Saturday, September 15, 2007

Eric Donovan, the cyborg, in Larry Niven's stories

I am writing this piece because Eric seems to be much imitated in fiction; this separate article will let me link from relevant places.

Eric is not described in a single story; bits of him are described in the following stories:

  1. "The Coldest Place"
  2. "Becalmed in Hell"
Eric was a man. He once "tried to land a moonship without radar" & ended up pretty much dying. "There was nothing left of Eric then except the intact central nervous system, & no glands except the pituitary."

In the cyborg avatar, what exists of Eric is his "central nervous system, with the brain perched at the top and the spinal cord coiled in a loose spiral to fit more compactly into the transparent glass & sponge plastic housing. Hundreds of wires from all over the ship led to the glass walls, where they were joined to selected nerves which spread like an electrical network from the central coil of nervous tissue and fatty protective membrane."

These linkages, through prosthetic devices, also include his speech & hearing devices. In fact, he keeps getting rehooked to new ships as new models come into being - which requires some amount of learning on his part.

"Eric never sleeps normally, since his blood doesn't accumulate fatigue poisons, and he'd go mad from being awake all the time if he didn't have a Russian sleep inducer plate near his cortex."