Friday, January 10, 2014

"Try to Look Harmless"

"The Soft Weapon."
By Larry Niven.
Short story.
First appeared in Worlds of IF, February 1967.
Adapted for TV in 1973.
Another science fiction short story that got the Hollywood treatment, this time with some respect:
. . . 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. — Curt Danhauser, GUIDE TO THE ANIMATED 'STAR TREK' (HERE and HERE)
Spock, Uhura, and Sulu are en-route on a shuttlecraft to deliver a Slaver stasis box—an artifact from a long-dead civilization inside of which time stands still—to Starbase 25. On their way, the box gives off a signal that another box is nearby. Investigating, they determine that the 2nd box is on an ice world. Once there, they are captured by the Kzinti, a feline race that wish to return to their dominance they once had. The Kzinti hope that the others' stasis box holds a means to do that. One thing in that box is a device of sorts that transforms into various devices: a Slaver Weapon. Knowing that in the wrong hands, the Slaver Weapon could bring havoc to the Galaxy, Spock and his team escape and try to get the weapon back . . . — Tony-B4, IMDb
Some dialogue from the TV episode:

UHURA: Where are we?
SPOCK: A Kzinti spacecraft.
SULU: That isn't good. Kzinti aren't supposed to have phasers, are they?
SPOCK: The Treaty of Sirius does not permit them any weapons at all, beyond police vessels. Obviously, the treaty has been broken.
SULU [looks down]: A police web. We won't be able to move unless we can turn it off somehow.
[A group of cats in spacesuits enter]
SPOCK: The lean, bedraggled one is a reader of minds.
UHURA: I've heard all Kzinti telepaths are unhappy neurotics. He fits the description.
SPOCK: There is no sure way to guard our thoughts from him. Mister Sulu, he is not likely to deal with me or Lieutenant Uhura. She and I are inferior beings to them. But the Kzinti are meat eaters. If you sense him reading your mind, think of eating a raw vegetable.
SULU: Yes, sir. Maybe I can goad them into revealing their purpose.
SPOCK: Lieutenant Uhura. This may be crucial. In the presence of the Kzinti, do not say anything, do not do anything startling. Try to look harmless.
UHURA: Any special reason?
SPOCK: Are you forgetting Kzinti females are dumb animals? In an emergency the Kzinti may forget a human female is an intelligent creature.
UHURA: Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Resources:
- A transcript of "The Slaver Weapon" is HERE.
- Online video (21 minutes 10 seconds) is, for the moment, HERE.

Category: Science fiction

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