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"The Slaver Weapon" was the 14th episode aired of Star Trek: The Animated Series, later novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Star Trek Log Ten. The episode itself adapts Larry Niven's short story "The Soft Weapon." In the episode, Spock, Uhura and Sulu are en route to Starbase 25 with a priceless artifact, a Slaver stasis box, when they are captured by Kzinti intent on possessing the secrets of the box. How Starfleet came upon the box, and what the USS Enterprise was doing at the time, are described in the book. The episode's events were adapted in the book's chapters 6, 8, and 10.

Description

Another exciting episode from television's most popular science fiction series.
Complete in this volume: Slaver Weapon.
A Slaver stasis box—a relic of a fabulous, long-dead civilization—is discovered on a remote planet. The Slavers died out millennia ago, but their powerful weapons have been well preserved in these boxes which are found throughout the galaxy.
Whoever possesses such weapons controls a lot of power, and so Kirk and the crew want to get this one into secure hands as quickly as possible.
But they are not the only ones who have designs on the Slaver weapon... and the fate of the Federation hangs in the balance!

Summary

On stardate 5538.6 (novel), Uhura sends a personal letter to her parents, then recalls a rite of adulthood on her 16th birthday, ceremonially spearing a mechanical replica of a lion in the Serengeti. She is brought back to attention by a priority coded call from the Federation ambassador to Briamos, Joseph Laiguer, and Commodore Musashi of Starbase 25. Briamos is a recently-discovered, non-aligned, highly-industrious society made up of five inhabited planets over three star systems. Their government had, without warning, scheduled a conference to decide whether to ally with the Federation or Klingon Empire. Noted for impatience, the Briamosites will not wait for Laiguer to travel to the conference. Instead, the Enterprise will divert to Starbase 25, Kirk and Spock will immerse themselves in Briamosite culture, and then Kirk will take Laiguer's place at the conference. Musashi expresses the critical importance of an alliance with Briamos.

After altering course, Uhura picks up another priority call, this one from a low-power transmitter from Director Shannon Masid, in charge of an expedition to Gruyakin VI. Masid has been trying to reach Starfleet for two weeks to report that they've found a sealed Slaver stasis box. The box is priceless and has to be retrieved. Unable to divert the Enterprise, Spock agrees to take Sulu and Uhura with him in the shuttlecraft Copernicus to get the box. Spock estimates they can rendezvous back at Starbase 25 in one week, before the Enterprise departs for Briamos. They will miss the briefings but can catch up with tapes.

Copernicus lands on Gruyakin VI near the expedition's base, a group of pressurized domes. Unfortunately, an excavator for the team, Jaiao Beguin, has stolen the priceless artifact and has holed up in their supply dome. Beguin threatens to destroy the stasis box with an excavating crusher if he isn't given the researchers' shuttle to escape. He also has rigged a dead-man switch that will activate the crusher and destroy the box should he fall asleep or be attacked. He decides he can remain alert for forty hours from stimulants he's taken, so they have that long to accede to his demands. Spock's solution: use excavating displacers to tunnel under the dome and up into one of the large storage containers behind Beguin, then attack him from behind.

Nineteen hours later, as Spock distracts Beguin with appeals to surrender, the narrow tunnel is finished. Sulu crawls through, empties the contents of the storage container into the tunnel below, then quietly cuts his way out of the container. He maneuvers to a spot to attack Beguin, but at an inconvenient moment Beguin catches sight of Sulu and triggers the dead-man switch. The pressure from the crusher triggers a bright flash from the box, stopping the crusher and freezing Beguin within a silver stasis field. Spock says Beguin will remain within the field until a Federation team can arrive to arrest him and disrupt the field. Spock points out they do not know the limits of the stasis box's defenses — further tampering might encase the whole base in a stasis field. Therefore, Spock, Uhura and Sulu leave with the box, and will not try opening it until they reach Starbase 25.

Back on the Enterprise, M'ress suddenly feels ill and is excused to go to sickbay. Her relief, Lt. Talliflores, takes over for a double-shift. Kirk calls sickbay three hours later only to learn that M'ress has not arrived and won't respond to intercom calls. In fact, M'ress is attacking a technician in the arboretum.

First Officer's log, stardate 4187.3. (episode)
The Enterprise shuttlecraft Copernicus is en route to Starbase 25 with an important cargo: a Slaver stasis box discovered by archaeologists on the planet Kzin. (See Appendices for noted differences between episode and novel.)

Passing by Beta Lyrae, the box glows blue, with a teardrop projection from the glow pointing outside the ship. Spock recognizes it as having detected another stasis box.

First Officer's log, supplemental. (episode)
Stasis boxes and their contents are the only remnant of a species which ruled most of this galaxy a billion years ago. Their effect on science has been incalculable. In one was found a flying belt which was the key to the artificial gravity field used by starships. Another box contained a disruptor bomb, with the pin pulled. As a result, all stasis boxes are now under the jurisdiction of Starfleet, and only certain key specialists handle them. The boxes are rare, potentially dangerous, and we seem to have found a second one.
(novel) Stasis boxes and their contents are the only remnant of a species powerful enough to have ruled, once, an entire section of our galaxy. Their effect on our sciences has been incalculable. In one box was found the flying belt which was the key to the artificial gravity field presently employed on starships. Hence my decision to forego the briefings preparatory to the conference on Briamos in favor or pursuing a positive lead to another such box in the Beta Lyrae system.

Sulu pilots the shuttle down to an icy world orbiting the star, landing near the source of the signal. Donning life support belts, they go outside, with Spock carrying the stasis box as a location aide. The walk to a point about thirty meters above the second box. Sulu prepares to fire a phaser, pointing out that the ice will boil in the low pressure once the phaser melts it. Suddenly, six suited Kzinti appear and capture them.

First Officer's log, supplemental. (episode)
I must take full responsibility for this event. Instead of being warned by the highly unlikely coincidence of a second stasis box, I allowed its possible value to influence my judgement. The Kzinti now possess our stasis box. Its contents will determine how much damage my error has done the Federation and its people.

Sulu, Uhura and Spock are placed aboard the Kzinti's spacecraft in a restraining police web while Kzinti set up a stasis field dampener. Seeing a Kzinti telepath, Spock warns there is no way to defend their thoughts, though visualizing the eating of raw vegetables will help. And, as a strategy, Spock reminds Uhura that Kzinti females are non-intelligent and she might be able to mislead the Kzinti if she acts in a docile manner.

On the Enterprise, all three of the ship's Caitians are missing and attacking the crew seemingly at random. The attacked technician says M'ress acted more like a wild animal than a crewman, yet didn't kill him. The Caitians also seem somewhat resistant to phaser fire. Security teams take casualties but fail to catch them. Kirk sees a method in their madness as they appear to be heading for the bridge. Since the bridge will afford the Caitians no cover, Kirk calls off security and instead has them watched. Leonard McCoy arrives with a dart gun full of ke'eloveen, a tranquilizer stronger than a phaser stun. Presently, the Caitians arrive and are subdued after a fight. However, M'ress is still at large, and when lights and communications go out, they realize she is in the service crawlway that rims the bridge.

Kzinti Chuft-Captain arrives, and Sulu gets him to reveal that the Kzinti are operatives seeking weapons with which to attack the Federation. The stasis field is deactivated, and the box is opened to reveal some raw meat, an image of a sentient reptilian believed to be a Slaver, and a green bubble with a handle on one end, which the Kzinti proclaim to be a weapon unlike any previously found.

First Officer's log, supplemental. (episode)
The Kzinti now possess a weapon potentially deadly to the entire galaxy. The extent of its power remains to be seen.

The prisoners are moved to the surface and re-secured in the police web as target practice. Chuft-Captain moves a toggle along the handle and the sphere of the weapon changes shape, frightening him. As they inspect various other settings, Chuft-Captain points it near Sulu and pulls the trigger, firing a laser. Other settings reveal a telescope, communications device, and ones that have no clear effect. One is a small rocket, pulling Chuft-Captain off his feet, knocking Uhura out of the police web, and piercing Telepath's spacesuit. Uhura races for cover until Chuft-Captain reminds them that human females are intelligent. She is phaser-stunned and brought back to the police web. The next setting is an energy absorber which shuts off lights and the police web, but leaves their life-support belts working. Uhura and Sulu run for the shuttle, while Spock kicks Chuft-Captain to impinge upon his honor, and then grabs the weapon. Uhura is still weakened from her last escape attempt and is recaptured.

McCoy discovers that twice-yearly injections of pheraligen are given to female Caitians to reduce certain hormone levels at this time of year. The routine procedure was noted in the science officer duty log which Lt. Vedama had missed. The female Caitians were trying to change the ship's course to their homeworld to find male Caitians. Scotty manages to tranquilize M'ress from behind her in the service crawlway while Kirk distracts her.

Sulu and Spock make it to cover. Sulu theorizes the mysterious weapon belonged to a spy because it is impractical for a soldier, but useful for covert missions. Spock explains that Chuft-Captain will not call for help until he has regained his honor from having been attacked by an herbivorous pacifist. Chuft-Captain calls to barter for the weapon with Uhura's life. Meanwhile, Sulu finds another setting and fires it far in the distance. The narrow beam creates an atomic blast cloud, total conversion of matter to energy, a weapon unknown to Federation science. Shock waves from the blast knock them out, and the weapon automatically resets itself to its first, null setting.

They awake back in the police web, with the Kzinti twisting the weapon again to find other settings. They come upon a miniature AI computer, and asks it how to find the total conversion beam setting. The AI complies, but the resulting setting does not appear as when Sulu used it. The Kzinti go outside to test it, but the AI self-destructs, killing the Kzinti and leaving a gaping crater and a hole in the side of the ship. Spock, Sulu and Uhura leave for Starbase 25 in their shuttle.

The Enterprise docks at Starbase 25. Kirk, Scott and the recovered M'ress meet with sociologist Chu Leiski, an assistant to Ambassador Laiguer, who briefs them on Briamos for a few days. A few hours before their scheduled departure, Copernicus arrives, bearing their now-empty stasis box.

En route to Briamos, the ship is buffeted strongly and damaged by radiation from an unmarked pulsar. They discover that it had been marked, with warning buoys which are suspiciously no longer broadcasting. Colonel-Greeter Plivver greets the damaged Enterprise once it achieves, orbiting along with five Briamosite warships as a show of force, and Kirk expects the same had happened with the Klingon ship that had arrived three days earlier. They are assigned an orbit near the Klingons, and as they approach, they see a sparkling, polished battle cruiser. The Briamosites attach much importance to appearance. Kirk recognizes the ship as being that of Kumara, a Klingon with whom Kirk had taken classes at the Interspecies Academy, and whom they had dealt with earlier that year. Kumara hails and confesses to having removed certain "non-functioning debris" which were determined to be "hazards of navigation." Kumara is an unusual Klingon with a sense of humor and strong diplomatic skills. To outmaneuver the Klingons, Kirk decides to take advantage of their stasis box by having Scott rig a fake stasis field around it. Its presence will be regarded as a symbol of respect, and it will be an impossible-to-resist lure for the Klingons to steal. Once Kumara breaches the Briamosite's trust, the conference will be over.

As they beam down, a transporter malfunction caused by pulsar damage greatly adds to the complications of the mission. The transporter transposes the personalities of Kirk, Spock, Sulu and Uhura: Kirk is in Sulu's body, Spock is in Uhura's body, Sulu is in Spock's body, and Uhura is in Kirk's body. Scotty goes to work figuring out why it happened, estimating at least a couple of days are needed. They will have to proceed with the mission. Uhura and Sulu will have to convincingly portray Kirk and Spock at the conference.

On the first day, speeches are given by Kumara and Uhura, followed by a two-hour-long parade that nearly breaks Kumara's patience. The next day, formal presentations are made by Sulu and Kumara's executive officer, followed by Q&As, and then, before the day ends, Uhura presents the stasis box, astounding Kumara: Klingons have only discovered one box within their territory. A tricorder scan confirms the box as being a billion years old. When Uhura offers to open the box, Kumara panics, knowing full well the pitfalls. A recess is ordered while the Briamosites discuss the day's events.

Four hours later, they announce a decision to ally with the Federation. Not taking no for an answer, Kumara abducts the Briamosite Council and the Starfleet officers, beaming them aboard his ship, but he is unable to convince the Briamosites to withdraw their alliance or to sign a neutrality agreement. He forces Uhura to fight a massive Klingon warrior, but Spock in Uhura's body is able to defeat him. In resignation, Kumara releases his captives but keeps the stasis box.

Scott beams back the landing party, successfully reintegrating them into their correct bodies. Kumara is furious to discover within the stasis box a display rigged by Scott: holographic fireworks playing the Federation Interstellar Anthem.

References

Characters

Episode characters

Chuft-CaptainFlyerSpockHikaru SuluTelepathNyota UhuraSlaver weapon

Novelization characters

AndersonArex Na EthAteteJaiao BeguinChristine ChapelCharlieChelleaChuft-CaptainDastagirDickersonFlyerHasmidJorgensonKaldinKasukiKearlyJames T. KirkKivordKlaythiaKoraKumaraJoseph LaiguerChu LeiskiShannon MasidShiboline M'RessLeonard McCoyMusashiM'viorePliverR'leezSanchezSarvusMontgomery ScottJarrod ShuldaSpockHikaru SuluTallifloresTelepathAlhamisi UhuraNyota UhuraVedamaSlaver weapon
Referenced only
ChevalierShawn Ge-YrmisHilamboKrenskyLooLoupasM'raddO'HyrSuarezTrancasM'Umbha Uhura (not named) • David UhuraUchawi Uhura

Starships and vehicles

Episode
Copernicus (Federation shuttlecraft) • Traitor's Claw (Kzinti police vessel)
Novelization only
crawlerelectric land cruiserUSS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • shuttlecraftunnamed Klingon starships (Kumara's battle cruiser)

Locations

Episode
Beta Lyrae planetoid (Beta Lyrae system, Lyra constellation, the galaxy's Alpha Quadrant)
Referenced only
Starbase 25Starfleet Headquarters
Novelization only
Briamos system (Briamos) • Earth (Bombay, IndiaKenyaSerengetiKilimanjaro) • Gruyakin system (Gruyakin VI) • Starbase 25
Referenced only
Kampala, UgandaMakere University HospitalNiamosSector 14Starbase 14Vulcan

Races and cultures

Episode
HumanKzintiSlaverVulcan
Novelization only
BriamositeCaitianEdosianKlingon
Referenced only
FiorellianhumanoidPandronian

States and organizations

Episode
Kzin PatriarchySlaver EmpireStarfleetUnited Federation of Planets
Novelization only
Eridani GryfalconsFederation Diplomatic CorpsFederation Science League (Federation Archeological Expedition 462) • Federation tridimensional hockey championshipKitui ProvinceKenya, AfricaKlingon EmpireUnited Systems of Briamos (Council of Greater Briamos)

Science and technology

Episode
communicatorlife support beltpolice webshuttlecraftSlaver stasis boxstarshipstasis field nullifiersubspace radio
Stasis box contents
antigravity beltartificial gravitydisruptor bombenergy absorberhieroglyph (novel) • lasermetal-ceramic polymer wrap (novel) • parabolic mirrorpersonal rocket-motorphotographportable telescopesentient computersimuhologram (novel) • Slaver weapontotal-conversion beam
Novelization only
adrenalineairlockarcheologybridgebridge service crawlwayclass-AA-shieldcompactorcoordinatesenergy stormfluid-state switchfourth-degree amplitude broadcasthoming beaconK-6 starke'eloveenmicrotapemind-to-body transpositionmodel 6BB displacerneuro-drugphaser batterypheraligenpower packramprectifierrelay stationrobot lionsaddlestasis fieldsyringe-darttranquilizer pistoltranslatorstricordervariable pulsarventilation systemviewscreenwaviclewavicle rectification systemwarning buoywrist chronometer

Ranks and titles

Episode
captaincommandercommanding officercommunications officerFederation Starfleet ranksFederation Starfleet ranks (2260s)first officerhelmsmanlieutenantofficerscientistscience officerweapons officer
Novelization only
ambassadorcommodoreColonel-Greeterdiplomatdirectorengineerexcavatorleaderpsychologistquartermastersecond engineervice-leader

Other references

Episode
atmosphereclothingcommunicatorEarth-Kzin Warsgovernmenthomeworldhumanoidlanguagelifeformlog entrylogicmattermeatplanetplanetoidquadrantraces and culturesrankspacestarstar systemStarfleet uniformStarfleet uniform (2260s)technologytitleTreaty of Siriusuniformuniverseviewscreenweaponwiddershins
Novelization only
aliendeck eight recreational forestarchitectureatmospherebeachboxingcabinCaitrogencivilizationdiplomacyElysiumFederation DayFederation Interstellar AnthemFirst officer's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)five-year missionfleetfoodgasgovernmenthomeworldhormoneInterspecies AcademyJournal of Starfleet Physicianslionlog entrylogicMarquess of Queensberry RulesMasai braidsmetermind-stanzamountainnation-stateoceanorbitostrichplasticproteinsandsecondary bridgeself-hypnotismshuttle bayspaceStyxSzygenic musictransporter roomtridimensional hockeyvegetationvolcano

Chronology

1 billion years ago
The Slaver Empire ruled this part of the galaxy until one race revolted. The resulting wars obliterated all life in this part of the galaxy, and intelligent life had to evolve all over again. All that remained of the Slavers were Slaver stasis boxes.
1972
A hospital was established in Kampala, Uganda. In 1978 it was given hospital status and named Makere University Hospital. By stardate 4187.3, Uhura's brother David Uhura worked there as a researcher. (novel)
2060s or 2070s
Kzinti fought four Earth-Kzin Wars with humankind, losing all of them, 200 years prior to the events of this story. Chuft-Captain felt the reason was that humans always had superior equipment.
Prior to 2151
A Slaver stasis box was opened containing an anti-gravity belt, leading to the development of antigravity used on starships. (The box must have been found prior to the first episode of ENT.)
2255
A traditional maturation ritual in Kitui Province, Kenya was amended to allow both men and women to participate when they reached 16 years of age. (novel)
stardate 4187.3, 2269 (2260s chronology, 2264–2270 Enterprise voyages)
Enterprise travels to Starbase 25. (novel)
2293
An annex of the Galactic Historical Archives of the Federation receives many logs of the starship USS Enterprise transcribed by archivist Alan Dean Foster upon the retirement of Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk. (Star Trek Logs omnibus introductions, date from TNG movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Generations)

Appendices

Related stories

Background

  • This episode is the only time in The Original Series franchise since TOS episode: "The Cage" that Captain James T. Kirk is not featured. All other canon episodes and movies have Kirk in them.
  • This is the tenth and final of Alan Dean Foster's TAS adaptations which have been reprinted a number of times, often in omnibuses with other Star Trek Log books. Most recently in 2006 by Del Rey Books as part of Star Trek's 40th Anniversary celebrations. In fact this was also the first Star Trek book published by Del Rey after it was created as an imprint of the publisher of the rest of the Star Trek Logs series Ballantine Books.
  • The episode itself was adapted by Larry Niven from his 1967 story, "The Soft Weapon." The characters of Sulu, Uhura, and Spock replaced the characters from the original story, Jason and Anne-Marie Pompadou, and the Pierson's Puppeteer, Nessus. Also, there are a few other, minor differences from the short story to the episode.
  • This book established some background on Nyota Uhura stating that traditional maturation rituals in United States of Africa were changed in 2055 so that women underwent them too.
  • Federation Day was mentioned, as was the Federation Interstellar Anthem.
  • The pill is stated to still exist in the 23rd century, taken monthly in capsule form.
  • Klingon Captain Kumara returned, having previously appeared in Log Seven, the adaptation of TAS episode: "The Counter-Clock Incident". Kumara first appeared in a two-part script Alan Dean Foster submitted for a potential season-four episode of TOS. In the novel, Kirk recognized Kumara's Klingon cruiser around Briamos, though it wasn't specified how it differed in appearance from other Klingon cruisers.
  • On the copyright page, the book did not credit the TAS episode as the source of material being novelized, but rather said it "is based in part" on Niven's "The Soft Weapon." Alan Dean Foster said he was sensitive that he wasn't just adapting an animated episode, but also Niven's Known Space work, which Foster likened to a "shared-world anthology" in which Niven couldn't partake, so Foster was "careful not to mess around" with the episode's contents. (The Fifty-Year Mission, Part 1)
  • Having found that bigger weapon with which to attack the Federation, the Kzinti returned in 2273 in TOS comic: "The Wristwatch Plantation", a comic strip story co-written by Niven.
  • The Enterprise had an automated censor that edits outgoing personal communications. It censored the ship's location information and mission details in a message Uhura dictated at the beginning of the novel.
  • Three female Caitians served on the Enterprise in 2270, and no males.

Notable differences between episode and novel

  • Stardates and episode order. The novel covered 5538.6-5539.2 (title page), while the episode's events began on 4187.3. The novel was set shortly after TAS episode: "Bem", with Uhura referencing those events in a letter to her parents. The episode took place after either TAS episode: "The Time Trap" or TAS episode: "The Ambergris Element" if by production or airdate order (see Timeline table). Author Alan Dean Foster deliberately changed the sequence of episodes and their stardates in his TAS novelizations in order "to make it flow as a book as best I could." (The Fifty-Year Mission, Part 1)
  • How the stasis boxes were found. In the episode, Chuft-Captain said: "Kzinti archaeologists found both boxes, but the one we managed to keep was empty." Spock's log confirmed that the box they carried was "discovered by archaeologists on the planet Kzin." In the novel, however, Kzinti had discovered only one empty box some time ago. Starfleet archeologists uncovered a new box on Gruyakin VI. Kzinti learned of this box from Director Masid's transmissions. Traitor's Claw hastily retrieved the old Kzinti box to use as a lure to steal Starfleet's box. Such a change would have been required for story logic and the need to craft a novel out of a 22-minute script. If Spock, Uhura and Sulu had gone to Kzin and picked up a stasis box, not only would that have been a very short story, but Spock would have been hyper aware of Kzin threats, and would have been too suspicious to fall for Chuft-Captain's trap. For the episode's segment of the novel to work, for the value of a second box to outweigh the suspicions of a trap, and for them to be surprised at finding Kzinti in the episode portion of the novel, Spock's suspicions would have to be reduced and they could not yet have run into Kzinti. Yet Foster still went to great lengths not to contradict the episode. Chuft-Captain claimed Gruyakin VI was a Kzin planet, and both boxes lawfully belonged to Kzin. Therefore, from his point of view, both boxes were technically found by Kzinti archeologists.
  • Disposition of stasis boxes. In the episode, Spock said in his log: "All stasis boxes are now under the jurisdiction of Starfleet, and only certain key specialists handle them." In the novel, Spock intended to have Scott build a stasis-field disruptor and then open the box aboard the Enterprise. Either Spock was considered to be a key specialist, or that aspect of the episode was changed.
  • Appearance of the box. Shot 2 in the final draft script (7/23/73) described it as "a mirror-sided cube twenty inches on a side." In the novel, it was a cube, 50cm per side, with a silvery mirrored surface. Both matched descriptions of a box in Niven's story "The Soft Weapon" and of an active stasis field in the novel "World of Ptavvs." In the episode, it was yellow, oblong, rectangular.
  • Contents of the box. In the episode, the box contained a printed photograph, which Sulu thought might be of a Slaver. In the novel a silver ball projected a hologram with an accompanying psychological suggestion of size and menace. Also, the fifth setting of the weapon, a personal rocket-motor, did not look like it could be ridden in the episode, but in the novel it was described as being similar to a saddle with stirrups.
  • Number of Kzinti: In the episode, there were five (Chuft-Captain, Telepath, Flyer, Kzinti Fourth and Kzinti Fifth). In the novel there were a half-dozen. In "The Soft Weapon," there were four (Chuft-Captain, Telepath, Flyer, and Slaverstudent).
  • Appearance of Beta Lyrae: In the episode, an image of a galaxy was used to represent the general vicinity of Beta Lyrae, and, as Copernicus got closer, the double-star itself was depicted like a side view of a solar system with one large star, one small star, and several concentric red smoky rings. In the novel, script, and "The Soft Weapon," it was described as a double-star with material from one star being pulled into the other, then ejected outward as red rings, very much like Chesley Bonestell's 1960 painting of Beta Lyrae. The dramatic purple stripes in the ice planet's sky were in the script "smoke-red stripes" radiating out from Beta Lyrae.

Tidbits from Niven's source material

  • From the script, Scene 40: "Chuft-Captain withdraws a holograph of a Slaver, a large Reptilian creature, studies it, puts it aside." The episode depicted a printed photo of a tall, one-eyed reptile. The novel described a hologram of the reptile. The script provided no further details on the appearance of the Slaver, yet it was clearly influenced by Niven's source material. The Slaver resembled the drawing of a Thrint on the inside cover of Niven's paperback edition of "World of Ptavvs," drawn by Bonnie Dalzell, and the painting of a Thrint made in 1979 for "Barlow's Guide to Extraterrestrials" that was based on Niven's stories.
  • Uhura and Spock said Slavers were rulers of this part of the galaxy until one race revolted, but Starfleet's information was "sketchy." In the Known Space version of events, a surviving Slaver (stuck in a stasis field on Earth for more than a billion years) deduced from evidence that a revolt by tnucitpun had resulted in the death of his species and all other known intelligent life between 1 and 2 billion years earlier ("World of Ptavvs").
  • Stasis boxes came in different shapes.
  • In the episode, the only known stasis-box detector was another stasis box. In the book, deep-radar scanning could also locate a box.
  • The police ship's name, Traitor's Claw, was chosen to support the fiction that the Kzin were acting on their own.
  • Kzinti telepaths were naturally only minimally telepathic. Their ability to read minds came about as "forced addicts" of a drug that rendered them neurotic and 999/1000 others insane. It would have driven Telepath insane to read a herbivore's mind.
  • Kzin had found their box "several decades" earlier. Though it contained "nothing useful," they used it to lie in wait around Beta Lyrae. Chuft-Captain sait this was their "second catch" entrapping passersby carrying stasis boxes.
  • The box was the first stasis box ever found that had been left by a spy, as the weapon handle fit a tnucitpun hand, not a Thrint's. In addition to the raw meat and spy weapon, the stasis box also contained bullets for the weapon, a cap (suspected of being able to block Slaver telepathy), a hydrogen peroxide solution, and a communicator. Instead of a picture of a Slaver, appropriate for an episode of a cartoon, it contained a severed Thrint hand. The weapon was clear silver with a bronze-colored handle, and the handle was grooved for a hand of six fingers and opposing thumbs. The second box had been purchased from a race called the Outsiders for a "lordly sum."
  • The existence of total conversion and self-destruct settings was deduced because total conversion was the only type of power source small enough to fit in the handle and that could power the rocket motor setting.
  • When suggesting a trade of the weapon for their female hostage, Chuft-Captain threatened to eat one of the woman's arms, then the other, then a leg. Eventually her torture resulted in an amputation.
  • When the weapon self-destructed, the Kzinti were still aboard their ship. The prisoners were protected within the police web while the Kzin were splattered against the ship's walls. ("The Soft Weapon")

Plot oddities

  • The stasis box owned by the Kzinti, the one which was used to lure the Copernicus to Beta Lyrae, was not shown, leaving its fate uncertain. However, it was cited as being destroyed along with part of Traitor's Claw when the weapon self-destructed. (novelization)
  • The fifth Slaver weapon setting, an energy absorber, shut off the police web holding Spock, Sulu, and Uhura. It shut off the lights in the cave. It did not shut off the life support belts. No explanation was given for how that was possible, in either the episode or novel. It was not a plot problem in "The Soft Weapon" because those characters wore spacesuits. (One explanation might be that the belts were bioelectrically-powered.)
  • Spock estimated a week's duration for the mission: take the shuttle to Gruyakin VI, retrieve the box, and meet the Enterprise at Starbase 25. An unexpected 19 hours were spent thwarting the thief Jaiao Beguin, but by chapter 6 they were back on schedule. The events of the episode appeared to take perhaps a day. When Copernicus arrived at Starbase 25, Kirk said Copernicus was three days overdue. Yet, Copernicus was not overdue; it arrived at exactly the time Kirk and Spock anticipated when planning the mission: after the briefings but before the Enterprise could depart.
  • Lt. Talliflores was assigned to relieve M'Ress at communications while Uhura was on the mission, and was to do double-shifts in exchange for increased recreation time. Relief communications officer Lt. Elizabeth Palmer was not mentioned.
  • Though much more clearly defined in TNG and ENT, Earth in the 23rd century had a post-scarcity economy. The corn and hog farming said to be performed by Uhura's parents would likely be motivated by something other than profit.
  • The Enterprise flew into a disruptive energy storm caused by a variable pulsar. They were not warned because warning beacons around the pulsar were inoperative. However, earlier in the book when Kirk asked if the locations of the Briamos systems were programmed into the navigation system, Sulu said it was added "at the last input session." It seems unlikely that the ship's navigation system would be updated to include new star systems like Briamos without also including locations for known navigation hazards, particularly a variable pulsar that had beacons installed around it.

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Timeline

published order
Previous novelization:
Log Nine
Star Trek Logs Next novelization:
last in the series
Previous episode:
The Time Trap
TAS episode produced Next episode:
The Eye of the Beholder
Previous episode:
The Ambergris Element
TAS episode aired Next episode:
The Eye of the Beholder
Previous story:
Log Nine
Stories by:
Alan Dean Foster
Next story:
In Thy Image
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Bem
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Patient Parasites


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