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Gateway (Heechee Saga) Paperback – October 12, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Heechee Saga Series

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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

"From the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) was one of science fiction's most important authors. Among his many novels are "Gateway", which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Hugo Award, the Locus SF Award, and the Nebula Award, "Beyond the Blue Event Horizon", which was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and "Jem", which won the 1980 National Book Award in Science Fiction. He also collaborated on classic science fiction novels including "The Space Merchants" with Cyril M. Kornbluth. Pohl was an award-winning editor of "Galaxy "and "If", a book editor at Bantam, and served as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by SFWA in 1993, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heechee Saga (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (October 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345475836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345475831
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although the character of Robinette Broadhead is expertly handled and the frame narrative adds to the suspense, I think the real reason this is one of the greatest sf novels of all time lies in the world Pohl has created. He has taken a silly idea, something you'd expect to find in a pre-Campbell pulp or a Silver Age comic book, and made it perfectly plausible. Imagine how it would have been done then: people discover a mysterious box and find that when you enter you will either die or become rich. It's a cool idea, and a great setup for a story, but it's also terminally silly. Pohl has taken this clumsy deus ex machina box and opened it for us, so that the roulette wheel of Gateway makes perfect sense, and both the risk and the reward become logical, even necessary, extensions of the place. My one complaint: Pohl is too addicted to the practice of ending each chapter with a clever sentence.
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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.
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