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"Looking back through history, I see no evidence for humanity making the best of things, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that's an on-going trend."
- Richard Morgan

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

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