andromedastrainThis week’s Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s look at great science fiction of the past, we’re taking a look at the classic book and its movie adaptation, ‘The Andromeda Strain’.

The Andromeda Strain’ was first published in 1969, making the New York Times Bestseller list and establishing Michael Crichton as . . . well . . . Michael Crichton.

The film version was released in 1971 and was directed by Robert Wise. (If your two passions are science fiction and show tunes, clearly you adore the films of Robert Wise. As a matter of fact, if Wise had directed a film involving ‘West Side Story’ as told by robots, the world would be a perfect place.)

The film was lauded for being close to the novel and was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing.

‘The Andromeda Strain’ stars Arthur Hill, James Olson, David Wayne and Kate Reid. The film includes some phenomenal special effects (you know, for the 70’s) created by the masterful Douglas Trumbull. Trumbull worked on many sci fi classics including ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture‘, and last week’s TBT, ‘Blade Runner‘.

Andromeda Strain

The story is crafted like you just opened your own personal manilla folder filled with top-secret files. It documents the four scariest days in the history of extraterrestrial biological infestations. We learn that a military satellite has returned to Earth in Piedmont, New Mexico, only to result in the entire population of Piedmont dying. Apparently, the satellite, programmed to search for extraterrestrial life for a project called Scoop, brought back a deadly alien organism that’s assigned the code name, Andromeda.

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An elite team of scientists assemble a la the Avengers to study Andromeda at a secret underground laboratory in Nevada known as Wildfire. Wildfire is so contaniment-free, it initially seems like a germophobe’s greatest fantasy. However, the question remains: Is Wildfire prepared for all kinds of contamination, including that of an extraterrestrial strain? Should the laboratory become contaminated, it’s equipped with a device for atomic self-destruct.

As I write this, it’s clear to me that anyone with any sense of story structure can imagine what will inevitably happen, but the story still holds and is still extremely thrilling. We experience these scientists put the puzzle pieces together and agonize over their choices as a biological nightmare unfolds. You’re on the edge of your seat whether you watch or read ‘The Andromeda Strain’. If you’re looking to expand your hard science fiction collection, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ is a must.

Have you seen or read ‘The Andromeda Strain’? Do you prefer the book or the movie?