The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton – 1969
I have read several novels by Michael Crichton – from his biggest successes to some of his lesser known work – and he made a career out of following a tried and tested formula when it comes to the layout of the science in his books. It’s a Michael Crichton trademark, and it all started with The Andromeda Strain, the first novel published under his own name.
Charts, diagrams, equations. You can probably skip a lot of it if you want, and cut out pages of text for your efforts. You won’t miss much in the way of overall plot, and a lot of it will go over your head anyway, but the science provides a depth of story and a richness to the characters that you just don’t get with many other authors.
There are a few uncanny similarities between some settings and plot developments in The Andromeda Strain and a specific draft of the novel I’m working on, which I only realised when I read this a few years ago. That draft has mostly been washed away now, but it was a little disconcerting to know that all my hard work had, well… already been published in the sixties!
However, it just goes to show you that when it comes to writing a novel, there are no new ideas or set-ups – only twists and spins on what has already been written.