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Mayflower, London, 1974
(first published in Great Britain by WH Allen, 1973)
price: 50p; 272 pages

dedication: For Big Milty

The blurb on the back:

When they pulled Steve Austin's body from the charred wreckage of his experimental plane all that was left was a torso with a right arm. Literally reconstructed by the most advanced methods of medical technology Austin becomes a cyborg - half man, half machine - a man of the present with the attributes of the future. In repayment, he accepts an official assignment that is to take him around the world, in the air and under water, to a rendezvous with forces testing equally his God-given and man-made powers...

opening lines:
Lonely mountain took the first harsh whisper of naked sun. Far beyond the ridges of the San Dernardino, the San Gabriel, and the Shadow Mountains, the peak the Spaniards long ago named Soledad glowed against desert mountain sky.

Martin Caidin was a decent writer and serious about his subject-matter, which - being an ex-pilot - was primarily aviation. He was also well-informed about the work being done in military circles on bionics, and utilized it to produce this novel about a man being rebuilt with cybernetic replacements for various parts of his body. The set-up is really very well done, though the subsequent sub-James Bond story is strictly ho-hum, as though Mr Caidin's well of inspiration had dried up rather too early in the writing process. Of course it's not helped by the fact that the likes of The Terminator have taken the idea of cyborgs so much further, while real-life implants are becoming ever more adventurous, but for those interested in the history of the concept, this is pretty much where it starts.

You won't need a bionic eye to spot that this is the source material for the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, but that had yet to hit British screens when this edition was published, so we get the original cover illustration and a teaser tag for the forthcoming show. Trivia fans may care to note that in the original, it is Steve Austin's left arm that gets replaced, while the TV version made it his right arm. I don't why this is.

In the absence of a picture on the jacket of Lee Majors in the role of Steve Austin, I thought I'd add it myself. So here is Mr Majors with some young ladies he prepared earlier:

ladies' man


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