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Free Study Guide-The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton-Book Notes
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CONFLICT

This book is a classic science fiction struggle between man and nature.

Protagonists

The Wildfire team of scientists. They are assembled to grapple with the mysterious bacteria from outer space that threatens to destroy mankind. They must determine the process by which Andromeda kills, and hopefully design a way to interrupt that process. Because of the catastrophic potential of Andromedaís spread, our protagonists are aided in their research by various groups along the way.

The military agencies responsible for bringing Andromeda to earth now need the Wildfire team to come up with an antidote for the bacteria before it infects more towns and kills more people. In addition, the Presidentís scientific advisor in Houston works with the Wildfire project to keep them abreast of any new political developments.


Antagonists

Andromeda Strain, a bacteria brought to earth from space by a U.S. Military space probe seeking new weapons. After it comes to earth, it kills off the entire small town of Piedmont in western Arizona, save for a newborn baby and an old man. and threatens to wipe out all living creatures in its path unless a vaccine to protect against it can be produced.

Within this main conflict there are smaller conflicts. The scientists disagree with the army and the President over the best way to combat the virus. In addition, there are conflicts within the Wildfire team itself. Stone has a low opinion of Hallís ability to contribute and thinks that Burton is a slob. Leavitt has an inner conflict over whether or not his epilepsy should exclude him from being on the team. Stone and Leavitt also debate whether or not destroying the Andromeda Strain is ethical, since it may be a highly evolved organism.

Climax

There are two possible moments that could be identified as the climax of the novel, depending how one would like to structure the presentation. The more obvious event would be Hallís pressing the red button, stopping the countdown, and thus avoiding a nuclear explosion that would kill all the scientists and cause the Andromeda Strain to further mutate. The second moment could be the Hallís formulation of the highwat diagnosis. At this point, the scientists have discovered a way to control the bacteria, and thus the mystery of Andromeda Strain is over.

Outcome

Stone explains to Hall that the bacteria which wiped out Piedmont has somehow mutated into a harmless form and so is no longer a danger to humanity. Even if it were to somehow mutate back into its deadly strain, they now have the knowledge to formulate preventative measures and protect people against it.

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