Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Western Heaven, by Chen Hongyu

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(SF Robots) Humans left Earth long ago, but robots still toil endlessly. Wu Kong has acquired intelligence and goes on a quest to find the humans. (9,764 words; Time: 32m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (translated by Andy Dudak), appeared in issue 122, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: To a degree, Wu Kong reenacts the story of Journey to the West. He gathers companions, overcomes obstacles, and crosses an incredible distance.

The experience with the humans is not, as far as I can tell, taken from "Journey to the West." Wu Kong experiments with being obedient and submissive to the humans, but faced with the loss of his eye, he realizes that's not the path for an intelligent individual. Likewise, Thousand Hands concludes that work is futile.

Upon their return, they find Earth has become a paradise. They don't become gods (as in "Journey to the West") but they do appear to live happily ever after.

Con: It's not a problem that Wu Kong is an emotional AI--that works pretty well, especially when he's surrounded by AIs without volition. The problem is that the author keeps trying to "explain" things about how he works. E.g. "his processor was tired." These faux-technical details are all bad science and pop the reader out of the story.

Other details break suspension of disbelief. For example, the older brother wants to give his girlfriend a diamond, but none exists on their world, so he takes one of Wu Kong's eyes. But if diamonds don't exist, why will the girlfriend value one?

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