Times Review of Books
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
O enigma de Andr?omeda, Publication Info : Rio de Janeiro : Editora Rocco, c1998 (Portugese) T∞ien wai ping chËun, Publication info: T∞ai-pei shih : Ch∞ing chou ch∞u pan she, 1996 (Chinese) Uju pairÊosÊu, Edition: 880-02 Ch∞op∞an, Publication info: SÊoul T∞ÊukpyÊolsi : K∞Êunnamu, 1995 (Korean) "Andromeda" znaczy ?smier?c, Edition: Wyd. 2, Publication info: Warszawa : Amber, 1996 1992 (Polish) T∞ien wai hsi chËun, Publication info: Hsiang-kang : Po i ch∞u pan chi t∞uan yu hsien kung ssu, 1995 (Chinese) Andromeda, Edition: 1. ed. in Gli elefanti, Publication info: Milano : Garzanti, 1992 (Italian) Shtamm "Andromeda" : sbornik nauchno-fantasticheskikh proizvedenii perevod s angliiskogo, Publication info: Moskva : "Mir", 1991 (Russian) La amenaza de Andromeda, Publication info: Barcelona : Ediciones B 1992 (Spanish/Spain) Andromeda, Publication info: Stuttgart : Deutscher BËucherbund, 1969 (German) La amenaza de Andromeda, Publication info: M?exico : Origen/Planeta, 1985 (Spanish/Mexico) AndÊuromeda sÊut∞Êurein, Edition: 880-02 Che 1-p∞an, Publication info: SÊoul T∞ÊukpyÊolsi : MyÊongjisa, 1993 (Korean) La amenaza de Andromeda, Publication info: Barcelona : Planeta/Bruguera :Distribuci?on, R. B. A., 1984 (Spanish/Spain) Andoromeda byÂogentai, Publication info: TÂokyÂo : Hayakawa ShobÂo, 1970 (Japanese) La amenaza de Andr?omeda, Publication info: Barcelona : C?irculo de Lectores, 1972 1969 (Spanish/Spain) [The Andromeda strain], Publication info: Tel Aviv : Boostan Mod Enterprises, 1974 1969 (Hebrew) La amenaza de Andr?omeda, Publication info: Barcelona : Bruguera, 1971 (Spanish/Spain) Source: WorldCat database
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A sources checked: WorldCat, Publisher's Weekly, New York Times Review of Books
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A sources checked: WorldCat database, amazon.com
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Please see the entry for The Great Train Robbery for a general biography of Michael Crichton. After Michael Crichton graduated Harvard College, he was awarded a $3,000 travel fellowship, which he used to go to England. While teaching anthropology at Cambridge, Crichton read The Ipcress File, which he credits as a major source of inspiration for The Andromeda Strain. The stipulations in Crichton's fellowship forbade him to stay in one place for more than two months, so he traveled throughout Europe, getting married along the way. Crichton wrote a self-described "potboiler set in Cannes and Monaco" in eleven days, published as Scratch One under the name John Lange. Crichton published other popular novels, which he has called "competition for in flight movies" under various pseudonyms after Scratch One, including A Case of Need, which was awarded the Edgar by The Mystery Writers of America as the best mystery of 1968. In his fourth year of medical school, Crichton published the novel that would bring him general acclaim as a best-selling writer, The Andromeda Strain. While many of Crichton's earlier works had been written in a matter of days, Crichton claims that "the idea (for The Andromeda Strain) was in my mind for at least three years, and I was trying to write it for a year and a half, collecting newspaper clippings and research articles, and writing draft after draft. Every draft was awful." The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in May of 1969, and rose quickly to best-selling status. The book was rising to prominence at approximately the same time the first Apollo mission went to the moon, and this boosted sales considerably, according to clips from the Publisher's Weekly of Aug. 4 and August 8, which state, respectively, "Sold 8,000 copies during moon week," and "Interest continues high. Display it with news stories about the moon rockets." The novel was selected as a Book-of-the-Month-Club co-selection for June of 1969, and the film version of the book was released in 1971, the rights of which were sold by Crichton to Universal for $250,000. Crichton did not write the screenplay for the film. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the time period in Crichton's life surrounding the publication of The Andromeda Strain was the sheer amount he was doing. A listing of things Crichton accomplished in the six months previous to the publication of The Andromeda Strain appeared in The New York Times of June 8, 1969, including: writing an original screenplay entitled "Morton's Rum" (also sold to Universal), fulfilling two-thirds of a contract for three original paperbacks, writing a prospectus for a TV series, writing a two hour pilot show, doing non-fiction work for a study of Massachusetts General Hospital, writing magazine articles, and starting two novels and four screen plays. In the same New York Times article, Crichton gave his immediate future plans as moving to California with his wife after his graduation from medical school, and then working on a joint novel with his nineteen year old brother Douglas. Crichton described the novel as being about "youth and drugs." Sources: IMDb; June 8, 1969 New York Times; Aug. 4 & Aug. 8, 1969 Publisher's Weekly
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
A multitude of reviews (mostly favorable) of The Andromeda Strain appeared in both popular and academic publications in the year immediately following the book's publication. While reviewers hesitated to call The Andromeda Strain a work of literary "art", most realized that the book represented something new and innovative in the field of science fiction and fiction as a whole, and that it was an important work, worthy of consideration and reading. A favorable review in the June 8 1969 edition of the New York TImes Review of Books expresses this when it states, "the author continually presses his story for meanings. What he writes is knowledge fiction. His book is both a backward look to the 19th century realistic novel (written to transmit social and industrial information) and a projection, I suspect, into the future, when the novel will organize and synthesize the findings of technology and science. As art, The Andromeda Strain lacks human heat. As craft, it's pure stainless steel." The June 15, 1969 edition of Harper's states, "His book should be read by everyone who is concerned with the future of the space age and it is highly recommended for all future fiction collections. It must be considered one of the most important novels of the year." A disturbed Alex Comfort recognized that The Andromeda Strain represented a drastic change in the genre of science fiction when, in the June 15, 1969 edition of Best Sellers , he states that, "Science fiction has undergone an unwelcome change. It used to minister to our need for prophecy, now it ministers to our need for fear...This is mere scientific pornography. We run the risk of dying titillated, through the leakage of fear and fantasy into science and back." A comprehensive list of contemporary reviews includes: Books and Bookmen- v15- Dec. 1969- p33 Booklist- v66- Sep. 15 1969-p 105 Best Sellers- v29 June 15 1969- p105 Book World- v3 June 8 1969- p4 Book World- v3 Dec 7 1969- p8 Book World- v4 June 21 1970 p13 Catholic Library World- v41 Nov. 1969- p194 Christian Science Monitor- v61 June 26 1969- p7 Catholic World- v210- Nov. 1969- p96 Commonweal- v90 Aug. 8 1969- p493 Harper's Magazine- v239 Aug. 1969- p 97 Kirkus Reviews- v37 April 1 1969- p402 Kirkus Reviews- v37- April 15 1969- p465 Library Journal- v94- July 1969- p2686 Library Journal- v94 Dec. 25 1969- p4584 Life- v66 May 30 1969- p15 Listener- v82 Sep. 25 1969- p427 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction- v37 Nov. 1969- p47 National Observer- v8 July 14 1969- p17 Newsweek- v73 May 26, 1969- p13 New York TImes- v118 May 30 1969- p25 New York Times Book Review- June 8 1969- p4 Observer (London)- Oct. 5 1969- p34 Publisher's Weekly- v195 April 28 1969- p82 Publisher's Weekly- v197- April 13 1970- p87 Saturday Review- v52- June 28 1969- p29 Saturday Review- v53 September 26 1970- p32 Times Literary Supplement- October 16 1969- p1215 Top of the News- v26 Nov. 1969- p85 Time- v93 June 6 1969- p112 Wall Street Journal- v174- July 1 1969- p14
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
A multitude of reviews (mostly favorable) of The Andromeda Strain appeared in both popular and academic publications in the year immediately following the book's publication. While reviewers hesitated to call The Andromeda Strain a work of literary "art", most realized that the book represented something new and innovative in the field of science fiction and fiction as a whole, and that it was an important work, worthy of consideration and reading. A favorable review in the June 8 1969 edition of the New York TImes Review of Books expresses this when it states, "the author continually presses his story for meanings. What he writes is knowledge fiction. His book is both a backward look to the 19th century realistic novel (written to transmit social and industrial information) and a projection, I suspect, into the future, when the novel will organize and synthesize the findings of technology and science. As art, The Andromeda Strain lacks human heat. As craft, it's pure stainless steel." The June 15, 1969 edition of Harper's states, "His book should be read by everyone who is concerned with the future of the space age and it is highly recommended for all future fiction collections. It must be considered one of the most important novels of the year." A disturbed Alex Comfort recognized that The Andromeda Strain represented a drastic change in the genre of science fiction when, in the June 15, 1969 edition of Best Sellers , he states that, "Science fiction has undergone an unwelcome change. It used to minister to our need for prophecy, now it ministers to our need for fear...This is mere scientific pornography. We run the risk of dying titillated, through the leakage of fear and fantasy into science and back." A comprehensive list of contemporary reviews includes: Books and Bookmen- v15- Dec. 1969- p33 Booklist- v66- Sep. 15 1969-p 105 Best Sellers- v29 June 15 1969- p105 Book World- v3 June 8 1969- p4 Book World- v3 Dec 7 1969- p8 Book World- v4 June 21 1970 p13 Catholic Library World- v41 Nov. 1969- p194 Christian Science Monitor- v61 June 26 1969- p7 Catholic World- v210- Nov. 1969- p96 Commonweal- v90 Aug. 8 1969- p493 Harper's Magazine- v239 Aug. 1969- p 97 Kirkus Reviews- v37 April 1 1969- p402 Kirkus Reviews- v37- April 15 1969- p465 Library Journal- v94- July 1969- p2686 Library Journal- v94 Dec. 25 1969- p4584 Life- v66 May 30 1969- p15 Listener- v82 Sep. 25 1969- p427 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction- v37 Nov. 1969- p47 National Observer- v8 July 14 1969- p17 Newsweek- v73 May 26, 1969- p13 New York TImes- v118 May 30 1969- p25 New York Times Book Review- June 8 1969- p4 Observer (London)- Oct. 5 1969- p34 Publisher's Weekly- v195 April 28 1969- p82 Publisher's Weekly- v197- April 13 1970- p87 Saturday Review- v52- June 28 1969- p29 Saturday Review- v53 September 26 1970- p32 Times Literary Supplement- October 16 1969- p1215 Top of the News- v26 Nov. 1969- p85 Time- v93 June 6 1969- p112 Wall Street Journal- v174- July 1 1969- p14
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The Andromeda Strain is Michael Crichton's story of man's intrusion into space gone horribly wrong, when a probe sent into the upper atmosphere brings back with it a deadly plague that comes frighteningly close to infecting mankind. The narrative is presented as if it were truth, with a title page that is made to look like the front page of a classified document, and a fictitious acknowledgements section that states in its first sentence, "This book recounts the five day history of a major America scientific crisis." Nowhere does Crichton break the narrative dream in which he submerses the reader from the beginning: the experience of being involved in a crisis of immense proportions. Alexander Cook states that The Andromeda Strain "reads like a thoroughly scientific report on which all human life depends". The work is complete with illustrations, graphs, fictitious letters from high ranking officials, crude computer printouts, charts, maps, and the like, all used by Crichton in order to drive the reader further into the reality of the scenario that he has created. The language used by Crichton reads almost like a lab manual in places, often including such lengthy stretches of scientific explanation as, "The plastic was cured in a special high-speed processing unit, but it would still take five hours to harden to proper consistency. The curing room would maintain a constant temperature of 61 degrees Celsius, with a relative humidity of 10 per cent. Once the plastic was hardened, he would scrape it away, and then flake off a small bit of green with a microtome. This would go into the electron microscope. The flake would have to be the right thickness and size, a small round shaving 1500 angstroms in depth, no more" (Crichton 203). This sort of minutia would be out of place in most bestsellers, but it fits perfectly in Crichton's chosen format of the scientific report. Crichton's medical degree and Harvard education certainly add to the joy of reading the work, the reader feels as through he is being let in on privileged scientific information, and as he accepts Crichton's authorial voice that is so steeped in the logic and rhetoric of science, the reader is inevitably sucked deeper and deeper into the narrative dream, until the line between actual science and science fiction are almost indistinguishable. Most reviewers realized that Crichton's hard driving, almost inseparable blend of science fact and science fiction represented a dramatic change for the genre of science fiction, and for best-selling fiction in general. A review of the book in the June 8, 1969 edition of The New York Times Review of Books declares, "Crichton's book is both a backwards look to the 19th century realistic novel (written to transmit social and industrial information) and a projection, I suspect, into the future, when the novel will organize and synthesize the findings of technology and science". A slightly less enthusiastic Alex Comfort writes that, "Science fiction has undergone an unwelcome change. It used to minister to our need for prophecy; now it ministers to our need for fear. The better Crichton tells his tale?the more upsetting it is to a concerned scientist?(the author) titillates and scares. This is mere scientific pornography. We run a real risk of dying titillated, through the leakage of fear and fantasy into science and back. If I am being over-serious about an entertainment, and am failing to do justice to a very skillful and well-observed piece of fake actuality it is because the self-destruct mechanism bothers me. Apathy and mental disorder could make our science into just that, and cosmic catastrophe scares, however cleverly done, seem to belong to that matrix of thinking" (Comfort 4). Comfort, although he is very critical of the novel, manages to bring up several key points that are important to understanding the popularity of the book. Comfort is correct when he calls The Andromeda Strain a piece of "fake actuality" that "titillates and scares". The "scare" factor was increased tenfold by virtue of the fact that the book was published at around the same time that the Apollo 11 mission first put mankind on the moon. The novel could have appeared on the scene at no better time than the summer of the first Apollo mission. The extraordinary amount of media attention focused on the moon mission primed the American public for a work such as The Andromeda Strain , in which the public's newfound interest in the possibilities of space was transformed by a skillful author into fear and apprehension, making for riveting entertainment. M.B. Wenger states that, "( The Andromeda Strain ) should be read by anyone concerned with the future of the space age," making clear the relationship between the book's publication and the moon landings that were contemporary to it. It is interesting that Wenger phrases his praise of the book in this manner. Wenger does not say that the book should be read by those concerned with the future of science fiction, or even with the future of fiction's changing role in the space age. Wenger instead relates the book directly to the actual events of the space age, lifting the novel out of its fictional context and placing the work directly in the realm of fact. Crichton's authorial voice as a scientific researcher relating the events of a catastrophe is brought off so well that the book seems to be fictional only in the sense that its events haven't happened yet. Wenger goes on to say, "When any science fiction can be read with such realism, there is no longer the hint of fiction- but of truth. The author has developed the storyline with a great deal of research and understanding of his subject" (Wenger 2485). If there is still any doubt as to whether the events contemporary to The Andromeda Strain 's publication (namely the Apollo 11 mission) helped to catapult the book to best-selling status, one need only search the trade journals of the time. Retailers were directly advised by the August 11 issue of Publisher's Weekly that, "Interest continues high. Display with news stories of the moon rockets." This is clearly an assumption (and a right one, judging from the book's success) that readers interested in news stories about the Apollo mission would also be interested in reading The Andromeda Strain . The connection between the public interest in both the moon landing and The Andromeda Strain was clearly a determinate factor in the book's becoming a best seller. The plot of the book is so mired in the actual events and fears of the early space age that it is almost impossible to isolate one without talking about the other, but in terms of pure aesthetic value, the book is sometimes lacking. Arthur Cooper is correct in his opinion that, "like most science fiction writers, he (Crichton) fails to create characters of human dimension, he is concerned with moral values, and makes graphic the dangers of exploiting science for such goals as the perfection of chemical and biological warfare techniques" (Cooper 125). The characters of The Andromeda Strain are not particularly memorable, and they sometimes seem to be little more than mouthpieces through which Crichton tells the story. An author of a June 8, 1969 New York Times Review of Books article expresses the lack of depth of characterization in the work when he states, "As art, The Andromeda Strain lacks human heat." By far, the most interesting character in the novel is the authorial voice itself, the omnipresent force that drives the story forward. Most bestsellers contain at least one character that captivates the reader, and it could be argued that in The Andromeda Strain this character is not to be found in the novel itself, but in the form of Crichton himself. Alongside the 1969 New York Times Review of Books review of the novel is present an equal sized blurb about Crichton's life, detailing his accomplishments. Who could not be captivated by the young graduate of Harvard Medical School, who paid his tuition by writing thrillers (sometimes in a matter of days) under an assumed name? The book's popularity was certainly not hurt by its having as an author a young, striking (Crichton is 6'9"), brilliant man who could churn out thrilling works of fiction seemingly at will. The implicit concern with the dangers of scientific developments mentioned by Cooper is what elevates the work above, in Comfort's terms, "scientific pornography". The Andromeda Strain 's purpose is not as shallow as mere titillation; it is a prophetic warning of what could be. If Crichton titillates and scares, it is only to warn mankind of the dangerous implications of modern scientific developments. The book cannot be dismissed as mere pornography, designed to entertain the masses through fear, as it takes on these weighty moral and ethical issues. As a bestseller, The Andromeda Strain demonstrates how effective relating the subject matter of a novel to contemporary events can be in boosting sales and popularity. There could be no Andromeda Strain without the backdrop of the space age and modern science. It is simply not the kind of novel that can be set in a variety of different backdrops and still work. Its characters are not enduring enough, and the plot is so linked to events of a particular time as to be inseparable. This being said, it is impossible to know if The Andromeda Strain would have still reached best-selling status without the moon landing occurring only months after its publication, but it is a safe assumption to say that the Apollo Mission only helped sales. The combination of Crichton's riveting new blend of science and fiction (what The New York Times article calls "knowledge fiction"), Crichton's unique personal story and charisma, and the temporal proximity of the publication of the novel to the Apollo 11 moon landing helped to send The Andromeda Strain to the top of the best-sellers lists.
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