Bionic Reviews: Cyborg #3 – High Crystal by Martin Caidin (1974)
The third book in Martin Caidin’s Cyborg series starring Steve Austin is Cyborg #3: High Crystal. It was published in hardback in 1974.
The story for this book has it’s origins in another popular book from the early 70s called Chariots of the Gods, which I read many years ago. Essentially, Chariots involves an investigation of ancient civilizations that display a certain “technology” they had no way of obtaining. And the theory of how these early civilizations got that technology was…aliens. Yes, that book is a little ridiculous. The situations it investigates are very real, but the theories used to explain the situations are “out there”. But High Crystal takes the ancient civilization and their access to “high technology” and uses it to form an interesting mystery. Honestly, based on the fact that this book had it’s roots in Chariots of the Gods and revolved around what seemed to be a “magic energy crystal”, I was not looking forward to reading this book. It sounded straight up 70s and Bohemian. Not exactly what I was looking for in a Six Million Dollar Man book. But due to my current obsession with all things bionic, I read the book anyway.
The story begins with a spy plane being downed in the mountains of Peru. The one surviving member of the crew discovers a man-made roadway traveling through the mountains where no civilization currently exists, or any civilization has existed in thousands of years. So, when he returns to his superiors, they are obviously interested in what’s going on. Steve joins a group of scientists and soldiers on a mission to discover the road and find out where it came from and where it leads. Along the way they discover that a criminal organization will do anything to keep the discovery to themselves.
I was surprised how much better this book is than Operation Nuke. There are still some problems with Caidin’s overly descriptive writing, which is odd considering his books are usually sub-200 pages. But the feel of this book was fun and much more energetic than the last book. This book’s events had the historical roadtrip feel of something like Matthew Reilly’s 7 Deadly Wonders or even Raiders of the Lost Ark. And there is lots of bionic action by Steve Austin. Since they are trudging through the Peruvian jungles, there are plenty of places for Steve to methodically chop through underbrush or stare down a cougar (yes, that actually happened). And it helped that Steve and his group were being chased by the criminal organization throughout their trip which gives you the “ticking clock” suspense that was lacking in the second book. Once they discover what is at the end of the road, it isn’t disappointing. And the group seems to barely escape whatever happens to them. The book even leaves a sort of “not quite finished” ending you expect from a story like this. So this was a MUCH better read than the last book and it felt like it could have been a later season episode of the series. However, unfortunately, this book was not adapted into an episode of the TV series. There were some elements like the ancient civilizations that made it into the third Six Million Dollar Man TV movie, Solid Gold Kidnapping, but it was just one small element and none of the rest of the story made it. It’s a shame, this would have been a good episode (or TV movie).
There’s only one more book left in the original Caidin Cyborg novels, Cyborg IV. I look forward to reading it. It sounds like it could be amazing.