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Gateway (Heechee Saga) Mass Market Paperback – February 12, 1987
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From the Inside Flap
ed 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 Two:BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON
Book Three: HEECHEE RENDEZVOUS
Book Four: THE ANNALS OF THE HEECHEE
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Frederik Pohl had written this seminal book and it's follow up series that just had a new book last year published is a wild, exciting, terrifying and unpredictable story. It is the classic story of terrible poverty driving people to gamble with what little life they might have. It is a story of luck and happenstance over all other factors.
Clean up this book with a good reviewer reader and editor and publish it again. Send out a refund on this e-book edition and then send out the corrected book to every e-book buyer.
Asimov's Foundation Series
95%+ of Heinlein's work (I think I've read them all)
Clarke (Fountains of Paradise, Rendezvous with Rama)
The Stainless Steel Rat, by Harry Harrison
Ray Bradbury (451 for example)
Charles Sheffield's Cold as Ice series
Aldous Huxley (BNW, Chrome Yellow, Ape and Essence)
I think that Gateway fits into this genre very well, but closer to the "far out" range, like Niven's Rig World. Still, he handles the fantastic very well and makes it believable, as in "Yeah, that could happen."
Now the bad news. The sequels are very good and they introduce interesting new situations and characters. But in my opinion (you may think otherwise) they are 4-star. This first book in the series is the best. To me, it's well worth reading the series but Gateway is a stand-alone masterpiece, like Stranger in a Strange Land, and Fahrenheit 451. If you like shootouts with ray-guns, this is not your book.
Robinette explores love as a diversion from the dangerous journeys he is on. There are exchanges of dialogue between descriptive passages of the ships and artifacts discovered. Additionally, there are these sessions with a robot to deal with deep-seated guilt.
It pulled me into his struggle to understand himself and the Heechee civilization.
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.
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Anthony Barbera author Assurity-IS7