6

I once have read a story about the spaceship and a device, than can produce anything, but only once in a lifetime.

Then, the spaceship encountered with an asteroid and crew start to fix it with all possible Mendeley's table elements.

  • "than can produce anything, but only once in a lifetime." By 'anything' DYM 'any element'? Given the later reference to the periodic table of elements, it seems to fit. – Andrew Thompson Sep 16 '14 at 10:35
  • I don't clearly remember, it's likely some finite amount of any atomic elements, as far as I remember. – m0nhawk Sep 16 '14 at 10:37
9

It's "The Necessary Thing" by Robert Sheckley.

Gregor sends Arnold out for supplies for their next job, but Arnold returns having spent the money on another item from Joe the Interstellar Junkman.

Their ship breaks on landing, and when they try to order parts from the machine (called Configurator) they discover it's flaw.

"That's interesting. I suppose someone should have thought of that possibility." "What possibility?" "Apparently the Configurator will turn out anything," Arnold said. "But only once."

The rest of the story in Galaxy Magazine.

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