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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

Softener Key  
   

He picked up the flat-nosed softener key...

Twing was tough, but not invulnerable...Phssthpok applied the softener key to the twing. Thump - and a foot of crude glass rod slammed through the twing.

From Protector, by Larry Niven.
Published by Del Rey in 1973
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