The Andromeda Evolution by Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson (book review).

November 12, 2019 | By | Reply More

Considering I reviewed ‘The Andromeda Strain’ film a couple months ago, I’ll assume you’ve watched it or acquired and read Michael Crichton’s book or both since then. ‘The Andromeda Evolution’ takes place 50 years later and the two alien variants, for want of a better name, AS-1 and the non-fatal AS-2 are still monitored for in case they return.

What is kept secret is its being studied on the Chinese Space Station until there’s an accident and it crashes back to Earth and grows again there. That being in Brazil and near the Amazon to be precise. Project Eternal Vigilance is monitoring the activity before calling up Project Wildfire once more and four scientists are sent to investigate. One of them, robotist James Stone, is the son of the late Jeremy Stone.

The style of Daniel H. Wilson’s book mirrors Michael Crichton’s original like a scrapbook of information and various people bringing the evidence forward intermixed with regular story techniques. What puzzles me is why didn’t the Andromeda Strain keep transforming rather than just stay in two variants, we see evidence of this within this book but you would think that would have happened earlier. Wilson does cover this so it isn’t as though it’s forgotten but does indicate that you need to think as you read this book.

So much of this story is spoiler and would mean your death to tell you. Then again, a lot of this book is deciding who your executioner is, let alone who to trust. Objectively, considering the age we live in today, you do have to wonder how select people get away with what they do, let alone passing security clearances.

So, I’ll continue with the areas that made me think. No matter how alien the Andromeda Strain is, there is no explanation of how it can grow without ingesting matter. Even when it kills animals, all that is left is blood residue, it doesn’t actually eat it. Yet, here in the Amazon, you have this tower and even a space elevator made of the stuff and nothing on its feeding habits to make it possible.

Granted it would be a bit difficult to get close enough to the virulent strain to observe but with the ‘safe’ versions at least some assessment could be given. Nuking it isn’t an option purely because it would spread across the world in the fall-out and is the most cited way it absorbs anything. The most effective way really would be to block it off from its food source.

The main human adversary in all of this appears to be a one person band which, when you consider what is built, does make it a bit questionable. All the nanotech in the world still takes time to build structures. The larger hardware and such still needs to be transported and surely some security service in the world would have spotted something odd going on, especially transporting the likes of spacesuits to Brazil.

I’ve probably said too much above spoiler in the past paragraph. Returning to the story. As an adventure, you’re kept to the pace of the story and not supposed to dwell too much on some of it. Although some of the loaded gun scenarios are put in place early, the dots aren’t always joined until they are needed. Some of the reveals are more convenience plotting to resolve a plot element without getting too complicated or creating any other distracting obstacles. Had there been different survivors from the Wildfire team, things could have turned out differently. The fact that most of these reveals are brought out when needed does suggest that although they might have been anticipated, they weren’t indicated to the reader until needed.

I do have to wonder with the creation of this book if there was one eye on turning it into a film at a future point. Crichton’s original novel was more laid back and clinical and I doubt if he saw such a future for it, let alone becoming a best-seller. Much of ‘The Andromeda Evolution’ has a touch of adventure about it with key twists to kick you to see if you’ve been paying attention to what has been going on before.

I should point out that there is nothing wrong with ‘Andromeda Evolution’ as a story but be careful if you do think beyond the main plot. To be what it really was considered in the original book does move it away from being a hard SF novel.

GF Willmetts

November 2019

(pub: HarperCollins. 366 page hardback. Price: $29.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1)

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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