Looking for the author and title of a story about a man at a remote outpost in space, who spends a lot of time assembling "flat pack" machines that are delivered to him. To save time, he orders a robot to perform the assembly. When it arrives, it also requires assembly.

1 Answer 1


This sounds like the super-short (just 350 words!) story by Isaac Asimov entitled "Insert knob A in hole B". It has two men at a remote outpost instead of one, but otherwise follows the question closely. It was written while Asimov was attending a TV panel show, which is why it is so short (and also why it contains a grammatical error). The plot summary from wikipedia reads:

Two men on a remote space station receive all of their equipment from Earth unassembled, and must assemble it with only vague and confusing instructions ("composed by an idiot", one says); as a result, it often fails to work properly or at all. They eagerly await the arrival of a sophisticated positronic robot that will repair existing equipment and assemble new ones.

Upon its arrival, they discover that the robot has been shipped in 500 pieces with vague, confusing assembly instructions.

  • That's the one, thanks!
    – bobc
    Feb 4, 2021 at 18:22

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