In the Niven short story "Madness Has Its Place", there's this passage:

The ARM suppresses dangerous technology. What the ARM buries is supposed to stay buried. I remembered a kind of time compressor, and a field that would catalyze combustion, both centuries old. Both were first used for murder.

I've read the murder mystery about the time compressor; it's a Gil Hamilton story called "ARM" (spoilers). But I don't remember any story about the other invention, the one that catalyzes combustion.

Is there such a story?

  • 3
    This is a great question. I have read everything that Larry Niven has published, and I don't recall that tantalizing story thread ever being picked up. Perhaps he wrote the story and never published it; perhaps he never wrote a story but intended to; perhaps it's just a thread he left hanging as many universe-building authors are wont to do. I am only human and it may just be that the story escapes me. However, I have not read all of the Man-Kzin Wars works; I suppose it's possible it's mentioned in one of those. Nov 14, 2012 at 17:30
  • @MarkBeadles you should make this an answer.
    – Dima
    Nov 14, 2012 at 21:06
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    It is indeed a great question. @MarkBeadles - You could argue that they are one and the same thing. I seem to recall from the story something burning would of course suddenly get violently more active in the field - like a match. Something would burn very fast in the field - from a fire to metabolism. Nov 14, 2012 at 21:35
  • 1
    I've read all the Man-Kzin books and nothing springs to mind from there. But Niven started writing before I was born, so there could easily be magazine stories or story collections out of print that I would have had no access to.
    – Kyle Jones
    Nov 14, 2012 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


I wrote to Niven and he kindly responded.

The story never got written. It was just a bit of background.

  • I wrote to him once also and he responded. It's cool when you get a 'famous' person who actually responds to questions.
    – eidylon
    Nov 15, 2012 at 18:48

The story you are thinking of is possibly an early draft of "ARM", one of the three novellas in "The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton". Niven notes that the original plot involved too many elements, including the "Fyrestop" device which suppressed combustion. The time-compressor made it into the published version.

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