Archive for the ‘Michael Crichton’ Category

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

October 9, 2012

The Andromeda Strain while being Michael Crichton‘s sixth published novel was the first to be released under his own name. The book kicks off when a downed NASA satellite from project SCOOP lands near Piedmont, Arizona and locals open it, unknowingly releasing a deadly microorganism which will later be codenamed the Andromeda Strain. The organism seems to kill by clotting all of the blood of the people it infects, but it soon becomes clear that there is more going on as some people had time to go quietly insane. Even more amazing two survivors are found. An old man with a history of ulcers, and a bawling baby boy who never seems to stop crying. After rescuing the two survivors, Wildfire project head Jeremy Stone, and fellow project member Charles Burton request that a nuclear bomb be dropped on Piedmont in order to stop the spread of the organism. Unbeknown to the Wildfire team, however, the president decides to delay dropping the bomb, instead condoning of the area to prevent anyone from getting in. He does this because dropping the bomb would mean explaining to the Soviets why such a violation of the Moscow Treaty of 1963 which forbids the firing of nuclear weapons above ground was necessary, which might leave to some uncomfortable question that might reveal the fact that the scoop satellites were DESIGNED to collect microorganisms from outer space that could hopefully be used in biological warfare. It is this and other mistakes like it that while leading to near disaster in some areas fend of  disaster, by SHEER LUCK mind you, in others. To go over the various twists in turns would take to long and remove all suspense from the book, but suffice to say that this books hallmarks one of the reoccurring themes in Michael Crichton’s books. The potential for humanity to fail to live up to its technology. While Crichton is not anti-progress he does believe we should take the time to slow down and think things through as a  SOCIETY. In other words rather than trusting experts blindly we should listen to their expert opinions and contribute back. As decisions made by scientific researchers have the just as potential for good and for ill as decisions by military officers, politicians and people in the financial industry. Therefore, we should monitor them just as much.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Zero Cool by John Lange

June 1, 2011

Zero Cool by John Lange aka Michael Crichton is the author’s fifth published book. In this novel he returns to the simplicity of his other John Lange works. In Zero Cool radiologist Peter Ross is on vacation in Spain when an unknown man comes up to him and warns him that if he performs an autopsy he will be killed. Peter, being unqualified to perform an autopsy at any rate, dismisses the man as crazy. That is, until, Robert Carrini and his “relatives” come up to him and tell him that if he does NOT perform an autopsy for them they will kill him. Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place Peter reluctantly agrees to do the autopsy where the heart of the deceased is replaced with a strange metal box. As events grow more and more complicated Peter is stuck between two rival groups each eager to obtain the contents of the box. With only the beautiful Angela Locke, who peter is not even sire weather or not he can trust, as a companion, Peter enters into the battle in order to try to escape with his life.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

A Case Of Need by Jeffery Hudson

October 25, 2010

Looks like I got this review posted later rather then sooner, and for that I apologize. Anyways, on to the review. A Case Of Need tells the story of John Barry, a pathologist at a Boston hospital who learns that his friend, Art Lee has been implicated in the death of Karen Randall, daughter of prominent Boston heart surgeon J.D. Randall. Karen died 0f blood loss because of a poorly done abortion (please note that this book was written and published in 1968, 5 years before the Roe v. Wade case). My thoughts and opinions on abortion aside (I feel this is neither the time nor place to discuss it), A Case Of Need is a well written mystery novel, that delves into more issues then just abortion. Other issues covered are medical politics, for example if doctors were to report every bar room brawl they treated, as required by law, they would spend a bigger percentage of their time testifying in court, and less time practicing medicine; and racial politics Art Lee being part Chinese being the prime example. These smaller, but nonetheless important issues brought up by A Case Of Need are too often overlooked by those seeking to promote or condemn the main issue of the novel. All in all, A Case Of Need, is a well written mystery dealing with hot topic issues of the day, both then and now. It truly deserves its Edgar Award.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Easy Go by John Lange

October 21, 2009

Easy Go by John LangePublished in 1968, this is Michael Crichton’s 3rd novel, Easy Go. First off, don’t let the cover mislead you there is NO sex in this book. Now about thee book itself. In this story Egyptologist Harold Barnaby while doing a routine re-translation of some hieroglyphics discovers something amazing, a key to locating an undiscovered tomb. While he would like to rob it for himself at this point he lacks both the knowledge and connections to pull it off. A chance encounter with Robert Pierce, the true main character, gives him what they both need to pull it off. What is truly great about this novel, even more so then the twists in the plot, is the way these characters draw you in. While on one hand you do not want them to successfully loot the tomb, you still cannot help but hope that the cast will get off without being arrested, because you cannot want any harm to come to them. This is how engaging and human these characters are, that despite what they try to do you cannot help loving them, and wishing them the best.

Overall Rating 3.7 out of 5 stars

Scratch One by John Lange

October 17, 2009

Scratch One by John LangeScratch One is another book the recently departed Michael Crichton wrote under the pen name John Lange. Published in 1967, just one year after Odds On, it is none the less a fair bit different. First of it has little to no sexual content, and what little does exist is not very graphic. Second rather then the main character being a professional crook, Roger Carr is an ordinary carefree man, who by a simple case of mistaken identity, gets himself caught up in a conspiracy in which he could easily wind up dead. Most moving of all is that even when given a chance to walk away, decides to risk it all for the woman he ended up falling in love with. This transformation is made even more remarkable by the fact that he used to have more of a devil-may-care playboy lifestyle. One last note though also out of print for awhile you can easily find a used copy cheap on line, for ~$11.00.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Odds On by John Lange

October 16, 2009

Odds On by John LangeThough the name John Lange might not be familiar to many, rest assured that you have probably read at least one of his books. For Odds On is actually Michael Crichton‘s first EVER published novel. When Michael Crichton first started writing he was in Med School and a good portion of his grades were based on what his teachers thought of him. He was worried that if they knew he was writing books, they would think less of him and his grades would suffer, so he first wrote under pen names, one of them being John Lange. There are two things you should be aware of before reading this book. One is the price. Being that it has been out of print for awhile it is quite expensive. The cheapest you can expect to find it for is approximately $86, and even then it may not be in perfect condition. The second is the sex scenes. About a third of the book is soft core sex. Despite that this book is a decent read. While not up to snuff with his later novels, even here we see the beginnings of traits that would become classic Crichton. The introducing of new technology to readers, as well as unexpected twists in the story line can be seen. But I digress, In this book three men plan to rob a hotel on the Spain’s Costa Brava. To pull off this crime they use an computer (nothing new in this day and age but keep in mind this was published back in 1966) to help plan the crime. Even this early in his career we can see hints of scientific and philosophical depth to come later. For example, early on Steve Jencks, the main crook/character says “The computer doesn’t have any ideas. It only evaluates my own…” this shows that computers can NOT think for themselves. Which is something that early science fiction confused people about. Finally, the book shows that even in the computer age that the best laid plans of mice and men can still go awry, and Roberts Burns words have never proved so true.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.