'The Andromeda Evolution' by Daniel H. Wilson: A Book Review
The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson is a sequel to the much-loved Michael Crichton novel The Andromeda Strain from 1969. The Andromeda Strain focussed on the small town of Piedmont, Arizona, in the aftermath of a satellite crashing to Earth. Unfortunately, the satellite brought a contaminant with it causing the deaths of virtually the entire town's population. Project Wildfire is initiated whereby a group of top scientists led by Dr. Jeremy Stone are brought in to contain the situation and ultimately learn more about the contaminant which they call the Andromeda Strain.
Now 50 years later, and a decade after Crichton's untimely death, Wilson continues the story as the Andromeda strain returns and Project Wildfire is reactivated with a new generation of scientists coming together to protect the Earth from this mysterious threat.
About the Authors
Michael Crichton (1942 - 2008)
One of the most successful writers of all time, Michael Crichton's books have sold more than 200 million copies world-wide and spawned numerous feature films and television adaptations. His work usually focussed on science-fiction thrillers and regularly featured scientific diagrams, footnotes and even bibliographies of documents, reports and journals referred to during the novel. Some of these would be real, legitimate documents, but Crichton was also a master of the 'false document', referring to fictional studies and journals, some of which were even credited to the characters within the novels.
Crichton's list of bestselling novels includes Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World, Sphere, Disclosure, Prey, State of Fear and Next. He also created the hit TV show ER which, along with Jurassic Park and Disclosure, gave him the unique distinction in 1994 of simultaneously having the number 1 TV show, film and book.
Crichton died of lymphoma in 2008.
Daniel H. Wilson
Daniel H. Wilson is a robotics engineer and the author of the bestselling Robopocalypse and Robogenesis, as well as various other novels, short stories and works of non-fiction. He is also a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
"The Andromeda Evolution" Review
I love Michael Crichton's novels. The way he mixes science and mathematics into a thrilling narrative, usually with an over-arching sense of doom and human self-destruction, really grabs me. Jurassic Park especially, has been one of my favourite books since I was a child. (Dinosaurs and maths, what more could I want?)
I picked up The Andromeda Evolution as the cover has 'Michael Crichton' written in large font across the front. Upon further inspection, I discovered that Crichton's posthumous involvement went only as far as having written The Andromeda Strain back in the Sixties and that this is a sequel to that story by another author. I'd never heard of Daniel H. Wilson before, but a quick look through the book seemed to suggest that he had stayed faithful to the Crichton style of storytelling, so I looked forward to having a read. I was not disappointed.
Wilson does an absolutely fantastic job of replicating Crichton's style, not just in terms of the prose and story-telling, but also the 'False Document' format, treating the story as something that actually happened and can be backed up by the documents in the bibliography. From the very first page, where Wilson explains that this story is a reconstruction of a top-secret, near-extinction level crisis and he starts talking about the 'capabilities and the limits of scientific progress' you know that you're in Crichton's world.
The novel is broken up into the days of the mission with Day 0 being 'Contact' followed by the 5 days of the involvement of the Project Wildfire scientists. This style again sucks you into believing that this is a genuine recreation of actual events.
The story begins with Project Eternal Vigilance, a US military project set up in the wake of the original Andromeda incident from the first novel. An anomaly has been detected in the depths of the Amazon rain forest, where a terrain mapping drone has discovered a large mass of unknown matter and the chemical signature of the Andromeda particle.
A new Project Wildfire crew of disparate scientists from around the world, including the son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from the first Andromeda incident, is brought together and sent deep into the Amazon to reach the anomaly and work out how to stop it. If they can't figure out a way, then this could be the end of life as we know it.
From the very beginning, Wilson manages to maintain the tension and pace of the story. Whether he's focussing on the scientific issues being faced by the Wildfire team, the political ramifications facing their superiors who have organised the mission or the physical dangers faced by the group in the jungle, the story rattles along.
There's a fair share of cliffhangers and I found it extremely difficult to put the book down at the end of a lot of the chapters. Wilson also employs that very Crichton-like technique of using near-spoilers to keep you intrigued and to maintain the danger levels of the story. For example, the death of one character at the end of a chapter is followed by the sentence 'Unfortunately, he would not be the last.' I found this technique an interesting way of keeping the tension up as it serves to remind you that the characters are not out of danger yet and leaves you anxious as you wait to find out which of the remaining characters isn't going to make it.
The characters in this novel are also the usual Crichton selection. The Wildfire team particularly, with their vastly different areas of scientific expertise, countries of origin and allegiances, continue to set up vast discussions over each situation as it occurs, feeding the reader the relevant science and information without being too obvious. As with most Crichton thrillers, the characters have enough intrigue and interesting aspects to them, that a full depth to their personalities isn't required; these are characters ready-made to step into a movie and it works.
My only slight criticism of this novel is that it can get a little silly and unbelievable with some of the extreme action and ideas generated, especially as the book reaches its climax. It wasn't extreme enough to bring me out of the book, but I suspect it might be for those readers not usually into the science-fiction thriller genre.
Overall, I found The Andromeda Evolution to be an incredibly fun book which was very difficult to put down and contained some very interesting scientific ideas. It definitely lives up to the Michael Crichton name and I would highly recommend it for any of his fans. For those readers who are new to Crichton, I would recommend other Crichton novels first, Jurassic Park or the original The Andromeda Strain for example, but this book is still one that most would enjoy.
The Andromeda Evolution on Amazon
Favourite Michael Crichton Book
What's Your Favourite Michael Crichton Book?
Questions & Answers
© 2020 David