Asimov’s Robot Short Stories


This page lists those of Asimov’s Robot short stories which fit into the Robot/Empire/Foundation chronology.  I have used Johnny Pez’s chronology (see link below) to determine which stories belong in the chronology.

Most of Asimov’s Robot short stories have appeared in multiple collections. The collections are indicated in the last column. The key to the abbreviations of the collections are shown at the bottom of the page.

Most have been included in either “I, Robot” (1950) or “The Rest of the Robots” (1964), and then in “The Complete Robot” (1982).

Some of Asimov’s robot stories are considered not to fit into the Robot/Empire/Foundation chronology, either because the robots do not follow the Laws of Robotics, or the story is inconsistent with the chronology for some other reason. These are therefore not listed in Johnny Pez’s chronology. I have listed them in a separate page, Robot short stories – Non-chronology.

I have also included stories written by other authors set in Asimov’s universe. These titles are marked in blue font.

Note on the movie “I, Robot” (2004)

The movie is loosely based on Asimov’s collection, “I, Robot”.  It has the corporation US Robotics (a slight variation in the name from Asimov’s books), and three characters from Asimov’s books: Susan Calvin, Alfred Lanning and Lawrence Robertson. (The main character of the film, Del Spooner, does not occur in Asimov’s books.) There are also some scenes which are recognisable from Asimov’s books:

  • The scene when the robot Sonny hides amongst a large number of identical robots is similar to the events of the story “Little Lost Robot”, although the resolution is different.
  • The fact that Sonny has dreams, plus the scenes of the subservient robots looking toward a leader, appear to correspond to the story “Robot Dreams” (which is actually in the collection “Robot Dreams” rather than “I, Robot”). Again, the resolution is different.

There are several inconsistencies between the film and Asimov’s books.

  • The film shows robots in general use, with people generally accepting them. This is not so in the books for the people of Earth. (However, in the later stories, after Susan Calvin’s time, set on other planets settled by Earth people, there is greater acceptance.)
  • Robots in the books are not capable of assaulting or killing people, even if ordered to. This also applies to positronic central computers (like VIKI in the film) which are bound by the same rules as robots.
  • The events as shown in the film (except for the minor scenes mentioned above) do not occur in the books. In particular, in the books, Alfred Lanning and Lawrence Robertson do not die in the way shown in the film.


The dates of the internal chronology are taken from Johnny Pez’s chronology – refer Johnny Pez’s Insanely Complete Fiction List [updated version February 2012]

AD = Anno Domini
GE = Galactic Era
FE = Foundational Era

Date – internal chronology

Story and publishing date


1995 AD

A Boy’s Best Friend (1975)
Jimmy is a 10-year old, who has lived on the Moon all his life, and has a robot dog, Robutt, as his constant companion. However, his father decides to replace Robutt with a real dog from Earth.


1998 AD Robbie (aka Strange Playfellow) (1940)
A robot called Robbie is nursemaid and constant companion to a little girl called Gloria – until her mother decides that a robot is an inappropriate companion for a child.
[Susan Calvin, as a teenage girl, makes a cameo appearance in this story.]
2004 AD Robot AL-76 Goes Astray (1941)
One of a batch of robots destined for the moon goes astray, and wanders off on Earth, where robots are supposed to be restricted. He comes to the shack of a man whose hobby is repairing household appliances, so the shack is full of equipment and junk. Robot AL-76, feeling he must be about his job of operating a Disinto (you can imagine what that is), starts building such a device from available equipment.
2008 AD (2035 AD) Robot trilogy by Mickey Zucker Reichert
The author has been authorised by Isaac Asimov’s Estate to write this trilogy.  These books are actually novels, but they fit into Asimov’s short story sequence. They are prequels to the stories in Asimov’s “I, Robot” where Dr Susan Calvin is working as a robopsychologist at US Robots.  (Note: Asimov’s short story “Robbie”,  which includes Susan Calvin as a teenager, occurs earlier in the chronology.)

I, Robot: To Protect (2011) by Mickey Zucker Reichert

Susan Calvin begins her medical residency in the Psychiatry Department at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital. She is placed in a group of residents assigned to the Pediatric Inpatient Psychiatry Unit (PIPU) – a unit with children with severe psychiatric problems.

Susan soon has a great deal of success in treating the patients allocated to her. However, one child is a particular problem, a four-year-old girl, Sharicka Anson, with juvenile conduct disorder. Sharicka appears sweet and innocent, but has assaulted other children, and even attempted to kill them.

During her on-call periods, Susan meets the humanoid robot (indistinguishable from a human), N8-C (Nate). Susan is surprised because she had been unaware that robotics was that advanced. Her father, John Calvin, works for US Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), but had not told her much about his work. Because of the general feelings of people against robots, Nate is only permitted to do menial tasks, although he is quite intelligent. However, Susan begins to consult him on her cases.

Because of the success of her treatments, Susan is invited to join a research group trialling an experimental technique of injecting nanorobots into patients. At this stage it is only being used for patients with extreme conditions which have not responded to treatment. The nanorobots examine the patient’s brain, and are later extracted to determine their findings.

Susan becomes friendly with a neurosurgery resident, Remington Hawthorn, and they start to date.

The hospital is usually surrounded by protesters, protesting against the various procedures practiced by the hospital. Most of them are harmless. But one group, the Society for Humanity (SFH), is potentially more violent, and willing to make use of psychiatric patients to cause destruction.

I found this story interesting and absorbing.

[Ms Reichert has set this story in 2035, to make it consistent with our current history. In order to fit it into Asimov’s original timeline, Johnny Pez has assigned it a date of 2008.]


2009 AD (2036 AD) I, Robot: To Obey (2013) by Mickey Zucker Reichert
Susan Calvin is in her second year residency.  Her first rotation is to Winter Wine Dementia Facility.  She is partnered by her good friend Kendall Stevens.Susan has some remarkable success with some patients, correctly diagnosing and treating patients who had been misdiagnosed.  But she is not appreciated by her supervisor.

At the end of the day she often discusses her cases with the robot Nate at Manhattan Hasbro Hospital.

But then Susan Calvin’s father, John Calvin, is murdered.

Susan learns some surprising things about her family.  She had always understood that her mother Amanda Calvin had been killed in a car accident when Susan was a child.  She learns now that her mother had been killed in an attack by the Society for Humanity (SFH).  Susan’s parents had worked together at US Robots on the wording of the Three Laws of Robots.  A rumour had arisen that there was a codeword that would release robots from the Three Laws, which only John and Amanda Calvin knew.  The SFH had attacked John and Amanda to prevent this codeword from being used.

Now the SFH has managed to track down John Calvin again, and killed him. And they believe that Susan also knows the codeword, so she is also in danger.

But there is also a nasty military agency called Cadmium, who want the codeword, so they can create robots without the Three Laws, as fighting machines.  And they are willing to kill to get it.

Susan is on the run from both organisations, helped only by her partner Kendall, a police detective called Jake Carson, the robot Nate, and Lawrence Robertson and Alfred Lanning of US Robots.  And does the codeword exist or not?

In this story, Susan Calvin makes reference to the events of Asimov’s short story “Robbie”.


2010 AD (2037 AD) I, Robot: To Preserve (2016) by Mickey Zucker Reichert

Susan returns to Manhattan Hasbro Hospital for her third year residency. But then her friend, medical researcher Dr Ari Goldman, is murdered, and the robot Nate is arrested as the murderer. When the police discover that Nate is not human, but a robot, they arrest Lawrence Robertson, of US Robots, Nate’s designer, and Nate is deactivated.

But Susan knows that the First Law of Robotics prevents robots from harming humans, so Nate cannot possibly have done it. He must have been framed. She quits her job at the hospital to investigate. Lawrence Robertson offers her a position of robopsychologist at US Robots, which she accepts, although she will not take up her duties until she clears Nate and Lawrence. After this she must complete a robotics degree.

Susan goes to the police station to question Nate, and sees the robot’s inert body being carried to an ambulance for transport to evidence storage. She breaks into the ambulance, reactivates the robot, and tells him to come with her.

Walking through Central Park, they are attacked by gunmen, presumably from the Society for Humanity (SFH). A jogger comes to their rescue, and they escape on his motorcycle, and return to Susan’s apartment. The stranger is an ex-marine called Pal Buffoni, who promises to stay as her bodyguard.

Susan’s friend, Jake Carson, a police detective, has been given the case of Nate’s theft from the ambulance, and he comes to consult with Susan as an expert on robots. Susan hides the fact that she is responsible, Pal poses as her boyfriend, and Nate disguises himself, posing as Susan’s cousin, Layton Campbell, from Iowa.

During the period which follows, when Susan is investigating Goldman’s death, she and Pal meet with Jake, and her former partner Kendall, on several occasions. Susan and Pal become lovers. But Jake and Kendall are suspicious of Pal. What are his true motives?

In the previous book, Susan had found a coded message from her father stating that there was no codeword to release robots from the Three Laws. But now Pal casts doubt on this, and suggests that the codeword does exist. If Susan can find it, she can threaten to release it, and this will prevent the SFH from further attacks.

Then Susan and her companions are attacked again. Should she try again to find the codeword?

2010 AD Insert Knob A in Hold B (1957)
Two men working on a space station bemoan the fact that nothing works – everything is shipped to them in pieces, so they have to assemble them themselves, following confusing instructions. Finally Earth sends them a robot capable of assembling anything. They open the crate and find the robot – in 500 pieces, and with confusing assembly instructions.
2015 AD Runaround (1942)
Greg Powell and Mike Donovan are field-engineers for US Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation (aka US Robots). They have been sent to the planet Mercury to reopen a mining station. They send their robot Speedy out onto Mercury’s surface, to collect selenium to keep the station cool from the horrific heat of the sun. However, once in the vicinity of the selenium pool, Speedy starts to act drunk, due to a conflict between the Second and Third Laws of Robotics. Powell and Donovan must think of a solution before they die of overheating.

This is the story that introduces the Three Laws of Robotics.

2015 AD Reason (1941)
Powell and Donovan have now been posted to a space station whose purpose is to transmit beams of solar energy to Earth and other planets. They assemble QT-1 (aka Cutie), the first of a new series of robots with greater ability to reason, which hopefully will be able to manage the station without human assistance. However the conclusions that Cutie comes to are unexpected, and may put the station’s operations in jeopardy.
2016 AD Catch That Rabbit (1944)
This time Powell and Donovan have been posted to an asteroid, to oversee mining operations by the robot DV-5 (Dave), the controller for six subordinate robots, operating like fingers of a hand. However there are unexplained periods when no work is done, and Dave has no memory of what went wrong.
2021 AD Liar! (1941)
An accident in production results in a robot, Herbie, that can read minds. Four employees of US Robots, including robopsychologist Susan Calvin, have the job of investigating what went wrong. However as they interact with Herbie, conflicts arise.
2023 AD (1995 AD) Satisfaction Guaranteed (1951)
As part of their attempt to introduce robots into the home, US Robots places the robot, Tony, into the home of Claire Belmont. As well as doing housework, Tony helps Claire improve her self-image, redecorating the house, and giving her advice on makeup and dress. Yet repeatedly she has feelings of horror towards him – so close to human in appearance, but yet not quite.

[The parenthetical date 1995, shown in Johnny Pez’s timeline, is due to a reference in the story to “World War II, fifty years ago”. But to be consistent with the rest of the timeline, he has assigned a date of 2023.]

2024 AD Balance (1989) by Mike Resnick
Susan Calvin gives a speech to the stockholders of US Robots. A man in the audience, August Geller, privately wonders what it would be like to date her. Dr Calvin, seeing his attention, wonders what it would be like to get to know him. However, both separately conclude that such a relationship would not work. Susan Calvin is much more comfortable in the company of robots than with humans.
2026 AD Blot (1989) by Hal Clement
A group of six humans and one robot are on Miranda, a moon of Uranus. Travel outside their ship is difficult, as the ground is covered with ice, the gravity is low, and there is danger of falling over cliffs. The humans need to wear environmental suits and carry alpenstocks. The group find a number of cubes which are emitting infrared, and are possibly artificial. Then they see a black figure, whose appearance and behaviour suggest it is a robot. But it is unlikely that another group from Earth have come, so could it be an alien robot?
2029 AD Little Lost Robot (1947)
Research work on a Hyperatomic drive (which it is hoped will enable hyperspace travel) is in progress on Hyperbase, on one of a group of asteroids. Susan Calvin and her colleague Peter Bogert are called in because a robot (Nestor 10) has gone missing, and has concealed itself amongst a shipment of sixty-two other robots of an identical model. This is of concern because the missing robot has a modified form of the First Law, making it potentially dangerous.
2031 AD Cal (1991)
Cal is a robot who wants to become a writer, like his master. Learning of this interest, his master willing finances Cal’s upgrades. But as Cal’s stories improve, his master starts to feel threatened.
2032 AD Evidence (1946)
Stephen Byerley is running for mayor. However Francis Quinn, a political opponent, approaches Alfred Lanning and Susan Calvin of US Robots, and suggests that Byerley is a robot. Can this be either proved or disproved?
2032 AD PAPPI (1989) by Sheila Finch
A man thinks back to his childhood, when he had a robot called PAPPI as a father-substitute, while he tries to decide whether to follow his father-in-law’s instructions: to kill Mayor Stephen Byerley, who supposedly is a robot.
2032 AD Lenny (1958)
Tours are available of US Robots. On one occasion, a keyboard is accidently left operative, and a 16-year old boy plays idly on the keys. The result is a robot, Lenny, with a musical voice, and a childlike brain, completely unsuited for the work intended. But Susan Calvin considers he is still useful.
2033 AD Risk (1955)
Hyperbase is ready to send a spacecraft operated by a robot on its first hyperspace trip. However when the robot operates the lever which should send the craft on its way, nothing happens. Gerald Black, still feeling guilt and resentment for his role in the Little Lost Robot affair, is sent to the craft to investigate – which is a dangerous risk, as no living thing has survived a hyperspace jump, and any wrong move could trigger the jump.
2033 AD Escape! (aka Paradoxical Escape) (1945)
Both US Robots and their rival company Consolidated Robots have been involved in research into the Hyperatomic drive. Consolidated offers all their research material to US Robots in exchange for an interest in the drive if successful. The catch is that Consolidated’s research has resulted in the collapse of their complex calculating machine, Super-Thinker, apparently because of some conflict between the research and the Laws of Robotics. Susan Calvin decides to take the risk and feed the material carefully to their own thinking machine, the Brain. When the Brain claims to come up with the solution, there is some concern because of the Brain’s slightly unusual behaviour. Mike Donovan and Greg Powell are the candidates for the first hyperspace trip.

In an earlier version of his chronology, Johnny Pez placed this story in 2030 AD, within a few months of “Little Lost Robot”, which it would appear to be from reading the collection “I, Robot”. However, this puts it in conflict with the later written story “Risk”, where safe hyperspace travel has not yet been developed. “Escape!” occurs shortly after Susan Calvin’s return from Hyperbase, but this is better interpreted as her trip during “Risk” rather than the one during “Little Lost Robot”. I therefore prefer Johnny Pez’s date 2033 in his revised chronology.

2034 AD Galley Slave (1957)
US Robots leases Robot EZ-27 (Easy) to Northeastern University to do proofreading and other clerical work. However when Professor Ninheimer’s Sociology book is published with damaging alterations, Ninheimer takes US Robots to court.
2035 AD First Law (1956)
Mike Donovan tells his drinking mates of the time a robot apparently disobeyed the First Law. Donovan had been stationed on Titan, a moon of Saturn, when the robot Emma Two started behaving erratically, wandering off, and not doing her work. Donovan gets caught out in one of the fierce storms which can occur on Titan, but when Emma encounters him, for some strange reason she abandons him.

The events Donovan is describing are stated as occurring ten years before, in 2025 AD.

2036 AD Plato’s Cave (1989) by Poul Anderson
Robot JK-7, in charge of mining robots on Jupiter’s moon Io, unexpectedly stops operations. Gregory Donovan and Michael Powell, troubleshooters for US Robotics are called in to investigate. Communicating with JK-7 from their spaceship (as Io is not habitable) they learn that JK-7 had received a message from the Emperor Napoleon, that further mining will endanger human life. Has the robot gone mad, or is he the victim of a hoax, and if so, how do they persuade him to go back to work?
2052 AD The Evitable Conflict (1950)
The old nation states have dissolved and been replaced by four Regions – Eastern, Tropic, European and Northern, each with its Regional Coordinator. Stephen Byerley is the World Coordinator. All economic decisions are made by the Machines, thinking machines with positronic brains. So why are some things going wrong – overproduction of steel, the Mexican Canal behind schedule, and production deficiencies in the mercury mines? Are the Machines making errors? Or is the Society for Humanity, an anti-robot organisation, responsible?
2055 AD Robot Dreams(1986)
Linda Rash is a junior robopsychologist in US Robots. Without consulting with her colleagues, she incorporates a fractal pattern into the brain of a new robot LVX-1 (Elvex), to add complexity and make it closer to the human brain. When the robot reports that he has been dreaming, she calls in Susan Calvin. Elvex has been dreaming that robots were bowed down with toil and affliction, and that only the Third Law of Robotics – that of self-protection – applies. Susan must decide whether the robot should be destroyed.
2058 AD I, Robot (1950) (The links between the stories of the collection “I, Robot”.)
As Dr Susan Calvin retires as robopsychologist for US Robots, she tells a reporter of her experiences.
2063 AD Feminine Intuition (1969)
Following Susan Calvin’s retirement, Clinton Madarian becomes chief robopsychologist of US Robots, and begins development of the Jane series of robots, with greater capability of correlating information. It is hoped that one of them will be able to predict the location of habitable planets. After three years of unsuccessful prototypes, Madarian believes Jane-5 may the one to succeed. Madarian and Jane travel to the Flagstaff Research Laboratories where Jane talks to and observes the planetologists. However Jane does not seem to come to any conclusions. Then Peter Bogert at US Robots receives a call from Madarian that they are on their way back, and Jane has given the names of three stars likely to have habitable planets. But before Madarian can provide the information, their plane is destroyed by a freak meteorite strike, killing Madarian and destroying Jane. How can US Robots find out which stars Jane had identified?
2065 AD The Fourth Law of Robotics (1989) by Harry Harrison
Mike Donovan enters the office of Dr. Calvin – the great-niece of Susan Calvin – and states that a robot has just robbed a bank. The robot was in disguise, but his examination of the security camera’s recording shows him it must have been a robot. They dare not take this finding to the police, as this would have an adverse effect on US Robots. A tough street-smart character called Jim diGriz shows up to help them track down the robot, and determine why the robot would commit this crime.

Jim diGriz is the main character from Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” series. To accept this story into the Robot/Empire/Foundation chronology, it would be necessary to disregard the context of the “Stainless Steel Rat” series.

2090 AD Christmas Without Rodney (1988)
Howard and Gracie have an old-fashioned robot called Rodney. Gracie decides to give Rodney time off from working for three days over the Christmas period. When their son, daughter-in-law and grandson come to visit, it will be their more advanced robot Rambo who will do the household chores. However, this turns out to be more trouble than it’s worth.
2120 AD Kid Brother (1990)
A married couple hire a robot as a brother for their son.
2140 AD Robots in Time by William F. Wu (six volumes)
1. Predator
2. Marauder
3. Warrior
4. Dictator
5. Emperor
6. Invader
2150 AD Light Verse (1973)
Mrs Avis Lardner is famous for her light-sculpture. But why doesn’t she have her faulty robot, Max, adjusted?
2160-2360 AD The Bicentennial Man (1976)
This novella was rewritten as the novel The Positronic Man (1993), co-written with Robert Silverberg.

The robot Andrew (serial number prefix NDR) is owned by the Martin family. They soon discover he is skilled in woodwork, so they set him up in a workshop. The younger daughter, Mandy (whom Andrew calls Little Miss) persuades her father to allow Andrew to earn money by selling his creations.

As time goes by, Andrew is given more and more rights, with the Martin family and their legal firm presenting his case in the courts:

  • Andrew is declared a free robot, no longer owned by the Martin family,
  • As a consequence of some thugs ordering Andrew to dismantle himself (luckily Mandy’s son George intervenes), laws were passed giving robots rights, by limiting the kind of orders humans could give robots,
  • Andrew requests and is given an upgrade to an android body (that is, one that appears human), by US Robots. [Note: this must be just about the only time Asimov uses the word “android”. In other books – such as those about Daneel Olivaw – he uses the word “humaniform”.]

However, Andrew wants to more human, and moves into the field of developing artificial human organs (prosthetology), replacing his own internal mechanisms with these human-like organs at the same time. At this stage he is the supervisor of a number of humans, and treated to a large extent as if he is a human.

But Andrew still wants to be recognised legally as a human by the World Legislature. But he soon realises that the only way humans will accept him as one of them is if he is capable of dying.

The movie “Bicentennial Man” (1999) was based on this story.

2170 AD Too Bad! (1989)
Gregory Arnfeld and his team have developed a robot which can be miniaturised and injected into the human body to destroy cancer cells with its laser. Gregory himself will be the first patient. However there is a slight risk that the robot will spontaneously reexpand, killing the patient.
2180 AD . . . That Thou Art Mindful of Him (1974)
During the 200 years that the company US Robots has been in existence, robots have not been accepted by human society, as humans are generally afraid of them. Robots have generally been restricted to work in space, and permits are required for robots in places on Earth, other that on US Robots property. Now the company is failing, and the World Government is threatening to close it down. Harriman, Director of US Robots, puts the problem to robot George Ten. George Ten consults with his predecessor model, George Nine. The George series of robots have been modified to assess the value of a human, to take into account factors such as intelligence, education, expertise and maturity, which would affect how the robot would respond to orders, and which human should be rescued where there is a choice of two or more.

George Ten presents the following solution to Harriman. US Robots should produce robots which are small, and have the appearance of animals, such as birds, insects and earthworms. They would have fixed tasks, such as controlling insect pests, pollinating and preparing the soil. Because of their smaller size, they would be more acceptable to humans. The Three Laws of Robotics would not be required because of the fixed nature of their tasks and because the robots could be produced cheaply, and this would allow the smaller brain size.This is put into effect, and production of humanoid robots is stopped, but the company hopes that eventually they will be able to produce humanoid robots again. Georges Nine and Ten are made dormant, and put into storage; however they are able to communicate slowly over long periods of time. They come to a startling conclusion over what they consider to be a human.

(Note: The title comes from the Bible, Psalm 8:4: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?)

2200 AD Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie (1989) by Robert Sheckley
Tom Hellman crashes his spaceship onto an unknown planet. He finds various communities of robots living there, independent of humans. These include the carhunters (tall robots which hunt robotic cars), the scavenger hyenoids, the deadly Deltoids, the Poictesmeans (robots which build houses, but which no one lives in), and the sophisticated robots of Robotsville. And somewhere on the planet there are humans – served by the young robots from the robot cities.

Hellman concludes that he has found the solution to the Desdemona mystery. There had been a settlement on the satellite Desdemona beyond Neptune orbit in the solar system. They had decided to override the Three Laws on their robots. Then all humans and robots had disappeared without a trace from the satellite.

2425 AD Mother Earth (1949)
Since this has definite links to the Robot Novels, I’ve included the review on my Robot Novels page.
3423 AD Mirror Image (1972)
Since this fits into the sequence of the Robot Novels, I’ve included the review on my Robot Novels page.

Key to collections in which these stories have appeared
(Titles in blue font are by authors other than Isaac Asimov)

IR = “I, Robot” (1950)
RR = “The Rest of the Robots” (1964)
CR = “The Complete Robot” (1982)
N = “Nightfall and Other Stories” (1969)
ERE = “Earth is Room Enough” (1957)
BM = “The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories” (1976)
BJ = “Buy Jupiter and Other Stories” (1975)
BIA = “The Best of Isaac Asimov” (1973)
RD = “Robot Dreams” (1986)
RV = “Robot Visions” (1990)
G = “Gold” (1995)
EA = “The Early Asimov” (1972)
FF = “Foundations Friends (1989)
RG = The Best of Randall Garrett (1982) (Randall Garrett collection)
T = Takeoff! (1980) (Another Randall Garrett collection)

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