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Gateway (Gollancz) Paperback – 1 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (1 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575078995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575078994
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 935,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Some SF writers have astonishingly long productive careers. Frederik Pohl started in 1940 and with Cyril Kornbluth co-wrote such classic 1950s satires as The Space Merchants. He won Hugo and Nebula awards for the 1977 Gateway, a major novel combining classic SF excitement with psychological depth and now reissued in Millennium SF Masterworks. The compelling central idea is Gateway itself, an asteroid base stuffed with abandoned interstellar ships built by the mysterious, elusive alien "Heechee". These tiny vessels can travel on autopilot to countless unknown destinations. Some human passengers return with fabulous technologies and scientific insights, others empty-handed. Many more die from incomprehensible hazards at journey's end, or from lack of food or air in overlong round-trips. So the atmosphere of the human community at Gateway is uniquely edgy, halfway between a gold-rush town and Death Row. Pohl's unheroic hero Broadhead has both good and bad luck in Heechee craft, emerging with riches and terrible loss. We learn the shattering story of what happened in successive flashbacks, while the engaging, scene-stealing AI psychology software called Sigfrid patiently tries to put Broadhead together again. Gateway is witty and humane, full of clever insights, ingenious asides and claustrophobic drama. Its sequels are less impressive. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
I've just noticed that this is due to be published in the SF Masterworks series, wiith the original US paperback cover, even!
I read this about 20 years ago, not long after it came out in 1977, and again a couple of times since. Probably my favourite Pohl book. It's the story of a man named Robinette Broadhead, his struggle to survive and make it rich in a world where most people are poor. On an asteroid named Gateway, a long-gone species of aliens called the Heechee left a thousand of their spaceships. No one knows how they work, but it is possible to operate them, to go to preprogrammed destinations elsewhere in the galaxy. Sometimes the crew bring back valuable discoveries. Sometimes they come back dead, or not at all. It's also the story of Broadhead's guilt at letting something terrible happen to his girlfriend, Klara, and how he learns to deal with that.
What makes the story for me is a mixture of things - Pohl's use of sidebars to give us a picture of the world the story is set in, for instance. The sense of mystery created by the fact that no one really knows what they're doing with the Heechee ships. His telling of the story in the form of flashbacks interspersed with sessions with Broadhead's psychoanalyst (who is a computer programme). Even the way it ends so suddenly, in just a page or so, when the actions that Broadhead spends years regretting flash by in a blur...
Well worth anyone's money, I'd say, and certainly an appropriate addition to the SF Masterworks series.
If you enjoy this, go on & read the other Heechee books, such as Beyond the Blue Event Horizon & Heechee Rendezvous - Pohl has created a fascinating Universe to set these stories in!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 July 2000
Format: Paperback
From the initial premise to the final resolution this novel was powerful, imaginative stuff. Revolving around the central idea that a spacestation full of abandoned alien spacecraft have been found, and which human prospectors are trying to exploit, it paints a dark and sinister tale. For, though the alien craft can be used to travel to preset destinations, nobody actually knows where most of those destinations are, or whether they will ever come back. The perils of this hi tech Russian Roulette range from flying straight into a boiling sun, to simply running out of whatever fuel these ships use. It is a tale about fear of the unknown, and overcoming that fear for greed.
The central character Robinette Broadhead is a complex person teetering dangerously on the edge of sanity, and his tale is interwoven with counselling sessions with his computer therapist Sigfrid who manages to steal every scene in which he appears.
It is a long time since I was able to lose myself in the mystique of a sci fi novel like this. Questions such as who were the Heechee who built these ships, where did they go, and what awaits humans who try to make use of their barely understood technology will keep you turning the pages to the very end.
I cannot stress how highly I regard this book. Buy it now or forever wonder what you missed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason Mills VINE VOICE on 5 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Deservedly called a classic. Pohl's novels have varied in quality, but this is undoubtedly his greatest work. The sequels are good but tend to dilute rather than intensify the original. But do not miss "Gateway".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
Although the only reviews i post are on those books that i really love (with one exception) this truly is a standout book. An intellligent, gripping and beautifully written book that deals with the ideas of fear, guilt and ultimately what it is to be human. I truly can't recommend this book highly enough and for anybody who wants to read interesting thoughtful SF you'll do well to read this. A true masterpiece
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Legal Vampire on 17 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I do not usually read science fiction, but I like this short novel.

The author, Frederik Pohl, lived from 1919 to 2013 and published science fiction prolifically on and off over about 70 years, during which time he must have seen a number of his imagined ideas of the future become reality, others disproved and some surpassed beyond all expectation.

Reviews suggest that some of his works are much better than others. I am unlikely to want to read them all. However, having initially come across his interesting 1988 short story `Waiting for the Olympians' in an anthology, Amazon reviews guided me to the novels `Gateway' and `Man Plus' as among his best, for which thank you, fellow reviewers.

Few things date more quickly than the future. A novel like this written in the 1970s inevitably gets some things right and others wrong about how technology and human society will develop. Read decades later they usually display what now appear some anachronistically old-fashioned attitudes set in what is meant to be the future. This book, like the author's other great achievement written the year before, Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) is post-sexual revolution but pre-politically correct feminism. On the other hand it is said to be the first science fiction novel to make use of the then new theory of black holes.

What it has going for it above all is a good story, including danger and mystery, and an effectively imagined society far enough in the future to be different from ours but close enough that much is comprehensible without needing to be explained.
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