Construction Shack

Story, first published: Worlds of If, Jan./Feb. 1973

It is a nostalgic piece, a throwback to the type of work Simak did in the forties. A manned expedition to Pluto discovers that the planet is an artificial world, made of steel, a "construction shack" for "cosmic engineers" who "built" the solar system. In the opinion of the humans, they bungled the job, only creating one life-supporting world. So much for gods and their works ...

Ewald, Robert J.: When the Fires Burn High and the Wind is from the North, p.118

Plot ideas in "Limiting Factor" (1949) are used again in "Construction Shack" (1973). Both involve human teams exploring new, mysterious planets. Both planets are deserted, but filled with technology. "Limiting Factor" is nearly an essay-in-form-of-a-short-story, with the characters little more than mouthpieces to set forth ideas about the planet. The storytelling in "Construction Shack" is much better: it has a lively readability lacking in the earlier tale. The ideas in "Limiting Factor" have dated, and are partly obsolete, whereas those in "Construction Shack" are still a bit more plausible. However, the sf concepts in "Limiting Factor" have more relevance to human life.
Both tales are constructed as science fiction mysteries: what is going on with the mysterious planet? Just as in a regular mystery, there are clues, investigation, and a solution to the mystery at the end of the story.

Grost, Michael E.: Visitors From Science Fiction