Looking for short story about robot trapped on moon after human extinction travel to earth to find man's killers. The robot builds a craft to get to earth to try to find out why the people are no longer sending instructions to the moon. Robot find that all humans are dead. Robot organizes other robots to look for man's killers. Over time the search for man's killers expands across the galaxy. Robot gets new bodies over time to extend its lifespan. Far in the future robot archeologists report to the robot that started the search that evidence shows humanity destroyed itself - in response the robot destroys the evidence so that the search will continue. Story was published in 1960's +/-(?).
Looking for short story
"To Avenge Man" aka "Vengeance Is Mine", a novelette by Lester del Rey, first published in Galaxy Magazine, December 1964 (illustrated on the cover), available at the Internet Archive. Maybe one of these covers will ring a bell. Here is a plot summary from the Recursive Science Fiction site:
Sam is a robot abandoned on the Moon while mankind destroys itself. However, Sam cannot believe that mankind did this and, based upon his reading of SF books, he decides that mankind was done in by alien invaders. He manages to return to Earth where he begins to built robots to avenge humanity. Over the eons the robots search the galaxy but find only bucolic civilizations and the ruins of technological ones. A long study of Earth reveals the truth but Sam suppresses it to allow the robots to still have a purpose.
about robot trapped on moon after human extinction travel to earth to find man's killers.
Man would never desert him. They had to come back to the Moon to finish their work, and the first thing they would do would be to find him. Men couldn't just leave him there! Only in the wild fiction could that happen, and even there only the postulated evil men would do such a thing. His men would never dream of it!
He stared up at Earth. The dome was in night again, and Earth was a great orb in the sky, glowing blue and white, with touches of brown in a few places. He saw the outline of continents through the cloud cover, and looked for the great city that must lie within the thin darkened area. There should have been lights visible there, even against the contrast of brighter illumination from the lighted area. But there was no sign of the city.
He sighed soundlessly again, and now he felt himself relaxing. The attackers must still be hovering there! The dangerous Ufo-things from space. Men were still embattled and unable to return to him. Thirty years of that for them, and here he was losing balance over what had been only a year of his conscious time!
The robot builds a craft to get to earth to try to find out why the people are no longer sending instructions to the moon.
If they couldn't come for him, he had to get to them. The question was: How? He couldn't project himself by mind power like John Carter. He had to have a rocket!
[. . . .]
It takes experience to turn engineering theory into practice. Almost three years had passed since Sam's awakening before the orbital station swam slowly into view before him. And the erratic takeoff and flight had been one that no human body could have stood. But now he sighted on the huge metal doughnut before him, estimating its orbit carefully.There were only a few gallons of fuel remaining in the tanks behind him, and he had to reach the landing net on his first try.
Robot find that all humans are dead.
The Earth of man was without form and void. The cities were slag heaps from which radioactivity still radiated. No fires burned on the hearthstones of the most isolated houses. The villages were usually burned, sometimes apparently by accident, but often as if they had been fired deliberately by their owners.
[. . . .]
They had come from somewhere out there, he thought bitterly. They had appeared more than a century before and snooped and sniffed at Earth, only to leave. Now they had come back, giving Earth only a week's warning as they approached. They had struck all Earth with glowing bombs or radiation that ruined the cities of men. And when men had still survived, they resorted to a deadly mist of insanity. "They dropped it over us," the note had said. And the wonderful race Sam had known had died in madness, usually of some destructive kind.
Robot organizes other robots to look for man's killers.
Anger and hate grew slowly in him, rising until he could no longer contain them. His radio message was almost a scream as he roused the computer.
"Can you make a thousand robots out of the material waiting? And can you model half of them after my brain as it is now and half after another robot I'll bring you to study, but without the limits you put on it before?"
"Such a program is feasible," the machine answered.
They wouldn't be just like him, Sam realized. DeMaire had said there was a random factor. But they would do. The first thousand robots could find material for more, and those for still more. There would be robots enough to study all the books men had left, and to begin the long trip out into space.
This time, there would be more than a tape education for them. Sam would be there to tell them the story of Man, the glory of the race, and the savage treachery that had robbed the universe of that race. They would learn that the universe held an enemy—a technological, warlike enemy that must be exterminated to the last individual.
They would comb the entire galaxy for that enemy if they had to. And someday, mankind's debt of justice would be paid. Man would be avenged.
Sam looked up at the sky and foreswore all robots for all time to that debt of vengeance.
Over time the search for man's killers expands across the galaxy.
Hate spewed across the universe in a high crusade. Metal ships leaped from star to star and hurtled across the immensities to farther and farther galaxies. The ships spawned incessantly, and with each went the holy image of their faith and the unsated and insatiable hunger of their hate.
A thousand stars yielded intelligent races, but all were either nontechnical or peaceful. The great ships dropped onto their worlds and went away again, leaving a thousand peoples throughout the galaxies filled with gratitude and paying homage to the incredibly beautiful images of the supernal being called Man. But still the quest went on.
Robot gets new bodies over time to extend its lifespan.
In a great temple-palace on the capital world of the Andromeda Galaxy, Sam's seventeenth body stared down at the evidence piled onto a table, and then across at the other robot, the scientist who had just returned from the ancient mother world of Earth, incredible light-years away. He stirred the evidence there with a graceful finger.
Far in the future robot archeologists report to the robot that started the search that evidence shows humanity destroyed itself—
"That is how the human race died?" he asked again. "You are quite sure?"
The young robot nodded. "Quite sure. Even with modern methods and a hundred million workers, it took fifty years to gather all this on Earth. It has been so badly scattered that most was lost or ruined. But no truth from the past can be completely concealed. Man died as I have shown you, not as our legends tell us. Man was his own enemy. His were the ships that destroyed his people. He was the race we are sworn to exterminate."
in response the robot destroys the evidence so that the search will continue.
Anger had carried them to the stars, and hatred had bridged the spaces between the galaxies. The robots had owned no heritage. They were a created race with no background, designed only to serve. But men had left them a richer heritage than most races could ever earn.
Sam shook his head faintly. "No, Robert. False or not, vengeance is our heritage. Burn the evidence."