Saturday, 20 February 2016
What Is A Weapon?
a hitchhiker holding a knife to a driver's throat is powerless when the driver, a professional actor, pretends to be suicidal and begins to drive dangerously, threatening to crash the car;
a kzinti telepath reports that a human spaceship has no weapons but then the human pilot aims his laser drive at the kzinti ship, fighting as he flees.
Similarly, weapon systems can be put to peaceful uses. In Poul Anderson's For Love And Glory:
antimissile screens can deflect solar flares;
warheads can excavate where shelters are needed;
energy beams drill through ice, giving access to the minerals beneath.
So does a ship carrying what look like weapons necessarily have belligerent intentions? Intelligence and diplomacy would be crucial in inter-species encounters.