Gateway (Heechee Saga Series #1)

Gateway (Heechee Saga Series #1)

by Frederik Pohl


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345475831
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/12/2004
Series: Heechee Saga Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 276,985
Product dimensions: 5.53(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) was one of science fiction's most important authors. Among his many novels are the science fiction classic Gateway—one of only a handful of novels that have won both the Hugo & Nebula Awards—as well as Man Plus, Jem, and All the Lives He Led. He also collaborated on many classic science fiction novels including The Space Merchants with Cyril M. Kornbluth.

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Gateway 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite an interesting look into the human condition and how people react to unknown technology and try to understand and assimilate it if at all possible, once the fear of the unknown has past. Robin Broadhead is stuck in a rut with his lousy job and desperately wants to overcome his financial troubles before he settles down and has a family. His luck turns to the better(?) after winning a decent sum in a lottery, so he buys a round of drinks for his colleagues and spends the rest on a trip to the Gateway Asteroid in hopes of striking it rich on one of the 'prospecting' trips aboard the mysterious alien ships. The adventure that follows is one of the most unique I have ever read. Pohl knows how to draw a reader's attention and retain it. I especially enjoyed the way he wrote it with dual view points, bouncing back and forth between Robin's adventures and his sessions with his robotic shrink.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Humans have discovered an ancient and abandoned space depot on an asteroid. The ships will take passengers to set headings and bring them back automatically. Since they can't be reverse engineered, the Gateway Corporation allows "prospectors" to take ships out. There's about one chance in four they'll never come back alive--but there's also a chance they could come back rich. This is set in a dystopic society where to not be rich means you can't get "Major Medical" (catastrophic heath care) let alone "Full Medical" (greatly extended youth and life) and to be poor means a short, unpleasant life. Getting to Gateway means being lucky enough to get there to have a stake, and unlucky enough you're desperate enough to want to take your chances there. The first person narrator, of the novel, Robinette "Bob" Broadhead is a prospector who struck it rich. We alternate chapters between the present--told in present tense--with his computer psychologist delving into his psych, and his past as a prospector with Gateway. Well-written, literate and more concerned with the psych than most science fiction, there is a series of novels dealing with Gateway and this one certainly makes me want to try the next.
idanush on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The gateway gives you the option to go to outer space and maybe becomes a millionaire and world-famous. But it also makes it really easy to get killed. The heechee, a long-dead species, left the gateway with many ships that can take you to the other side of the universe. There's only one caveat, you can't control them in any way, and if you run into problems you'll be the only one who'll know about.Amazing wondrous book, one of my top reads ever. Full of excitement, the unknown, and some pohl's unique sarcasm.Should be enjoyable by most, and its a relatively short read.
santhony on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This science fiction work was awarded both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1978. Apart from its abbreviated length, I found it be well deserving of the awards. The novella is set in the somewhat distant future, in which the Earth, with a population of 25 million souls is suffering from food shortages and converts hydrocarbons not into energy, but into food. Picture a ¿Soylent Green¿ society. To alleviate overcrowding, colonies have been founded on Mars, Venus and Luna.While establishing the underground Venus colony, the remnants of a previous civilization are discovered. A ¿prospector¿ finds a self guided alien spacecraft which transports him to Gateway, some type of alien way station at which hundreds of self guided alien ships are stored. The story revolves around life at Gateway and the process of using the alien (Heechee) ships (they are capable of interstellar travel) to explore the galaxy. The pilots of these one, three and five man ships are compensated based upon the importance of their discoveries. Each trip contains a very high likelihood of mortality, but the rewards are great.The story is told through a Gateway ¿prospector¿ named Robinette Broadhead, a former food miner who has earned his way to Gateway through a lottery. The chapters alternate between his ¿current¿ psychiatric sessions and flashbacks to his time on Gateway.The premise of the story is excellent and the story is well developed. The chapters dealing with the psychiatric sessions are not nearly as entertaining however, and almost amount to filler. This brings us to the length of the work. At 275 pages, the book is relatively short to begin with, however, fully 60+ pages are comprised of ¿exhibits¿ which are interspersed throughout the story. These exhibits take the form of Gateway bulletin board postings, pages from what appears to be a Gateway orientation manual, and various trip reports and scientific findings. Many of these are largely filler, the remainder deserve only cursory attention. In addition, there are roughly thirty chapters, each of which begin and end in the middle of a page. You are left with what is actually a book with 150-175 pages of text. Throw out the psychiatric sessions and you are largely left with what could easily be compressed into a lengthy short story. The book can be read in its entirety in 5-6 hours.There are several sequels to Gateway and I will possibly follow up the story, but suspect that two or three could have been combined into one standard length science fiction novel.
CosmicBullet on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a book I didn't like. . . until shortly after I finished it. This is because the truth of the book - the conflict around which the entire story is based - only appears in the last couple of pages. That conflict centers around the implications of a black hole's event horizon. Everything else: the discovered technology of an ancient race, which makes faster than light travel possible, the AI therapist to whom the main character goes for help, the tunnel -ridden asteroid housing the mysterious Heechee space ships. . . all of this becomes an entire novel's worth of interesting background against which that one unifying situation is finally cast. So, after plodding though all of this for two hundred and fifty some pages, you close the book. . . you think a few minutes. . . and then you realize: 'hmm, that's an interesting idea.' In this sense, the tale feels like it has the scope of a short story. However, Pohl gives it the space of a novel. And this is why I felt at times like I was plodding though developments that seemed to be going nowhere. Added to this is the fact that Pohl's book seems dated now, written as it was in 1976: the lines of computer printout that resemble BASIC programming, the revelation that a screen image is digitally generated, the overt notices about second hand cigarette smoke. All wold have been forward-thinking issues for the '70s, but for a modern reader, just dated enough to distract. I cannot say that Pohl is one of my favorite sci-fi writers. To me, his prose seems. . . soul-less, perhaps. I feel as though I should have read him back in the day. Realizing that there are additional books in this series, Gateway may be best judged against the context of the whole. However, taken by itself, I can't say I was 'carried off' by this one novel.
jburlinson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The tale is told in alternating chapters. In one series, Bob (short for Robinette), the hero (more an anti-hero), relates, more or less chronologically and certainly soporifically, his adventures as a prospector in the outer reaches of the universe, trying to find artifacts of a long-extinct race of space pioneers called the Heechee. In the second series, Bob, having clearly succeeded in his prospecting career, chronicles his sessions with a robo-shrink, who is trying to heal the emotional wounds that are the price Bob has paid for his success. So the ¿Gateway¿ is twofold: a portal to the stars and an entry into the psyche ¿ kind of like Dutch doors. Both series are interspersed with one-page squibs that consist of futuristic classified ads extracts of lectures & interviews, and snatches from user manuals of various kinds. These are presumably intended to provide comic relief. They fail. The primary narrative is sluggish and not particularly imaginative. The psych sequences are amusing as spoofs of Freudian practice, but, ultimately, are undermined by the Freudianism that pervades the character development. This book won both a Hugo and a Nebula (how in the world?) and spawned a video game, which I hope gave more pleasure than its progenitor.
jeffjardine on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I read this because of the Hugo and Nebula it received. Maybe it was a weak year. Gateway struck me as a somewhat ho-hum tale with an unlikeable lead character. It also has not aged as well as some other classic SF.The climax/reveal/twist is good enough to make the book a worthwhile read. It depends on some theoretical physics that would have been a bit of a hot topic when Gateway was written. Maybe that bit of trendiness was enough to merit the awards at the time.
Karlstar on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Heechee Saga, of which this is the first book is considered a science fiction classic for good reason. In the not so distant future, mankind has found an alien transportation hub in the solar system. Unfortunately, while we can make it work, we can't understand it. Prospectors take the FTL ships of the Heechee and arrive at a random location in the universe and hope to find something valuable. Some strike it rich, others never return. This is the story of one persistent prospector who never quite strikes it rich, but always manages to return alive, somehow. I've always found this to be a great book to read. The utilization of barely understood alien technology and the randomness of it all keeps it interesting, along with the constant prospect of the possibility of meeting the Heechee or other aliens.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a bit dated, but I think that the book captures space exploration much better than other books, that its a crapshoot and theres not guarantee. My one complaint, and its not so much about the book, is that it took the narrator so long to actually go out exploring! I started reading it an hour before bedtime, and I kept going one more chapter, just waiting for something to happen (the waiting was very interesting, and the story wouldn't be what it was without it). Needless to say, I finished the book that night and was not a pleasant person the next morning
Bob_Firth on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book delivers a fairly "hard" version of science fiction with particular devotion to the technology, typical of the author. So there is satisfying scientific detail, but it is unfortunately larded with a lot of interpersonal relationships and other irrelevance. In addition, there's a lot of flash-forwarding involving interviews with a robot psychologist, the significance of which only surfaces at the end, and which barely merits the additional material. In summary: Good "hard" sci-fi with no obvious "clangers" thinned out with some chick-lit and inconsequential psycho-babble. on LibraryThing 11 months ago
While the novel is considered a classic in SF, it shows its age. The prose left me unmoved most of the time and some of the futuristic technology portrayed in the book does not come across as exciting any more.There are two good points in favor of this book. The first is a stab at imagining human computer interaction when computers are getting darn close to being sentient, as slowly revealed in the protagonist's interaction with his electronic psychiatrist. The other is abundant, but interspursed, discussions of interesting astrophysical phenomena. Still, in my opinion, the book is weighed down by the (intentionally) unpleasant "hero".
clong on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is my favorite of Pohl's books. The concept for FTL space travel (i.e., we find a bunch of old alien ships that still work, but we have no idea how or where they are headed when the head out from our solar system) is original, and it opens up immense possibilities for storytelling. I haven't yet read any of the later Heechee books, which have gotten generally mixed reviews. The future society envisioned in this book is one where all but the very wealthy live short miserable frightening lives. The lucky ones get to take their chances on space travel, which is quite literally like playing a high stakes lottery, with huge payouts for the lucky, and ugly unpleasant deaths for everyone else. The narrative form is quite effective, alternating flashbacks (of the protagonist Robinette Broadhead's adventures in space), with his present day therapy sessions with "Sigfrid von Shrink," a computerized psychotherapist. The two story lines ultimately converge on the outcome of his third space prospecting mission, a mission that left him rich, famous, and profoundly depressed. Broadhead is certainly a flawed protagonist. By the end of the book we have a pretty good understanding of how he got to be the way his is, but I for one was not able to find much sympathy for him.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Highly recommended if you are into the sci-fi of the 70s. It captures the reader from the first page and you just end up wanting to know more and more and more about the understory so you can't stop reading. I will say this about the main character...I did not like him very much. I don't know if this was the author's intent but to me he came across as a jerk. If I met this guy on earth in the future, I'd be really tempted to beat him up (if I were a violent person). so here's a brief synopsis with no spoilers:Millions of years in the past, a species known as the Heechee existed throughout space and then just disappeared. As of the time of this book (there are two more to follow), nobody knows why they disappeared, and no one knows even what they looked like. All that is left of the Heechee are legends based on the artifacts of this civilization ... and to find these, one has to first get to Gateway. This is a kind of asteroid-type place discovered totally by accident, and what was novel about this place is that it seems to have been a base of some sort containing over 1000 Heechee ships...each programmed to go to a particular destination and hopefully return. But here's the problem: no one can understand the technology to know where any ship is going to go or how long the trip will take. In some cases, the ship might be out for a few days and return but in others, a ship might never come back. Worse -- a ship might return but the crew dies for some reason, not being aware of the possibilities of what they're traveling to.So at Gateway, you can take a course on how to be a "prospector" and get into one of these ships and take your chances that it will take you somewhere where you will find the extremely valuable Heechee artifacts. It is to Gateway that the main character, Robinette Broadbent (Bob) comes after winning a lottery that takes him out of the food mines in Wyoming. He has had a Heechee fascination since he was a kid and this was what he really wanted to with his life. So Gateway, the novel, is his story, told in two different settings: with his AI shrink on earth some years after his time at Gateway, and while actually on Gateway. I'm not going to go into any more of this book, because you really need to read it to understand the story. I have had this sitting on my shelf for nearly 2 years and what a mistake that was! Very highly recommended.
ommie More than 1 year ago
So hard to beleive this was written in the 70's. The visuals still hold up today! Great science fiction. It was given to my son as a gift and I picked it up between reads...glad got to it first - because it is a but adult for anyone under High School.
SFistheBest More than 1 year ago
Great book, but it was written in 1979. Why is it so expensive?
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