Martin Caidin (1927-1997) was an author, pilot, radio and TV personality and global adventurer. The author of some eighty-plus books and thousands of magazine articles, he was recognized internationally as an authority on astronautics and aviation. He was a commercial pilot, restoring and flying WWII bombers, fighters, and trainers. His most famous restoration was his Junkers JU-52, Iron Annie, a three-engine German transport now the flagship of Lufthansa Airlines.
Martin changed the camaraderie and fabric of the space program with his book Marooned, in which the Russians rescue our Astronauts; he was a Space Pioneer in the 1950s as part of the Werner Von Braun team at the Space Coast; on the scene and behind the scenes for every manned flight into space. Martin broadcast the launches of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs and published the book The Astronauts.
Martin served in various capacities as a reporter, broadcaster, pilot, and consultant to the U.S. Government. He changed the language of the world and inspired the medical Bionics industry with his book Cyborg, which became the popular series The Six Million Dollar Man.
Martin brought humanity to conflict in his book Samurai! by telling the story of a decorated Japanese flying ace. The sonnet "High Flight," written by John Gillespie Magee Jr., was published in Samurai!, and the last line says it all: “Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”
-Dee Dee Caidin
I never met Martin Caidin personally. But I have been affected by his work.
Every creative professional working in technology, science fiction, and aviation in the arenas of film, television, books, and storytelling in general has been affected by Martin’s work.
When I was a child of twelve, I sat in the theater, on the edge of my seat, watching as three astronauts were trapped in orbit while the world did its best to rescue them. That was the movie MAROONED. As a military brat fascinated with NASA, it was one of my favorite films. I had no idea, at that time, that it was based on a book by the same name. Written by Martin Caidin.
In that original book, written before the Apollo spacecraft had flown, Martin not only used current technology accurately (rare at that time in books of science fiction) but projected the future of technology, a future that has now moved from science fiction to science fact.
Fast forward: I’m a young man of 15, and I’m enthralled by this TV series called The Six Million Dollar Man. Aside from the characters, I’m fascinated by the usage of bionic technology, the medical merging of human and machine as reality. Then I discovered it was based on the book Cyborg written by Martin Caidin. When it was written, it was science fiction. Today, it is not only fact; it is established procedure in physical restoration.
Those are only two examples of Martin’s impressive catalogue of works. He wrote in fiction as well as non-fiction with a level of output that would still be the envy of professional authors today. And his futuristic mind still stands the test of time, even as time has turned his predictions of the future into fact.
Now, it is true many writers have projected the path of science and technology into the future; Martin wasn’t the first, but the detail with which he did it was incredibly convincing. The risk in such detail was that the reader could be lost and bored by the technicalities. Not so with Martin’s work. He wasn’t just writing about technology; he was writing about humanity and the repercussions of technological advancement. Sometimes, his stories were optimistic, sometimes terrifying. But in all of them, he never forgot that one element that no technology could fully replicate: the human spirit. His stories were often the clash between the two.
Martin’s books were a direct path into a world that was just over the horizon. He didn’t just write about possibilities of the future; he showed us the map for it, complete with warning signs.
I’m much older since I first saw that movie so long ago. I have a successful career as a writer and producer in television, much of my work in science fiction and fantasy. I’ve come to appreciate those who laid the groundwork for storytellers of the future and made me excited to create my own worlds and tell my own stories.
As I said at the beginning, I never knew Martin Caidin. But Martin Caidin definitely knew me.
-Steven L. Sears