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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Flexible Armor Suit  
  A pressure suit that, while flexible, becomes rigid like armor upon impact.  

He [Nessus the puppeteer] went up a rise, moving slowly, though his feet wanted to dance. He was weaponless, but his suit was a kind of defense. No projectile short of a fast meteorite could harm him. Like a silicone plastic, the pressure suit was soft and malleable under gentle pressures, such as walking, but instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...

The top of the swell behind Nessus suddenly sparkled with harsh blue-white sunlight. ... He saw the light, he curled into a ball, and the ground swell came. It batted him like a beach ball. His rigid, form-fitting shell retained his shape. It could not prevent the ground swell from slamming him away, nor his brain from jarring under its thick skull and its extra padding.

From Neutron Star, by Larry Niven.
Published by Worls of If in 1966
Additional resources -

This is from "The Soft Weapon" (originally published in Worlds of If, February, 1967) from the Neutron Star story collection.

Thanks to a helpful reader for providing the reference and text quote.

Compare to the karatand from Stand on Zanzibar (1968) by John Brunner.

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

Flexible Armor Suit-related news articles:
  - Liquid Armor In Two Flavors: Shear Thickening and Magnetorheological
  - d3o Design Competition To Invent The Future
  - Liquid Armor Video Shows Bullets Bounce Off
  - Richard Palmer, d3o Inventor, O2 X Entrepreneur of the Year
  - DEFLEXION Apparel For Superheroes
  - BAE System 'Bullet Proof Custard' Body Armor
  - Love That Shear Thickening Fluid Body Armor
  - Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton

Articles related to Armor
Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton
DIY Taser-Proof Clothing
Look Great In Your Garrison Bespoke Bulletproof Suit
Bionic Body Armor Makes You Dodge Bullets

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