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Andromeda Strain
Published in 1969
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Published in 1992
by Ballantine Books
285 pages.

The United States government stands warned that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.

When a probe satellite falls to the earth two years later, and lands in a desolate area of northeastern Arizona, the bodies that lie heaped and flung across the ground, have faces locked in frozen surprise. The terror has begun....

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Note From Michael
I thought THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN was a great title, but for many years I had no book to go with it. I worked on draft after draft, never completing one, obsessing about the project. And all because I was so fond of the title I couldn't abandon it.

The story itself was originally suggested by a footnote in George Gaylord Simpson's scholarly work THE MAJOR FEATURES OF EVOLUTION. Simpson inserted an uncharacteristically lighthearted footnote saying that organisms in the upper atmosphere had never been used by science-fiction writers to make a story.

I set out to do that.

Eventually I finished a whole draft and sent it to my new editor, Bob Gottleib, at Knopf. Bob said he would not even consider publishing it unless I was willing to completely rewrite it from beginning to end. I was twenty-five at the time, and Bob was only in his early thirties, but he had a very large reputation as an editor because he had edited CATCH 22. So I gulped, and said I would rewrite it according to his directions.

Bob said that the novel should read like a New Yorker profile, that it should be absolutely convincing. I wasn't really sure what that meant; I had read New Yorker profiles and found they varied widely. But he started me thinking about what THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN would look like, if the story were true. Where would I have gotten the information? How much I would know? And in what style would I write it, if it were true? I began to look at science non-fiction writing by people like Walter Sullivan, who wrote for the New York Times. And I began to imitate that factual, non-fiction writing style. It yielded a very cold, detached book that was also weirdly convincing.

After I sent Bob Gottlieb the rewritten manuscript, he called up and said I had done very good work, and therefore I only had to write half of it all over again. I gulped, and said I would. And after that, he would just call me every few days: rewrite the beginning of this chapter. Redo this description. This character isn't right; fix it. Add a chapter here. And on, and on. I began to feel persecuted by these demands, which seemed interminable, and increasingly nit-picking. (I did not yet know how rare good editing is.)

When the book was published, lots of people thought it was true. It was pretty interesting. When Bob Wise set out to make the movie, his researchers assumed that everything was true, too, so they went out and found all the things the book talked about — the underground laboratory, the computer programs, the biometrics security. After a while I stopped telling people that I had made it all up, because it turned out that it was based on true things. But I didn't know that when I was writing the book.

Andromeda Strain
Produced by: Universal Pictures
Directed by: Robert Wise
Written by: Nelson Gidding
Based on a novel by: Michael Crichton
Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone
David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton
James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall
Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt
Originally Released: 1971
Academy Awards: Best Art Direction-Set Direction,Best Film Editing
Runtime: 131 minutes

When a satellite falls to earth near a remote New Mexico village, the recovery team finds everyone in the area dead except an infant and an old derelict. The survivors are brought to a five-story underground lab where a team of scientists attempts to determine the nature of the deadly microbe before it starts a world-wide epidemic.

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