Larry Niven's "The Soft Weapon" Turn Graphics ON!


Science Fiction author Larry Niven wrote a short story entitled "The Soft Weapon" which first appeared in Worlds of If in February 1967. That story concerned the crew of the spaceship Court Jester who had in their possession a stasis box and who were captured by a group of Kzinti pirates. The persons aboard the Court Jester were Jason Papandreou, a human male, his wife Anne-Marie and Nessus a Pierson's Puppeteer. (Cover of Worlds of If, 88K jpeg)

Years later, Niven would rewrite the short story as the script of an Animated STAR TREK episode. The episode was entitled "The Slaver Weapon" and originally aired on December 15, 1973. "The Slaver Weapon" was one of the best STAR TREK stories ever to air on television. The story was exciting, intelligent and thought provoking and is one of the chief reasons why the Animated STAR TREK series should be taken seriously as a science fiction series.

I encourage anyone who has not read Niven's original short story, to do so. The story was reprinted in 1968 in Neutron Star a collection of Larry Niven's stories. Neutron Star was published in April 1968 by Ballantine Books (ISBN# 0-345-33694-1). It is now out of print, but it can often still be found through (Cover of Neutron Star, 33K jpeg).

Below is a table containing a side-by-side comparison of the short story "The Soft Weapon" and the Animated STAR TREK episode "The Slaver Weapon." Only the differences between the two stories are listed below.


The Soft WeaponThe Slaver Weapon
First published in Feb. 1967 First aired in Dec. 1973
Court Jester spaceship Copernicus shuttlecraft
Jason Papandreou, Anne-Marie and Nessus Sulu, Uhura and Spock
Kzinti talked to Jason Papandreou because he was a carnivore Kzinti talked to Sulu Papandreau because he was a carnivore
Kzinti underestimated Nessus because he was a herbivorous pacifist Kzinti underestimated Spock because he was a herbivorous pacifist
Kzinti ignored Anne-Marie because she was a female Kzinti ignored Uhura because she was a female
Stasis box was made by the Tnuctipun Stasis box was made by the Slavers
The stasis box was obtained by Nessus from the Outsiders The stasis box was found on the planet Kzin
Boxes are found by deep radar scan Stasis boxes can detect other boxes
Box contained severed Slaver hand as a trophy Box contained photo of a Slaver
One setting of the device was a projectile-firing weapon (No such setting)
Weapon had seven settings Weapon had nine settings
Device learns then speaks the Kzinti language Device speaks English (Federation standard) immediately
Court Jester crew wore Space Suits Starfleet personnel used Life-support belts


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