A For Andromeda

Julie Christie in A For Andromeda

Julie Christie in the starring role as Andromeda.

A For Andromeda was a BBC television science fiction series, written by cosmologist Fred Hoyle and author and TV producer John Elliot. It was broadcast in seven parts in 1961 and published as a novel the following year.1


A For Andromeda was inspired by seminal developments in SETI and the construction of the first giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank; it aired in the year following Project Ozma.


The story begins with the accidental discovery of an extraterrestrial signal containing a complex message in binary (mathematics, as a universal language) – instructions, as it turns out, for making an immensely powerful computer. A similar theme was explored later by James Gunn in The Listeners and Carl Sagan in Contact.


From the cover of the Corgi edition of A For Andromeda:


Far away, from the constellation of Andromeda, came a message ... a program for a giant computer which hadn't even been built. For the scientists it was a major breakthrough in technology; for the politicians it was an opportunity to conquer the world; but nobody realized the true significance of the machine they had helped to create, nor of the beautiful woman who shared its secrets and its power ...



1. Hoyle, Fred, and Elliott, John A. A For Andromeda. New York: Harper & Row (1962).