Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Fourteen “The Slaver Weapon”

Stardate: 4187.3 (2269)
Original Air Date: December 8, 1973
Writer: Larry Niven
Director: Hal Sutherland       

“Strange how the past sometimes break through into the present.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spock reads the First Officer’s log: The Enterprise shuttlecraft Copernicus is en route to Starbase 25 carrying important cargo, a slaver stasis box discovered by archaeologists on the planet Kzin. Spock, Uhura, and Sulu are aboard. A stasis box is “the most remarkable thing a slaver has ever produced” –inside the box, time stands still. Uhura studied the vague history of the slaver empire, they were once masters of all the intelligent beings in this galaxy a billion years ago. The slavers and all their subjects were exterminated in the war that followed, intelligent life needed to evolve all over again, and now the stasis boxes are all that remains. The stasis boxes have left an indelible effect on science –inside one box, was found a flying belt which was the key to the artificial gravity field used by starships; in another was an artificial bomb with the pin pulled. The boxes are potentially dangerous and rare.

Suddenly, the stasis box begins glowing, indicating perhaps there is another stasis box circling around Beta Lyre, an ice-bound world. However, the crewmen (once again wearing life support belts) are attacked by a group of Kzinti, led by Chuft-Captain (James Doohan) who helms the Traitor’s Claw, who opens the stasis box only to find what is presumed to be the only known image of a slaver, and a rare weapon which has several different settings. The Kzinti intend to use the weapon against the Federation, however the weapon eventually turns on the Kzinti and self-destructs.  

My Thoughts on “The Slaver Weapon”

The idea of an ancient race leaving behind remnants of their vast civilization inside stasis boxes hidden across the galaxy is a great science fiction concept. All creatures desire to leave a legacy that endures throughout the ages. Aspects of this episode can be a bit campy which is standard fare for the Animated Series, however “The Slaver Weapon” gets higher marks from me simply for the crossover with legendary science fiction writer, Larry Niven. His Kzinti creatures blend in well with the broader Trek canon. In addition, it is always great to see Star Trek branch out and try something wholly different, and in this case, Spock, Uhura, and Sulu are given their own separate adventure.


DC Fontana initially approached Larry Niven (1938-present) about writing an episode of TAS. At the time, Larry Niven was an extremely popular figure in the science fiction world, having won both a Hugo and Nebula award for his 1971 novel Ringworld. Larry Niven based this episode on his short story “The Soft Weapon.” Elements of this episode were incorporated into Niven’s “Known Space” series. Niven later remarked that it would be interesting to see what future Star Trek writers decided to do with the Kzinti aliens.

Star Trek Trivia:

  • This is the first Star Trek episode to air absent the presence of James T. Kirk (perhaps because William Shatner was unavailable for this particular voice recording session, or maybe because Larry Niven was given the chance to write a script without Captain Kirk). Scotty and Bones (as well as the character Arex) are also not featured in this episode.
  • Life support belts reappear in this episode.
  • Bob Kline designed the shuttlecraft Copernicus based on Matt Jeffries design concepts for the Leif Ericson.
  • James Doohan voiced all the Kzinti in this episode.
  • Aside from the pink color of the Kzinti ship in this episode (which was the result of Hal Sutherland’s colorblindness) DC Fontana had a favorable view of this episode, as did other Star Trek episodes like David Gerrold.
  • The Kzinti were an aggressive war-like cat species of alien, originally created by Larry Niven.
  • Director Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) directed all episodes of the first season of TAS. He gained early career recognition working on large Disney animation movies before switching to Filmation where he worked on TAS, as well as Flash Gordon, Batman, and Superman animated shows. Notably, pink is a recurring color in TAS. This is because Sutherland was colorblind and thought he was actually selecting the color grey.

Click here to return to my survey of the Star Trek series.

1 thought on “Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Fourteen “The Slaver Weapon”

  1. Spock, Sulu and Uhura were a great team for this one, and quite the change from the trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Thank you for your review and trivia.

    Liked by 2 people

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