Limiting Factor

Story, first published: Startling Stories, Nov. 1949

A survey team finds a shining planet is one vast computer, built to calculate - what?

Wikipedia: Clifford D. Simak

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. Simak makes this explicit in "Limiting Factor". The characters are discussing the strange planetary system:
"This system," he said, "is like a pulp whodunit. Everywhere you turn, you stumble on a clue, and every clue is haywire. Too many mysteries".
"I have a feeling there's a tie between it all," Griffith said.

Grost, Michael E.: Visitors From Science Fiction