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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,223 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A duel to the death between a mad millionaire who wants to destroy San Diego and the cool, tough government agent who must stop him.
Paperback, 213 pages
Published December 31st 1972 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 1972)
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Grade: B- ...John Lange (an early psuedonym used by Michael Crichton)wrties a rather ho-hum novel in Binary. The most interesting thing is reading this book as a time capsule of cutting edge computer technology circa 1972.
One of Michael Crichton's very first efforts (which he wrote under a pen name), BINARY is a very mediocre novel, but still pretty amazing considering how young Crichton was when he wrote it. Crichton would later use it as the basis for his directorial debut, a 1972 TV movie called PURSUIT. It's the story of two brilliant men, a government agent and a cold-blooded terrorist, who see each other as long-sought-out adversaries and can't resist playing a series of mind games with each other. The fate ...more
Adrian McCarthy
A straightforward thriller with a little touch of Crichton-esque techy complication thrown in. A very fast read. Not much in the way of characters, which seems typical for Crichton. (I'm not sure why one of the editions shows a woman on the cover. None of the characters in the story are women; there are only a couple small references to the sexual conquests of one of the men.)

Even though this was written in the early '70s, it has some interesting connections to today. John Graves, the hero, has
Al Young
This is one of the novellas Crichton wrote as he put himself through med school. Obviously, this is of interest to more of a few people, so it's been reprinted a few times. In fact, one recent cover of this book makes it look like something out of Chandler/Ellroy/Sin City pulp fiction (which it isn't even close to).

That said, it is some of Crichton's early work as a pulp writer. That seems contradictory, maybe oxymoronic, but Pulp Crichton is actually exactly what you think it might be. It's pul
Fast, easy, fun, and masculine to a ludicrous degree. So, pretty much exactly what you want when you pick up a pulp novel to read over the summer break. It was cool getting to read a Michael Crichton book from before he was THE Michael Crichton. Kind of feels like watching batting practice at a major league ballgame, or showing up to the symphony early and hearing all the instruments get tuned up.

Something that did surprise me about this book that sets it apart from most other pulp novels: abso
In the scheme of things, "Binary" was Michael Crichton's 11th book (8th under the Lange pen-name) and yet it has the feel of being much less developed, not just in plot and characterization, but in execution as well. Perhaps the author felt a bit ill at ease in writing a purely political/spy thriller, or having to rely on a unbelievable politically conservative lunatic for a villain, or countering the villain with the fiction of a competent civil servant. Or maybe he just couldn't work up any en ...more
Michael Crichton published ten books -- five before The Andromeda Strain and five after -- under pseudonyms, eight of them as John Lange. Thanks to Hard Case Crime (and Crichton himself), the Lange books are available once again. Binary is the last of them. Being the last, I don't know if it is also the best, but reading it was such a pleasure that I can assure you I intend to find out.

It is, according to other sources, the book most like his more famous works, and it's easy enough to see why th
Libri &
John Graves, agente del servizio segreto, viene incaricato di sorvegliare John Wright, uomo ricco nonché matematico talentuoso ritenuto pericoloso per la sicurezza nazionale. Qualche mese dopo Graves viene convocato dai Servizi Segreti per discutere del furto di alcune informazioni riservate da parte di Tim Drew, amico di John Wright. Informazioni che hanno permesso a quest'ultimo di impossessarsi di un potente gas nervino; un'arma chimica letale che Wright vuole utilizzare a San Diego (sede del ...more
Joe Lines
I picked this one up because I'm a mad fan of the author. This was one of Crichton's/Lange's earliest works and it was intended to be short, exciting, and pretty straight-forward. If you accept these things about it, I think it can certainly be a pretty nice little read, but there are definitely places that I wish he'd put just a little more time and energy into. I found the main villain could have been spruced up a bit, and the binary (see what he did there?) between him and the hero could have ...more
Tim Potter
A fantastic action thriller that, like the best of Crichton, features technology ahead of its time. In this case, the forward-thinking tech is computer networking, military computer systems that clearly look to the future and the internet. Amazing when considering this novel first saw print in 1972. Crichton also addresses early elements of Chaos Theory, a mathematical and scientific theory he would bring to the masses decades later in JURASSIC PARK. The majority of the book is dedicated to stop ...more
This book was an exciting read and kept my attention the whole time. It wasn't as good as some of Crichton's others but I still enjoyed it.
David Macpherson
I really had a good time with this Crichton pot boiler. Only one man can stop a mad millionaire from killing a million people with stolen nerve gas. Yeah. Nutsy. Crichton could write a lot of suspense out of a tight 12 hour timeline for his tale and it is not weighed down with too much technical or political conversations as some of his later books tended to be. This felt in some ways like the boy's action version of Andromeda Stain in tone. The best part? Like all pulp fiction, the cover has a ...more
Craig Childs
Binary is a taut political suspense thriller which follows State Department intelligence analyst John Graves hot on the trail of a suspected terrorist. He has twelve hours to figure out when, where, and how an attack might come on the 1972 Republican National Convention. (Through a rather bizarre twist of fate, the book is set in San Diego, where the convention was supposed to have taken place. In real life the convention was moved to Florida in the midst of an apparent Nixon bribery scandal. Al ...more
Political radical John Wright is planning something, but nobody knows what. John Graves, the federal agent in charge of his surveillance, thinks Wright is up to something nefarious—and with the president in town to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention, nobody wants to take any chances. As Graves’ investigation heats up, it’s clear Wright’s intentions are maniacal, and eventually Graves realizes he’s hijacked tons of nerve gas from an Army shipment. And if he doesn’t stop Wrig ...more
This book was written by the late Michael Crichton, perhaps best known as the author of the blockbuster Jurassic Park, way back in 1972 under the pseudonym John Lange. It surfaced recently in ebook format, for a short time offered at for $1.99. Because I'm a huge Michael Crichton fan, I considered it a bargain and snapped it up immediately despite having only nine customer reviews at Amazon (although all are either 5 or 4 stars, so I wasn't terribly worried).

It is one of several books
I have previously written on this blog about my admiration for hacks. Hacks are like session musicians: their job is to produce efficiently and effectively. And well. And often. Some of my heroes are hacks. Mark Twain was a hack. So was Chet Atkins.

Michael Crichton was in medical school when he wrote his first novels. Medical school. How he managed to write a single novel while in med school is beyond me—I can barely write my dissertation and that’s all I have to do. But he wrote them. Binary i
The prologue was fantastic. The first 3 chapters were very slow and failed to hold my interest. After a few pages I couldn't care much about what the military guys were taking about. I wanted to know what was the situation that they were dealing with and a rough outline of what they were doing or planning to do first. Without that information it was pretty boring to listen to their petty conversations. dropped the book after 3-4 chapters.
Jeff J.
An early novel by Michael Crichton written under his pseudonym John Lange, the publication date and setting of 1972 leaves it somewhat dated. Nevertheless you can see the early development of Critchton's writing style, the mix of hard science and ramping tension. Kudos to Hard Case Crime for republishing these books, I plan on reading more.
John Lange (Michael Crichton) thrills as usual, this time with 1970s-era chemical terrorist exploits. His intellectual fiction is at the same time incredibly understandable; his settings plausible. Compared to his other works - say, "Airframe" - it was an easy read, not too complex but enough to keep you guessing. I was a little frustrated when the climax turned out to be something I guessed before the characters, but it was refreshing at the same time to understand how the mystery items work to ...more
Michael Crichton wrote this book under a pseudonym (John Lange) in 1972. We was writing back then to pay his way through medical school. This novel is a short thriller about a plot to kill the president. Several inconsistencies and some inadvertent connections to SLC and 1972 that I found amusing. Quick, light read.
Walt Mccluskey
Binary: a Novel

An interesting concept in the primary plot of the book, however very disappointed by the revelation of the story in its prelude to the solution of the crime. It was more of an afterthought than a well-written novel. I doubt I will try another by this author although I have greatly enjoyed the movies made from others.
Christopher Dubey
I read this early work by Michael Crichton (using a pseudonym) a few years ago. Like in later works, he gives great attention to scientific detail to make the fiction quite plausible. However, the characters, especially the villain, are flat and the plot is predictable and linear.
A pretty good thriller, where the real enemy is government bureaucracy.

A millionaire, disenchanted with the 20 century, plants a nerve gas bomb during the 1972 republican convention, and John Graves has to stop him.

Not a lot of action, but a great deal of suspense.
Daniel DeLappe
Just a fantastic quick read. Crichton was such a fantastic story teller. Fast moving. Well thought out story. He has about four or five more of these Hard Case Crime book and I will be reading every one. It is kind of cool reading the science from the time of the writing. Just great stuff.
Definitely not Crichton at his best. Story is short, I reached the end and found myself wondering, "That's it?" No real understanding of the "bad guy's" motivations or anything...The best part was that everything in this book was sooooo high-tech...back in the 70s! :D
Ann Burden Gawthrop
Quick enjoyment

Love Michael and brainy! Ready for another of his retro offerings. Wish he were still around to provide the world with total enjoyment. RIP...
This is my second John Lange novel, and it was much better than the first one I read. Since I discovered that Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, used the pseudonym Lange to write several novels early in his career I've been dying to read them all.

This has the makings of a great Crichton novel but he wasn't quite there yet. His writing isn't polished, his characters aren't fleshed out, and the book is incredibly short. However there were glimpses of the writer he would become, and I st
Possibly reflective of Crichton's genesis to writing fiction, the book was dry and a little unravelled, unlike is later works.

The concept behind the book was great.

Eric Hansen
One of Crichton's first books, written in 1972, it lacks the character building that he would eventually develop, but it does include the science that he is best known for.
Quick, fast-paced and interesting. There's not a lot of depth but if you're reading it for the action and suspense then you'll definitely be satisfied.
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Conflict Action T...: Elements of a Story: Binary by John Lange 1 3 Apr 03, 2013 04:50PM  
  • The Rip-Off
  • Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A.
  • Blood on the Mink
  • Electronic Life
  • The Consummata (Hard Case Crime #103)
  • The Astronaut's Wife
  • Kill Now, Pay Later (Hard Case Crime #35)
  • Say It With Bullets (Hard Case Crime #18)
  • Shooting Star/Spiderweb (Hard Case Crime #42)
  • Deep as the Marrow
  • Stop This Man! (Hard Case Crime #58)
  • False Negative (Hard Case Crime #107)
  • Honey in his Mouth (Hard Case Crime, #60)
  • Straight Cut (Hard Case Crime #21)
  • Witness to Myself (Hard Case Crime #19)
John Lange is a pseudonym of author Michael Crichton. His pen name was selected as reference to his above-average height of 6' 9"(2.06 meters). Lange means "tall one" in German, Danish and Dutch.
More about John Lange...
Zero Cool (Hard Case Crime #41) Grave Descend (Hard Case Crime #26) Easy Go (Hard Case Crime MC3) Drug of Choice (Hard Case Crime MC6) Scratch One (Hard Case Crime MC2)

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