(including the worst laser/phaser excuse ever)
Okay, I have to know -- what is it?
You know how in 'The Cage' they use lasers?
You know how in Enterprise, they use phasers?
Without spoiling too much, Starfleet needs non-lethal weapons in 2250-something. The book says that during the Romulan War phase pistols were phased out (sorry) and replaced by lasers to better fight Romulan robot drones. They then imply that the technology for phaser weapons was lost, but say that starfleet is developing a new version of the phaser but it'll be a few years before it's in use yet.
Why they couldn't just any of the non-lethal weapons available today is a mystery.