Cyborg was a 1972 novel written by futurist and aviations expert Martin Caidin. It detailed the crash of US Air Force test pilot, Steve Austin, and his subsequent implantation with bionics. It served as the specific story basis for The Six Million Dollar Man telemovie and the general inspiration for The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman television series. It also launched a series of novels by Caidin featuring the character (which generally followed a separate continuity from the TV series).
As a matter of law, it establishes Caidin as the creator of Steve Austin, Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells. This fact is a major part of the reason that these characters do not appear in Bionic Woman (2007). Even though Jaime Sommers did not originate in any of Caidin's work, each episode of the original The Bionic Woman series carries a credit acknowledging that the spin-off series, like its parent program, was based upon Cyborg (the characters of Goldman and Wells, introduced in this book, did make regular appearances in the new series, and Steve Austin played a recurring role). The 2007 version of Bionic Woman is considered sufficiently distanced from the original source material that neither Caidin and his novel, nor Kenneth Johnson, the nominal creator of Sommers, receive screen credit.
Bionics of the novel and the series
- Austin's bionics are powered by flywheel power sources, and a series of pulleys and gears derive their mechanical energy from these flywheels.
- The arm is depicted as being somewhat less sophisticated in its abilities than seen in the show, with Caidin frequently referring to it as a battering ram or bludgeon. Perhaps by choice or perhaps due to this lower level of sophistication, blows from the bionic arm against human opponents are usually described as being fatal, whereas Austin appears to be able to exercise a greater level of control in the TV series and is usually able to deliver non-fatal blows with his arm.
- Austin's left arm is bionic in the novel, but in the show it's his right arm.
- Austin's bionic eye cannot see in the novel. It is merely a photographic camera, activated by a switch near the eye socket under some false skin, and a portion of the eye must be removed in order to obtain the film inside. In Caidin's later novel, Cyborg IV, it is mentioned that the eye has been upgraded to do "range-finding" and infrared: but Austin still can't see with it.
- Austin cannot jump the great heights and lengths as seen in the series.
- Austin cannot run as fast as he does in the series. As reflected in the TV movie, Austin's special ability in this regard is enhanced stamina while running due to his lungs and heart not needing to provide power to his legs.
- Austin's bionics in the novel have some additional capabilities, not seen in the show. A finger on his bionic hand is capable of firing projectiles (specifically poison darts). Storage compartments in the legs allow him to carry concealed items, such as an oxygen tank and breathing mask. A radio transceiver can be equipped in one leg, and his partially metallic rib cage can be used as an antenna. A good portion of Austin's skull has also been replaced with metal. Although not utilized in the TV series, many of these extra features, especially the poison dart gun and metal skull replacement, are featured in several of the novels adapting Six Million Dollar Man episodes, especially those by Mike Jahn, to the extent that Jahn's novelization of The Secret of Bigfoot changes the TV story's ending substantially by having Steve be unaffected by the aliens' memory wipe, due to his artificial skull (rendering moot a substantial portion of the later storyline, "The Return of Bigfoot"). The Charlton Comics Six Million Dollar Man magazine included several stories that incorporated some of these extra features, too, such as the radio transciever in Austin's leg.
- "Bionics" are never referred to in the singular, for etymological reasons Caidin makes clear in this novel. Correctly, "bionics" is singular and plural, making it the proper word on which to base an adjectival form. On the series, and in common speech generally, "bionic" has come to be used as an adjective, whereas "bionics" is a noun. In addition, the term "cyborg" would only be used occasionally in the series, and only once in The Bionic Woman.
Cover Art Gallery
- Both the 1972 and the 1974 Warner Paperback Library editions, refers to Austin as "Lt. Col." Austin on the back cover blurb; in the novel itself and the series, he was a full colonel.
- The cover art of the 1974 edition, published to tie-in with the new TV series, includes a likeness of Lee Majors and implies that Austin's right eye is bionic. This error is repeated on the cover of the Warner paperback edition for Operation Nuke.
- In 1978, noted fantasy artist Boris Vallejo illustrated the 1978 reprint of the book by Berkeley; Vallejo, however, based his illustration on the television version of Austin; as a result, Austin's right arm is shown as bionic, contradicting the novel.