written by Larry Niven
unproduced outline, dated around 1967-1969, but never submitted
published in the fanzine Apa-L, 1971 and in the fanzine T-Negative 17, 1972
report & analysis by Dave Eversole
Niven breaks his outline down with Roman numeral subheadings. I'm not sure if he meant for these to be act breaks, or simply story beats. They don't make a great deal of sense as act breaks, as several of them around the middle are so short that four or five of these would have made a viable television act. I've followed Niven's numbering style.
While investigating a Cepheid variable star, the Enterprise's instruments detect activity within the star's photosphere. They soon discover that it is a plasmoid lifeform--probably one that feeds on neutrino emissions. Having fed, the "beast" will go into a period analogous to sleep until the star builds up again. Fortunately the beast is formed of ionized gas, and is easily visible to the Enterprise's sensors.
Suddenly there is renewed activity within the photosphere. The beast, pastel-colored, flows out toward the Enterprise.
The Enterprise is enveloped by the pastel terror. It seems that it not only "eats" neutrinos, but every form of electromagnetic energy. The ship's matter-antimatter fuel is being consumed. There is no way for the Enterprise to escape, no way to get home. Nor would Kirk take the ship home for fear of bringing the beast within range of populated worlds.
Mr. Spock suggests that they separate the saucer section from the main drive. There is a nearby planet, not a Class-M world, but one livable using force domes and protective suits. The saucer section will make for this world, using only the reaction-motor impulse drive. The main drive will be sent into deep space, rigged to go dead and to allow the matter and anti-matter to mix. When the matter-and anti-matter touch it will explode, hopefully killing the beast.
Kirk refuses to allow his ship to be detached, possibly destroyed. Spock, knowing it is the only logical course of action, nerve-pinches Kirk, rendering him unconscious. He has Kirk relieved of command for incompetence, and places him under Doctor McCoy's care.
In Sickbay, Kirk recovers, watches on a viewscreen as the secondary hull pulls away into interstellar space. Already it has gone too far to be recovered, but Kirk still plots a way to do so.
Meanwhile, Spock watches the secondary hull drift deeper into space on his screen. Suddenly, it explodes in a fiery blue-white inferno. The pastel beast slowly dissipates and vanishes.
Enraged, Kirk attempts to beat Spock up, but Spock has him again put under McCoy's care.
Bones confides in Spock that Kirk is so very tied to his ability to command that if he is not allowed to command he may lose his mind. This marvelous argument persuades Spock to hand the reigns back over to Kirk. Kirk is displeased with Spock, and isn't talking to him. Doesn't dig Bones very much either.
The Enterprise's saucer section makes for the planet Cephii One.
The Enterprise arrives at the rather inhospitable Cephii One. They will transport down and set up force domes as the atmosphere is poisonous. They must attempt to rig a source of power for the depleted ship's batteries. Perhaps they will have to build a dam.
The moving down to Cephii from the Enterprise. All equipment is beamed down, and a settlement of force domes is erected near a fork in a river. The personnel, despite the dangers here, seem quite happy to have a bit of "breathing room" after all that time on the cramped Enterprise.
Only Kirk and Spock are left on the Enterprise. One of them must beam down, while the other attempts to pilot the saucer section into the atmosphere, hopefully make a safe landing on the surface.
Spock tells Kirk that he should beam down. "I'll stay here and probably get killed," Spock tells him.
Kirk, who is worried that Spock would be killed, tries a line on him. He asks Spock why his father married his mother. "He said it seemed the logical thing to do," Spock replies.
Wrong! Kirk tells him that there must have been a purely logical reason. Perhaps Sarek was simply trying to improve the human race.
Could be, Spock says.
Well, Kirk tells him, there are plenty of human women waiting down there for you to seduce them in order to produce superior offspring, thus improving the human race. You must beam down with me, let the saucer come down on its own.
"No, there's too much needed equipment onboard--it must be piloted down," says Spock. "I'll beam down, you stay here and probably get killed."
Spock beams down, watches with the rest of the stranded crew as the saucer enters the atmosphere. It glows red hot, comes in low over a horizon. It touches down, skips across the surface of the planet like a flat rock across the surface of a lake, at last comes to rest.
Spock grabs a pressure suit for Kirk, sprints to the wreckage, pries his way inside.
Kirk is not there!
Spock returns to the main dome, only to find Kirk waiting there for him. He beamed out of the saucer section before it crashed.
We see the construction of the colony that the crew of the Enterprise establishes on Cephii. They build a dam.
We learn that the only signaling equipment left is sublight. They may be here for decades.
While exploring on his own, looking for ore, Chekov comes face-to-face with a twenty-foot tall dragon wearing a pressure suit.
It is a Sirian.
Kirk, et al., sit on very tall chairs and talk with the Sirian whose people are here to mine radioactives. The Federation and the Sirians have been friendly for a century.
Lucky for the Enterprise crew it found them.
The Sirians will take them home, one presumes.
Niven, himself, pointed out many reasons why this outline would not have sold, and those very reasons kept him from even submitting it to the program.
1. Too many expensive special effects/sets.
2. Spock betrays Kirk, though the reasons seem logical at the time.
3. Its length -- he envisioned it as a two hour program, possibly three.
I agree with him (like I'm really going to argue with the Master!). It would make a marvelous two-hour film, repopulated with original characters, or a dandy novel.
Laurence van Cott Niven (1938- ): Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author, perhaps best known for his 1970 novel Ringworld, and his "Known Space" stories and novels, which include the famous Kzinti race. His first story appeared in 1964, and he has been a full-time writer ever since. For television, he has written for Land of The Lost, Star Trek (The Animated Series) and the 1990's revival of The Outer Limits.
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