This week I had the great pleasure of reading The Andromeda Strain for the first time. It also happened to be the first Michael Crichton I’ve read. I had no idea what I was in for.
The Andromeda Strain is the fictional tale of a team of scientists investigating an extremely dangerous extraterrestrial microorganism that can kill most humans within minutes. The reason I mention that this is a fictional story is that there was a moment when I was reading this that I believed this may have actually happened. The story was written so realistically that I had to put down the book at three in the morning and search the internet to assure myself this was fiction. If that isn’t the mark of great fiction I’m not sure what is. Crichton drew me into this world immediately and held me there until the lines of reality and fiction blurred.
The premise of the book is simple. What if our decontamination of space vehicles isn’t thorough enough? What would happen if alien bacteria found its way back to Earth? Humanity hasn’t evolved to cope with these bacteria, nor has the bacteria evolved with the safety of a human host in mind. Crichton suggests that this new organism would be enough to wipe out life on Earth. The Andromeda Strain, the code name for the new organism, immediately causes coagulation of the infected person’s blood. Within a minute you are no longer able to breathe as the blood in your lungs become solid. The book follows Dr. Stone and his team of three scientists as they search for anyway to stop the strain.
The book is gripping and will keep your attention through the ending. Unfortunately, the ending doesn’t exactly pay off. The book abruptly changes tones and the ending feels a little forced. This may detract from the whole work for some, but the journey to that ending was incredible. I’d recommend this book to anyone, especially if you have any interest in the fields of biology. This book was written when Crichton was a medical student at Harvard and he backs up a lot of the book with research.
Aside from The Andromeda Strain, I watched the new Godzilla movie this weekend. I’ve loved Godzilla since I was three years old and my dinosaur obsession evolved into kaiju obsession. I used to fast forward my dad’s old VHS tapes of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah to the final fight scenes and cheer on Godzilla. So I had really high expectations for this movie. I’m glad to say it surpassed (almost) all of them.
This movie tries to do something that some previous Godzilla movies have failed to do. It aims to develop an interesting human story to supplement the monster fights. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the basic story follows Lieutenant Ford and his efforts to get home to his family in San Francisco. Along the way he discovers that his mother was killed by a MUTO, a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, joins a group of explosives specialists on their trek to deliver a nuclear bomb SF, and eventually joins a team trying to disarm said bomb. For the most part, the story works. The film was lucky to have Bryan Cranston and I was happily surprised by Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performance.
My biggest gripe with the movie is that the human story goes on for too long. I appreciate what they were trying to do and I liked it for the most part, but I was there to see Godzilla. I would have loved to see more of Godzilla fighting the MUTOs. Every scene that Godzilla was in was my favorite scene. When he wasn’t on screen I was just waiting for him to come back. His new roar is spectacular, especially in IMAX. While the design is much bulkier than I’m used to, it works in this universe. My Godzilla obsession has been rekindled and I’m hungry for the new merchandise.
Before seeing the movie, I read the prequel comic Godzilla: Awakening. This book gives some supplemental information, but for the most part it’s unnecessary. The movie explains everything you need to know. It tries to describe forty years of history in eighty pages, so naturally everything feels rushed. The cover is beautiful, but that alone can’t justify the twenty dollar price point. Unless you’re a huge Godzilla fan or collector, I would recommend saving that money and using it to upgrade your movie tickets to IMAX. You’ll be glad you did.
Anyway, if you want to talk about how awesome Godzilla is (or the Mothra easter egg) or make fun of me for believing The Andromeda Strain was a true story, feel free to message me or tweet me @left4turtle.