The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Publication Date: 1969-05-12
The Andromeda Strain sets forth with almost documentary verisimilitude the unfolding story of "Project Wildfire" -- the crash mobilization of the nation's highest scientific and medical resources when an unmanned research satellite returns to earth mysteriously and lethally contaminated. Four American scientists, chosen in advance for their experimental achievements in the fields of clinical microbiology, epidemiology, pathology, and electrolyte chemistry, are summoned under conditions of total news blackout and utmost urgency to Wildfire's secret laboratory five stories beneath the Nevada desert.
There -- surrounded by banks of the most sophisticated computer-assisted equipment, and sealed off from the outside world except for a telecommunications link with the national security apparatus -- they work against the threat of a worldwide epidemic to find an antidote to the unknown microorganism that has inexplicably killed all but two inhabitants (an elderly derelict and an infant) of the tiny Arizona town where the satellite was retrieved.
Step by step they begin to unravel the puzzle of the Andromeda Strain, until, terrifyingly, their microbacterial "adversary" ruptures the hypersterile seal of the laboratory and their already desperate search for a biomedical answer becomes a split-second race against an atomic deadline. With its narrative force, its scientific detail, its suspense -- as four brilliant individualists work together under ultimate pressure -- this novel makes real for the reader the real world of today's science and medicine at the top-secret levels of the Science-Space-Military high command.