Bionic Reviews: Cyborg #2 – Operation Nuke by Martin Caidin (1973)
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One year after Cyborg, in 1973, Caidin released his followup Steve Austin novel, Operation Nuke.
The original hardcover release is on the left. At this point, the original book was being adapted into the first The Six Million Dollar Man TV movie. As you can see, the paperback cover for this book on the right follows the same design as the later cover for Cyborg with Lee Major’s face and the mention of the TV show at the top. By the time this book hit paperback, The Six Million Dollar Man had three TV movies and was beginning its regular season run.
This is a good 70s “spy novel” but it’s not a great Bionic Man (or Cyborg) novel. Literally, Steve Austin doesn’t use any of his superhuman bionic abilities until like page 135 (of 175 pages). And he doesn’t use them again after that either. Also, at the beginning of the novel, when he’s getting his assignment, he is asked how much he knows about nuclear devices. Steve says that he had to actually build a nuclear device for one of his instructional classes with the military. This is very convenient considering the plot. And for something he did so long ago, the book makes Steve out to be a nuclear physicist with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of all nuclear bombs. That got old after a while.
Steve Austin spends most of this book infiltrating a criminal military organization in order to find out who is the leader and where they are getting their nuclear weapons. A task that doesn’t require the use of any bionic limbs. He finally uses his bionics at the end of the book when he has to carry a nuclear device from one room to another and he manages to disarm that device despite not ever seeing the insides or how it was built.
So, this was a less than satisfactory story if you are coming in expecting bionic action like the first novel. Even for a regular 70s spy novel it leaves a little something to be desired. Another thing that makes it tough to read is Caidin’s writing style. Caidin tends to describe things a lot. He may start off a chapter or section of a chapter by talking about certain objects or the surrounding environment and it’ll take a page and a half before people start talking or some action pertaining to the story happens. It causes the reader to “skip ahead” a bit to get things moving. So, all in all, this was a very disappointing book. Hopefully the next book will deliver more bionic goodness.