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

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Mass Market Paperback, February 12, 1987
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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 (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,484,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!

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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Customer Reviews

The setting is interesting, and the story is very effective.
Alex Frantz
I also don't consider myself to be someone who needs constant action in a story, but I'm finding Pohl's style to be lacking the action just a bit too much.
Darren C. Barnes
Gateway is Frederik Pohl's greatest work, and stands as one of the best science fiction novels I've read over the years.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 81 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on December 9, 2004
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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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Tommy M. on October 10, 2006
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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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Gregorator on January 13, 2005
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Craig MACKINNON on March 9, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The premise of Gateway is simple enough - humankind has discovered a space station abandoned 500 000 years ago by a technologically superior race (the "Heechee"). Part of the station's equipment is a group of space shuttles with faster-than-light drives. The shuttles have a capacity of 1 to 5 humans. No one can figure out most of the technology in them, but through trial and error, they learn that if a certain panel glows a certain intensity, the ship will make a round trip to.... somewhere. The truly adventurous (or desperate) sign up to ride the vessels out and back and see if they go anywhere of use (i.e. an old Heechee colony that contains some more of the wonderful Heechee artfacts/technology). Of course, because nothing is known of the destination, and because the Heechee were known to be scientists, sometimes the destinations are close to black holes, inside recent supernovae (that were stars 500 000 years ago), or the trip is too long for the occupants' food/water supplies.
The central character is Bob Broadhead, a poor miner who won enough money in a lottery for a ticket to Gateway. Unfortunately for him, he's a self-professed coward - afraid to go back to the mines, yet afraid to try his luck in the Heechee ships. It turns out that the story is more of a character study - we first meet Broadhead in his psychiatrist's office, where he's fabulously wealthy after three trips in the Heechee ships, but with deep emotional problems. The story intercuts between therapy sessions and a first-person account of the actual events leading up to his fame and pychosis.
The strength of the book is the way it maintains suspense and interest - we know what is going to happen to Broadhead, but not how, and not the fates of his friends and associates.
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