Saturday, December 31, 2022

Quote of the Hour: What Can Be Fixed and What Can't

What Michael [Crichton] wasn't was a very good writer. The Andromeda Strain was a terrific concept, but it was a mess - sloppily plotted, underwritten, and worst of all, with no characterization whatsoever. His scientists were beyond generic - they lacked all human specificity; the only thing that distinguished some of them from the others was that some died and some didn't. I realized right away that with his quick mind, swift embrace of editorial input, and extraordinary work habits he could patch the plot, sharpen the suspense, clarify the science - in face, do everything necessary except create convincing human beings. (He never did manage to; eventually I concluded that he couldn't write about people because they just didn't interest him.) It occurred to me that instead of trying to help him strengthen the human element, we could make a virtue of necessity by stripping it away entirely; by turning The Andromeda Strain from a documentary novel into a fictionalized documentary. Michael was all for it - I think he felt relieved.

 - Robert Gottlieb, Avid Reader, p.109

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