Tag Archives: Michael Crichton

Friday Fiction Fixes #28…

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton – 1969

517olYALNZL._SX296_BO1,204,203,200_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.

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Friday Fiction Fixes #16…

The Swarm by Arthur Herzog – 1974

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I picked up The Swarm from a second-hand store many years ago, and it sat at the bottom of my to-read pile of books for a while before I got around to reading it.

The Swarm is an entertaining and fairly short read about an influx of killer African bees to the United States, and follows them as they move from town to town, taking out everyone in their path. Although an entirely fictional account of events, it takes a leaf out of what Michael Crichton did in most of his novels by including enough scientific-looking charts, graphs and diagrams throughout the text to make what you are reading seem authentic.

The Swarm was published in the early seventies, at the height of the general fascination with disaster stories, but where Hollywood was more focused on earthquakes and buildings catching fire, this novel benefits from tapping in to the public’s fear of the unknown. Bees, yeah… but killer bees.

In fact, the novel was somewhat influential in ushering in a plethora of less than stellar stories about animals taking over, over the next decade or so. Of course, The Swarm itself was turned into a particularly awful B-movie a few years later, but the less said about that the better we’ll all be.