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Gateway (Heechee Saga) Mass Market Paperback – February 12, 1987

4 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Heechee Saga Series

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Pandemic by Sonia Shah
"Beacon 23"
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe...and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune. Three missions later, now famous and permanently rich, Robinette Broadhead has to face what happened to him and what he is...in a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!
THE HEECHEE SAGA
Book One:GATEWAY
Book Two:BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON
Book Three: HEECHEE RENDEZVOUS
Book Four: THE ANNALS OF THE HEECHEE

About the Author

Frederick Pohl has been a SF writer and editor for almost 50 years. He grew up in New York, but now lives near Chicago. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heechee Saga (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (February 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345346904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345346902
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pohl's first entry in the Heechee series is really two books in one: a space adventure about pioneers exploring the universe and a tongue-in-cheek look at artificial intelligence through a Freudian prism.

"Gateway" alternates between two storylines. Robinette (Bob) Broadhead, a young man drudging away in an underground food mine on Earth, wins a lottery and uses his earnings to travel to Gateway, a portal that was constructed and abandoned by an unknown species and that contains hundreds of modules which transport voyagers to predetermined locations throughout the universe. Adventurers are paid immense royalties by the Gateway Corporation for any scientific discoveries and for booty, but there are two hitches: nobody has ever been able to figure out in advance the destination for each module and a rather significant proportion of the explorers either return dead or are never seen again.

Pohl ably depicts the claustrophobia of the Gateway colony and of space travel, and he convincingly imagines the fear and excitement that precedes each journey. Once our hero arrives at Gateway, however, he finds himself thwarted far more by his fear of dying than motivated by the desire for glory and fortune; after his training he proves a reluctant pioneer. The accurate and realistic portrayal of this inertia is simultaneously one of the novel's strengths and its downside, since the reader all but experiences Bob's indolence while he gets up enough nerve to set out on a trip: "Most days we simply spent deferring decisions." Living and working in space can be quite tedious.

Between Bob's recollections of his life in Gateway are transcripts of his conversations, years later, with Sigfrid, a computer/robot who serves as his A.I. shrink.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps it's the extensive psychotherapy that turns people off, but I found Gateway to be one of the most moving pieces of sci-fi I have ever read, second to Stranger in a Strange Land. Gateway came about 15 years later, and the 70s were a fantastic time for the genre, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary, but I think it's important that you know where I'm coming from as a reader.

At any rate, I was engrossed by the humanity, or vulnerability, of the characters in this book. It's not something you see very often in the genre. While characters in an Asimov or Clarke novel (God love them) may only serve to move the plot, Pohl lets the plot move around them; the central conflict is within. So this may actually turn off the escapist reader.

But this is still firmly science fiction, as it explores speculative ideas as a necessary part of the story. Nothing today can approximate the Gateway space station; only on a smaller scale, at best. It's a story of desperation that also carries science fiction's famous "sense of wonder." It's something every star gazer has felt, and Pohl nails it.

Unfortunately, he isn't as adept in psychiatry as he is spinning yarns, and the sections with Bob talking to his therapist feel slightly dull compared to the sharpness of Gateway station and its occupants. But only by comparison. It's also one of the few books I've ever re-read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Read this years ago, haven't forgotten a word. Astounded that nobody's made a movie of it -- can't think of a more cinematic novel. Because of its odd structure and unexpected humor, some might think it just plain strange -- but rarely has the intensity ratcheted up, for me, as highly as in this one book.

Only caveat is this, and let me be absolutely clear:

Do. Not. Read. The. Sequels.
5 Comments 41 of 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
By all means, read Gateway. But DO NOT do it on Kindle.

A rational person can hardly criticize the substance of one of the all-time classics of the SF genre. I can, however, ask whether an editor or proofreader ever bothered to take a look at the Kindle version of this book. By all appearances, the answer is a resounding "no."

The text of this Kindle edition contains so many typographical and "typesetting" errors that many pages are simply unintelligible. Phrases (and even complete sentences).repeat themselves many times. Random phrases are injected willy-nilly into unrelated sentences. Other errors appear to be the result of using a scanner and a very weak character recognition program. For instance, "Shirl" becomes "Shid" repeatedly.

In short, a great book from a great author. But be prepared to wade through the detritus of the laziest publisher of all time.
1 Comment 15 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dear Frederik Pohl,
Are you aware that someone has completely butchered your prose when they put your acclaimed book into the Kindle format? Imagine my frustration, a first-time reader of Gateway, to find the novel's dramatic action frequently interrupted by incomplete sentences (missing words) and rampant spelling errors. At first I just shrugged my shoulders and told myself that the poor transcription surely would improve; but when every other page drew attention to someone's incompetence, I got annoyed and started to underline the many problems. I do recommend your fine book to people, but they will have a much better experience if they avoid this Kindle edition and read the paperback. Just a few examples of what they've done to your sentences:
"basic progrpmming" Page 154
"persues all" Page 156
"I was surprise for a" Page 159
"I mind was spinning" Page 164
"with with visions of sugarplums" Page 164
"at the cisino" Page 175
"a quarter-proffle smile" Page 175
"about Kiara's decision" Page 178 [Klara, not Kiara, is one of the main characters]
"get next to Kiara" Page 180
"what ten or twenty million do looked like" Page 180
"Rob, are [you] aware that the name you said...? Page 184
"which gives [a] kind of securiy I prize" Page 184
"Kiara said" Page 196
"She her hand off my chest" Page 200
"Kiara said" Page 201
"Kiara snarled" Page 203
"that Kiara" Page 205
"when it come[s] right down to it" Page 206
"spiral gaget" Page 212
"I delirius with heatstroke" Page 214
"I'm going to have to let you take can yourself" Page 214
"designated me chief gofer" Page 219
"He doest care if you" Page 222
ETC...
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