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 never 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.