The Andromeda Breakthrough
|The Andromeda Breakthrough|
|Directed by||John Elliot (Eps 1,3,5)|
John Knight (Eps 2,4,6)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||6x45 Minutes|
|Original release||28 June –|
2 August 1962
The Andromeda Breakthrough was a 1962 sequel to the popular BBC TV science fiction serial A for Andromeda, again written by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot.
Kidnapped by Intel representative Kaufman (John Hollis), John Fleming (Peter Halliday) along with Professor Madeleine Dawnay (Mary Morris) and Andromeda, the artificially constructed female humanoid (Susan Hampshire), are brought to Azaran, a small Middle Eastern country.
Upon arrival, the group find a duplicate of the machine Fleming designed has been built by Intel. After many dangers, Fleming finds both the reason for the original message having been sent and the means to bring the machine under human control.
Things take a deadly turn when Fleming discovers the politically unstable leader's hope to make use of his and Dawnay's skills and Andromeda's otherworldly abilities...
The title star of the previous serial, Julie Christie, was unavailable owing to other projects. As a result, the role was recast with Susan Hampshire succeeding Christie as Andromeda, who survived her fall into the cavern pool.
The complete TV serial survives in the BBC archives and was released, alongside the surviving episode plus material from A for Andromeda and various extra features, as part of The Andromeda Anthology DVD set in 2006.
Hoyle and Elliot's novelisation was published by Harper and Row in 1964, as Andromeda Breakthrough by arrangement with the BBC, and paperback editions followed from Fawcett World Library (1965) in USA and Corgi (1966) in Britain. Judith Merril reported that although the novelisation suffered from "routine writing, stereotyped characters, and an apparent belief in the Ian Fleming school of international intrigue," the scientists-protagonists were "anything but stereotyped," and "a fair cross-section of the kinds of people who are attracted to scientific work." Merril concluded that the clichéd elements "provide a reasonably amusing background to a genuinely intriguing scientific puzzle."
A major theme of the novel is that the essence of life is information of a type that can be transmitted by radio signal over galactic distances. Hoyle and Elliot published this novel in 1964 and its predecessor “A for Andromeda” in 1962 at a time when the fundamental importance of the biological information encoded in DNA was in the early stages of becoming understood. The biochemist in the novel, Professor Dawnay, had been able to create an initial, but malignant, bacterial life form when “she began a D.N.A. synthesis” using information transmitted from the Andromeda Galaxy. In Chapter 10, to counteract the initial destructive bacterial form, Dawnay carries out synthesis of another “D.N.A. helix” based bacterium which is able to eliminate the former one, thus saving mankind. In the real world of today, whole genomes can actually be built from chemically synthesized DNA sequences, and when inserted into a receptive cellular environment can be brought to life to create a novel organism (see for example Hutchinson et al.). Thus the fictional syntheses of life forms described in the novel are similar to what, today, can actually be realized.
- ^ "Books", F&SF, May 1965, p.73 (parenthetical asides omitted)
- ^ Hutchison CA 3rd, Chuang RY, Noskov VN, Assad-Garcia N, Deerinck TJ, Ellisman MH, Gill J, Kannan K, Karas BJ, Ma L, Pelletier JF, Qi ZQ, Richter RA, Strychalski EA, Sun L, Suzuki Y, Tsvetanova B, Wise KS, Smith HO, Glass JI, Merryman C, Gibson DG, Venter JC. Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome. Science 2016 Mar 25;351(6280):aad6253. doi: 10.1126/science.aad6253. Erratum in: ACS Chem Biol. 2016 May 20;11(5):1463. PMID 27013737
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