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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Variable Sword  
  A sword that could vary in length, and cut through anything.  

Among the various inventions which make use of a Slaver stasis field, the variable-sword was one of the more elegant. Very compact, which was very handy for the kzin who wielded it.

"I have a variable-sword," said Speaker-to-Animals. "I urge calm." The kzin stood against a curved wall. In one clawed fist he held something like an oversized jump rope handle. Ten feet from the handle, held expertly at the level of the kzin's eyes, was a small, glowing red ball. The wire which joined ball to handle was too thin to be visible, but Louis didn't doubt it was there. Protected and made rigid by a Slaver stasis field, the wire would cut through most materials including the back of Louis's crash couch.
From Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
Published by Ballantine in 1970
Additional resources -

Louis Wu, the 200 year old protagonist of this novel, considered grabbing the red ball to gain control of the weapon, but one of the other aliens had a better way to control this unruly kzin.

And what, you ask, is a kzin that you should fear it? Imagine an eight-foot tall tabby cat built like a linebacker, with paws the size of baseball gloves, with retractable claws to match.

Find out about a uniquely flexible blade: the belt sword by William Gibson.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Ringworld
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Ringworld
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

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