This is a story from an anthology, I cannot recall the author but I may have first read it in the 1960's or 1970's. The title actually refers to the protaganists superior, who charges him with solving the technical problem of a strange new weapon that enemy aliens are using against us.

The aliens are called the Soetti, aka the Sweaties. From what I recall of the illustratons, the ships were spherical or tear drop shapped, the aliens were humanoid with thick tendrils instead of hair.

The weapon causes all humans on board a ship to become catatonic. It is later discovered that it was designed to kill. The solution to the problem is that a harmonic is set up between human weapons and the new alien weapon when both are fired during a battle. It is this harmonic that has the effect attributed to the new alien weapon.

I have performed many searches on these terms but nothing relevent has been found. I hope someone here can help identify this story.

1 Answer 1


The Soetti are the alien antagonists in Keith Laumer's Retief story "Courier" (available to read free on the publisher's website). The humans call them "sweaties" and there are weapons called "needlers" but not many other details match.

You may be conflating two stories, because there is a Randall Garrett story called "Needler" that does involve a weapon that causes catatonia due to a "loop feedback pattern". You can read this story at the Luminist Archive. The ship illustrations indeed show spherical craft. The aliens in this story are called the Enlissa.

illustration: futuristic car races toward docked round spacecraft

  • 2
    Well caught, I had indeed conflated the two stories! The correct one is "Needler" by Randal Garrett. I have read a lot of the Retief stories and first read "Courier" as "The Frozen Planet". Thanks for reminding me of this, it is still in my library.
    – Seldon2k
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 14:39

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