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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 237

Jeff Wells is an accident-prone young man who finds himself caught up in a conspiracy to turn the solar system into an empire. Norby: The Mixed-Up Robot begins with his having turned the kitchen computers into chaos while trying to use the Space Academy's computers to teach him Martian Colony Swahili while he sleeps. Even Space Command's Admiral Yobo, who likes Jeff, is upset by this turn of events; he likes eating. Thus Yobo sends Jeff away from the Space Academy for awhile, but he lends Jeff enough money to buy a teaching robot—one that will help him learn Martian Colony Swahili.

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Life looks bleak to fourteen-year-old Jeff, who is devoted to joining Space Command and who normally earns good grades, but it becomes downright weird when he purchases a used robot in Manhattan. He is drawn to a strange little figure that is lodged in a barrel that once held "Norb's Nails." Once he has purchased the queer robot, he discovers that it was rebuilt using some alien parts found on an asteroid and that the robot used some kind of telepathic powers to make Jeff want to buy him. Jeff dubs his new robot Norby after "Norb's Nails." Norby is far from a quiet, submissive robot—which he is supposed to be. Instead, he argues with Jeff constantly, whines about tiny inconveniences, and surprises Jeff with his independent behavior. Then the real trouble starts.

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