I read the story back in the 90s, but it is probably older.

It is told from the point of view of a group of human xenobiologists in a "blind"/camp/lab studying the (apelike?) animals on an alien planet.

Contrary to the humans' previous experiences, individual animals become hostile and start attacking the scientists. Eventually one of the scientists also becomes violent.

It turns out an unknown third species - probably alien to this world - seeded this planet with weapons that when picked up use chemicals (and genetic manipulation?) to make the wielder hostile and hyper belligerent.

I believe the implication was that the weapons were used to fight a proxy war amongst native populations as a precursor to invasion. The invading aliens just seeded the planet with these weapons and waited for the dominant species to eliminate itself. The scientists just happened to get caught in the middle.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Do you happen to recall the cover art at all? Was this a novel or short story? If the latter, would you have read this in an anthology or a magazine?
    – DavidW
    Jul 28, 2023 at 16:12
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    Please note that I'm very interested in the answer to this question.
    – DavidW
    Jul 28, 2023 at 16:13
  • @DavidW It was a very cool story. I have no idea where I read it though. It stuck with me as I used it in my Traveller game and then in a Spacemaster game.
    – JWT
    Jul 28, 2023 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Any chance this was "Cordon Sanitaire" by Timothy Zahn which was in the anthology "Alien Stars". I don't remember it well but my notes say "trans-species user programming gauss-pistol" which sounds a bit like it.


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