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Urban Myth: Legal Issues Behind the "The Slaver Weapon"
by Greg Tyler
November 22, 2006

One popular myth among Star Trek fans is that there was a legal entanglement between Larry Niven and the producers of the animated Star Trek television series over the episode "The Slaver Weapon." This episode, written by Niven, features the Kzinti, a felinoid species reminiscent of the Kzinti from Niven's Known Space series of novels and short stories.

In December 2002, to learn the truth behind the myth, I contacted Larry Niven through his web site and asked him directly. Here was his reply (email addresses removed):

From : email address removed
Sent : Friday, December 20, 2002 2:04 PM
To : email address removed
Subject : Thank You for using my FAQ

Here is my answer to your question:
You asked me: I'm a Star Trek fan, and I wanted to ask about what could possibly be nothing more than an urban myth.

Is there some kind of legal controversy surrounding "The Slaver Weapon," an episode of the animated Star Trek television series?


My response:
"The Slaver Weapon" was adapted, with permission, from Niven's story "The Soft Weapon." Then "The Slaver Weapon was novelized in Star Trek Log Ten into a short Story by Foster. Niven has gotten all the credit he deserves for having written the original story. He may not have been thrilled about the re-adaptation, but AFAIK, there isn't any legal battle looming.

Larry has this to say:

The sequence went like this:
I published "The Soft Weapon", a novelet.
Gene Rodenberry suggested I turn it into a Star Trek animation. Hence "The Slaver Weapon".
The company sold novelization rights to Ballantine Books.
Alan Dean Foster did the novelization.
So I wound up competing with myself, and I find that annoying, but no legal action was ever threatened nor taken.

Larry Niven

Thanks to Larry Niven and the webmaster of Larry Niven's web site for sharing this information.

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