Robot AL-76 Goes Astray

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"Robot AL-76 Goes Astray"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Series Robot series
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in Amazing Stories
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Ziff-Davis
Media type Print (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication date February 1942
Preceded by "Robbie"
Followed by "First Law"

"Robot AL-76 Goes Astray" is a humorous science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, originally published in the February 1942 issue of Amazing Stories and included in the collections The Rest of the Robots (1964) and The Complete Robot (1982).

Plot summary[edit]

AL-76 (aka Al) is a robot designed for mining work on the Moon, but as a result of an accident after leaving the factory of US Robots and Mechanical Men, it gets lost and finds itself in rural Virginia. It cannot comprehend the unfamiliar environment and the people it meets are scared of it. When it comes across a shed full of spare parts and junk, it is moved to reprogram itself and builds a powerful mining tool of the kind it was designed to use on the Moon - but since it does not have the proper parts, it improvises and produces a better model, requiring less power. He then proceeds to disintegrate half of a mountainside with it, in no time at all: much to the alarm of a country "antique dealer" who had hoped to use the lost robot in his business.

When angrily told to destroy the "Disinto" and forget all about it, AL-76 obeys, and the secret of the reprogramming and the improved tool is lost.

The theme of a robot reacting to an unfamiliar environment and reprogramming itself has been revisited on many occasions, including the films Short Circuit and its sequel Short Circuit 2.

Preceded by:
Included in:
The Rest of the Robots
The Complete Robot
Robot series
Foundation Series
Followed by:
"First Law"