The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

This book made a massive impact on me when I first read it at the age of twelve or thirteen. It hardly read like fiction, given Crichton’s peppering of the book with facsimile documents, renderings of computer displays, and scientifically plausible dialogue (and, truth to tell, info-dumps). And four pages of referenced scientific papers! At the same time, it latched onto the zeitgeist of James Bond and Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’, with secret laboratories concealed under agricultural research stations and talk of nuclear weapons and biowar.

Today, it still reads as well as it ever did, though that does mean it reads a bit like a government report at times. It is also very much a Cold War product, even though it isn’t actually about the Cold War; but it has the Cold War mindset. Read this and be transported back to the 1960s, that era of great hope alternating with the threat of terrible annihilation.

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