My wife and I have been watching “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman” on DVD recently. During each show’s ending credits, the phrase “Inspired by the novel Cyborg, by Martin Caidin” came up. This aroused my curiosity about Caidin’s original conception of Steve Austin, his bionic enhancements, and the people and governmental structure that supported him. I’ve read the summary of the novel on Wikipedia, and reviews at sites such as Amazon, but that’s not the same as reading the actual story. So I checked the novel out of the library, and enjoyed it so much that I read it twice. (Then, sadly, I had to return it).
Television and movies tend to simplify literary works, and Caidin’s novel is much more involved than either of the shows it inspired. But one area that the shows expand, and even improve, is the character of Oscar Goldman. In Caidin’s novel, Goldman is the second-in-command of the Office of Strategic Operations (OSO). He’s the governmental bureaucrat that Steve Austin, Dr. Rudy Wells, and the bionics staff interface with. In terms of technical knowledge, Caidin describes him as holding a Master’s Degree in Electronics and Computer Systems. But Steve only meets with Oscar Goldman a couple times, and no appreciable warmth or relationship develops between the two.
The television show enlarges Oscar Goldman’s role, not only by making him the head of the Office of Strategic Investigations (OSI), but by making him Steve’s chief protector and friend. He’s always concerned about sending Steve into unnecessary danger, and constantly refers to him as his pal. He seems like Steve’s older brother, offering advice when the situation calls for it, and acting as a buffer between Steve and those in the government who might expect too much of their super-operative.
In “The Bionic Woman,” Oscar Goldman regards Jaime like a father. He’s even more reticent to send her into danger, and usually keeps in direct touch with her while on assignment. When danger presents itself, his first instinct is to pull her out. He constantly puts his hand around her, and his eyes glow with concern as he talks with her. His pride in her successes is equally clear.
These days, Oscar Goldman goes by the name of Richard Anderson, no doubt due to security concerns. (After all, he was once privy to a wealth of Top Secret information). When I spotted him at Stan Lee’s Comikaze, I approached him respectfully, and just intended to tell him how much I enjoyed watching him in both series. But I found him so warm, friendly, and engaging, that time sped past as we talked about Martin Caidin’s novel, his experience with the author, the enduring appeal of Steve Austin, his hopes of producing a feature film, and the current state of bionic enhancements for the handicapped. When his associate took a photograph of us, Oscar Goldman placed his hand on my shoulder like he always did with Jaime (and like he probably would have done with Steve, had the Air Force Colonel not been such a man’s man).
My meeting with Oscar Goldman was unscheduled, and came as a complete surprise. It lasted no more than ten or fifteen minutes. But of all my experiences at Stan Lee’s Comikaze, it was the one that most touched my heart. I sincerely hope he succeeds in his mission to bring Steve Austin to the big screen. If he does, I’ll support him in any way I can. Mr. Goldman, sir, you can count on me!
Related Dragon Cache entries