The Andromeda Evolution
“Wilson has fashioned a good follow up to Crichton’s Andromeda Strain. It’s a fast read and well-constructed. There are moments in the writing that are more authorial than character driven, but the story is so well told and fast-paced that the viewpoint issues are of little concern.”
It’s been 50 years since the Andromeda Strain first entered our lives, and here we are, 50 years later once again facing the total destruction of Earth.
Author Daniel H. WIlson has taken Michael Crichton’s story and reawakened the terror of that invasion from space but added some interesting twists.
After the first encounter, steps were taken to form a watchdog organization whose sole responsibility was to keep an eye out for any further activity, and of course, there is.
In the Amazon jungle, an anomaly appears one day, and no one understands what this might be, but it is growing fast—fast enough to be seen from the International Space Station by Dr. Sophie Kline, female astronaut and leader of the ISS mission. To say she is brilliant would be an understatement, but what makes her even more alluring is the fact that since childhood she has been wheelchair bound, the victim of juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Her only way out of this condition was through her extraordinary mental capabilities. Dr. Kline is now providing assistance to the ground crew that has been identified to investigate this anomaly and take the necessary action to contain it.
This crew is drawn together under the watchful eye of four-star general, Rand L. Stern, and consists of four brilliant scientists, each with his or her own specific skills.
Commander of the crew: Dr. Nidhi Vedala, 42, Indian, female, who specializes in nanotechnology: materials science; Andromeda Strain; AS-1, AS-2; Harold Odhiambo, 68, African male, lead field scientist who specializes in Xenogeology, geology, anthropology, biology and a general broad base knowledge; Peng Wu, 37, Chinese, female, doctor, pathologist, and soldier; and Zachary Gordon, ranger elite, trauma surgeon.
But Gordon is sacked before the task even begins, replaced by Dr. James Stone, a roboticist and artificial intelligence (AI) expert, and the son of Dr. Jeremy Stone of the original Andromeda invasion. Why is he the replacement? ”it’s just a hunch.”
For anyone who read the original story, The Andromeda Strain, this one picks up the same chills that Crichton gave us, right from the beginning. Wilson applies an interesting style to his writing. The Andromedia Evolution is, in many instances, written as a report—that is, written after the fact, while at other times the reader is taken right into the story as it unfolds through the points of view of the various characters.
As the four scientists discuss the anomaly they are directed to learn about, the question arises about what, exactly they are investigating. Vedala alerts them to the fact—“a chemical fingerprint closely matching the original Andromeda incident.” Surely a fact that is startling to everyone involved.
A new member of the crew makes his appearance: Sergeant Eduardo Brink, US Army. Brink’s responsibility is to ensure the safety if the crew from the anomaly as well as the indigenous peoples that live in the depths of the Amazon jungle.
As the investigation continues and the crew nears the growing anomaly, further studies indicate “the existence of a novel mutation, with elements of AS-1 and AS-2 (Andromeda Strain).”
As the crew nears the anomaly, they discover dead animals throughout their pathway and face an attack from a local tribe. Although Brink and his team decimate the tribe, one young boy survives and joins the crew, and Brink and his entire team are killed. An agreement had been made prior to the onset of the investigation that if the crew did not check in within an agreed upon time, General Stern would assume they were dead, and the anomaly would be destroyed. That clock continues to tick down to almost the last minute until one very creative message is sent and the destruction is halted.
Once the crew arrives at the anomaly, they determine that it is not only an Andromeda evolution, but it was created by human beings. They enter the structure and soon find dead bodies—dead human bodies. But the AS evolution remains active and claims the lives to two of the crew. Those remaining follow the well laid out clues and determine there is a relationship between this structure and the International Space Station.
And that relationship centers on Dr. Sophie Kline, who is determined to be the one individual who has not only constructed the anomaly structure, but the one who can control its activities. It does not take long to learn that Kline is not entirely right in her mind, and she is not about to fail in her goal “to set the human race free” from the AS evolution. However, her goals were a “sort of revenge.” She had “become convinced that the Andromeda Strain was an attack on humanity.” She shared this belief with no one.
It takes the loss of two of their team and a lot of digging into the mechanics of the structure they had entered for the survivors to realize that “We believe Kline is responsible for our casualties. She reverse-engineered the Andromeda Strain and built this anomaly. She’s on a crusade.”
Now, don’t let this come across as a spoiler. Kline’s role in this story becomes apparent about halfway through the story, and there is still a lot more to come once the team determines her roleplay.
The interesting continuation once her role is determined is for the two remaining scientists to stop her before she destroys the Earth. To do that, they must travel to the ISS and control her.
Do they achieve their goal? One must read the book to find out if they are successful.
Wilson has constructed a good follow up to Crichton’s Andromeda Strain. It’s a fast read and well-constructed. There are moments in the writing that are more authorial than character driven, but the story is so well told and fast-paced that the viewpoint issues are of little concern.
Crichton fans will not be disappointed.