Classic Fantasy and Science Fiction


written by Isaac Asimov

published in 1953

A short story
in the
Asimov's Robots series

Set in the Foundation universe

Cover Notes

The story portrays a future where the only cars allowed on the road are those that contain positronic brains, so they don't require a human driver. The cars are not strictly speaking robots, as they don't communicate verbally, although they can communicate via slamming doors and honking their horns, and by the patterns of cylinder knocking by misfiring.

Several old cars have been retired to a "farm" run by Jake where they can be properly cared for. The cars each have names, but only two are identified with any certainty as to their manufacturers. Sally is described as a vain convertible, strongly implying that she is a Corvette (as this was the only convertible sportscar made in the United States at the time the story was written), and one sedan, Giuseppe, is identified as coming from the Milan factories, meaning that he is explicitly an Alfa Romeo.

Raymond Gellhorn, an unscrupulous businessman tries to steal some of the cars in order to 'recycle' the brains. He forces Jake, the resident caretaker of the Farm, aboard a bus at gunpoint, trying to get away from the farm and holding Jake captive. The cars chase and eventually surround the bus, communicating with it until it opens a door. Jake jumps out, and the cars eventually persuade the bus to kill Gellhorn.

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