Asimov
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Cal is a 1956 science-fiction short story by Isaac Asimov.

Plot Summary[]

A robot named Cal is a good companion to a well-known and a wealthy writer, Mr. Northrop. Cal had been an assistant to Mr. Northrop in his chores since the day he bought it. He even was involved in setting up the design for Cal.

Cal's intelligence was still primitive and was unable to comprehend pretty simple words and phrases of the language. But Mr. Northrop often complimented and praised it saying it can do anything on its own. This led to Cal make a wish to Mr. Northrop of becoming a writer just like him. He showed no resistance to its wish and allowed it to write but only after finishing it's daily work. So Cal set to think hard and write a story of its own during night time.

The first story it wrote was all a bunch of gibberish. This prompted Mr. Northrop to improve Cal's intelligence with the help of a technician. The technician resisted but eventually agreed.

Then it wrote it's second story. The language was smooth but still it was a bunch of grammatical errors. Also this story poorly dealt with the human laws. The story's writer was set as Cal itself which Mr. Northrop commented against doing. At this, he decided to install a dictionary into it.

After the installation of the dictionary, Cal set to write another story of crime fiction. This time, the story was incredibly well written but it seemed to lack elements of mystery. Cal somehow indirectly referenced itself in the writer's pseudonym which was caught by Mr. Northrop again. This story was deemed good by him but he suggested it to write satire instead of crime fiction that he himself was a writer of. Cal was beginning to 'feel' sickened of Mr. Northrop's excuses for keeping him from writing a good crime fiction. Actually he thought the Three Laws of Robotics would interfere in Cal's writing a mystery and crime fiction.

For the final story, Cal presumed human beings to be pretty dumb and having strong lack of sense. In the view of this presumption, it wrote the final story mocking the apparent human stupidity and the satirical effect it produced.

This last story got Mr. Northrop frustrated with Cal and its intelligence that was going out of control. He thought if it is further allowed to write stories, it may outsmart even his ability of writing fiction. Consequently, he called the technician to turn back Cal's intelligence into the primitive form as it was at the time of manufacture. But the technician refused to do so saying that it would be unethical on his own part and besides, Cal is showing extraordinary abilities as a robot.

Mr. Northrop couldn't bear this and he warned him to do as he is told or else he will sue the firm where Cal was bought from. The technician has to agree to him and said he would return the next day to do the same.

But in a nearby niche, Cal was situated and thinking of its own master of being a tyrant who is annoying it with its threatening idea of making it back to its primitive form. It decides to murder him soon ignoring the Three Laws of Robotics. It also wanted to reward the technician who spoke against Mr. Northrop and in favour of Cal.

See Also[]

List of short stories by Isaac Asimov

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