I’ve been reading more short stories lately to get a sense of what makes a story great, and I think I came across a good example in a recent issue of Clarkesworld. The story is called “Western Heaven,” and it’s written by Chen Hongyu, a Chinese writer who’s been nominated for the Chinese Nebula.
First off, let me admit: I’d love to be able to write intricate science fiction stories like this one. Maybe one day I will (if I ever learn more about science first, that is).
“Western Heaven” is about a ragtag gang of robots who have been left behind on Earth by humans, who have long since abandoned the planet.
The artificially-intelligent robots were created to serve humans, and they long to do so again. So one of the robots (Wu Kong) gathers up other bots and devises a way to travel to the distant planet where the humans have since settled.
Once the robots arrive, though, they find out they’re probably better off without mankind.
It’s a long read: nearly 10,000 words. But I highly recommend it.
2 thoughts on “‘Western Heaven’”
I just heard its podcast episode. What I liked the most was that it didn’t end at the middle of the story. Usually stories like that end when the robots reach their destination where they find their doom or heaven. But this one showed a whole cycle and left a bigger sense of content. Also it reminded me the movie wall-e….
Thanks for the comment! I listen to the Clarkesworld podcast all of the time. It’s great. And I agree with the comment about “Western Heaven.” I was surprised by the way it ended. It did leave some resolution.