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First published in Galaxy Science Fiction Nov 1955

After a war leaves humans scattered in settlements around the U.S., unmanned automatic factories continue to churn out consumer goods while expanding and using up more and more natural resources.

Humans, lacking any other way to stop these autofacs, pit the factories in adjacent cities against each other as the autofacs scavenge for the same raw materials. The Kansas City factory ends up destroyed by a factory from another city, or at least it appears that way until the humans discover that deep underground the factory has started to manufacture miniature replicas of the factory itself that will presumably take over the entire earth.

This story was adapted for season one of Electric Dreams which takes the premise in a different direction with a not-too-satisfying twist ending.

Cast of characters

Earl Perine, Morrison, O’Neill, Judith O’Neill – members of a settlement in Kansas City