a) First broadcast: 15th December 1973
In this story by Larry Niven, adapted from his short story "The Soft Weapon", we discover stasis boxes that are all that are left behind by a long gone alien civilisation and perfectly preserve whatever they contain.
Inside a box discovered in this story is a weapon that changes form sometimes looking almost gourde like, but seems to only be barely useful, perhaps as an item idea for a spy or espionage.
Later they manage to have it transform into a weapon that shoots a "total conversion beam" creating explosions the size of a nuclear bomb blast, then it transforms into a reasoning computer that decides to turn into a self destructing device in the hands of the Kzinti extra-terrestrials.
|Polymorphous artifact from "The Slaver Weapon"|
b) Soft polymorphism
So I find myself asking if perhaps the idea that the alien spore is almost timeless along with the facehugger contained within from Alien echoes the stasis box left behind by a long lost ancient civilisation and its contents and then the facehugger as an initial stage of a polymorphous insect like lifecycle reflects the polymorphous nature of this strange weapon found inside.
Niven's idea for a weapon also loosely reflects the idea of Dali's surrealism and the use of the word "soft" as in "soft architecture" and "soft watches".
|Illustration by Jerry Mayes, from Trumpet #10|
Copyright © 1969 by Tom Reamy
- Larry Niven: In "Soft Weapon" the word soft is used as Salvador Dali used it: mutable . I had the notion of an advanced spy device built by aliens. (Forward to The Neutron Star short story collection, March 23rd, 2013)
- Larry Niven: The weapons are of the Soft Weapon type: "soft" in the sense used by Salvidor Dali, in that the weapon changes shape. (DOWN IN FLAMES, OUTLINE FOR AN UNWRITTEN EPIC NOVEL BY LARRY NIVEN (c) 1977 by Larry Niven)
Below Images from The Slaver Weapon