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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic
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...
Published on 2 Mar. 1999

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read, an average story
Whilst reading this book I did find it quite compelling, and found it easy to get into and read through. The premise is interesting and some of the ideas are really excellent.

The parallel telling of the main character's psycho analysis in the present time along with flashback retelling of the story leading him to that point is quite well constructed...
Published on 17 May 2007 by Mr. I. A. Macpherson


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic, 2 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERCLASS IN HOW SCI FI SHOULD BE WRITTEN., 3 July 2000
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Pohl's best work, 5 Aug. 2001
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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
5.0 out of 5 stars a rare book of intelligent beauty, 2 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars I do not usually read science fiction, but I like this short novel, 17 July 2014
By 
Legal Vampire (Buckinghamshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (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.

The story is narrated by the central character but his narrative it is now and then interspersed with imaginary documents from his time, from classified advertisements to mission reports, that add variety to the reading experience and shed side lights on the society in which the narrator lives, avoiding the need for excessive explanatory digressions.

It is a time when humans are just beginning to explore the universe beyond their solar system, aided by partly-understood fragments they discover here and there of machines and artefacts of an advanced and unknown technology seemingly left behind long ago by - they don't know whom, but the machines do not seem to have been designed for use by creatures shaped like humans.

People are learning by trial and error, and the errors can be fatal, how to use some of this technology, including spacecraft set to go to various destinations in the universe that the original creators must once have had their own reasons for wanting to visit.

Among the interludes are the narrator's sessions with a computer programmed to function as a psychotherapist. At first this seems a single joke about therapy that goes on too long, but in the end does have an important function in explaining to us how the story ends, semi-tragically. The ultimate fate of the narrator's crew members is one I would never have thought up.

By the end of the story some major things, especially about the alien technology, are still unexplained. Information on the Internet is that the author did eventually explain many of them in his subsequent `Heechee' novels, although I do not know if the explanations were part of his original plan when writing `Gateway' or were later rationalisations. In a way, I would perhaps rather leave them forever mysteries
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear, guilt and the human spirit., 4 Feb. 2014
By 
Mr. Timothy W. Dumble (Sunderland, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
The strength of this excellent book is the pleasing premise on which it is founded. The theme of a human encounter with the artefacts and machinery of a mysteriously vanished alien civilisation is redolent of ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ by Arthur C Clark published three years prior. However Pohl develops this shared theme brilliantly by introducing a means by which humanity can travel at in access of the speed of the light without the usual literary and scientific objections. In this way he is able to maintain a high degree of scientific verisimilitude.

The narrative is cleverly peppered with scientifically accurate contributions about neutron stars, black holes and the dilation of time around such singularities. Pohl brilliantly constructs a tangible space community with a convincing ethos, population and culture skilfully sketched through the inclusion: of resident’s letters, adverts and mission reports.

This is a study of fear, desperation and the pioneering spirit of humanity. The claustrophobia of the semi lit Heechee tunnels of Gateway and spacecraft adroitly create tension and suspense throughout.

At the heart of the narrative is also a pleasing theme of guilt as the flawed central character struggles to come to terms with the consequences of his own survival. This is developed through the dialogue between Brodhead and his AI psychotherapist the juxtaposition between who serves to illuminate the former and the reader as to what it is to be human.

Pohl writes with fluidity and pace and uses comic one-liners to great effect. This is an accomplished piece of writing which is convincing on many levels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bob's Excellent Adventure, 6 Aug. 2011
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Bob Broadhead toils away at a boring labor job with little hope of anything better. When he wins the lottery, the prize money is enough for one-way passage to the asteroid Gateway. Its main attraction is a long-abandoned Heechee spaceport. The Heechee are long gone, but have left behind nearly a thousand spacecraft. Most can be made to work by twisting a few dials and pushing the launch button. But nobody knows how to control where they go. Bob joins the pool of prospectors who risk such trips, hoping to find high tech artifacts or new worlds.

The story is told as a series of therapy sessions between Bob and an artificial intelligence therapy program, alternating with flashbacks to Bob's earlier life and his three prospecting missions. The therapy discussions are sometimes painful and "Sigfrid" the therapist is both persistent and subtle. Even though his presence in therapy makes it clear that Bob survived all three missions, there are still surprises, puzzles, and interpersonal tensions. Although this is a complete story on its own, Bob's life story continues in Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Heechee Rendezvous, and The Annals of the Heechee.

This is an enjoyable story and worthy of its good reputation as a science fiction classic. It has an early Heinlein feel to it. Some of this comes from the institutional setting of the Gatway asteroid and the corporation that runs it. Some comes from Bob's difficulties understanding women. At least Bob--unlike a number of Heinlein characters-- knows that he has issues and looks for help to deal with them.

It's a good read. And a good listen as an audio book. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deserved science fiction classic, 25 April 2011
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Frederik Pohl's Gateway has the rare distinction of winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards, that is both the award given by critics and by readers (in addition to also winning the John W Campbell Award). That popular and critical acclaim deservedly recognises the skill of a novel that weaves a story set in space with the exploration of the psychology of one of the main characters. Chapters alternate between sessions with a robotic psychiatrist and accounts of space exploration.

It is best to gloss over the question of why robots are not more widely used in the space exploration of the book (why send humans on risky voyages of discovery rather than, at least initially, machinery?) but that is the only real flaw in the book's internal logic. It is a minor flaw set against the scope and possibility of the setting - a mystery departed alien lifeform has left behind numerous spaceships, programmed in ways that humans have not yet understood to take courses to unknown locations.

The result - prospectors willing to risk their lives on the random lucky dip to find out where a course ends, whether it is in death, tedium or the pay day of finding new technologies to exploit. In some ways therefore Pohl's novel is Western style gold-rushes transferred to space, with space filling a similar role to that of the desert in separating off the main characters from the rest of society.

Though the book's future has a multinational feel, with nationals of several countries featuring, in one respect it is very rooted in the concerns of twentieth century American life - worries over how to afford health insurance are as prevalent in the book at they were in American society at the time Frederik Pohl wrote Gateway.

The book had a number of sequels, though Gateway is by far the most famous and is the one that often features in "best of" lists.

One tip - although audio versions of this book are called unabridged, in my experience they exclude the side-bars which form a significant part of the text. The book works without them, just not as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes a mark, 21 Feb. 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (Wellington, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This book is about a human who wins two gambles at long odds to become enormously wealthy. Along the way he incurs some great losses. As the story unfolds about his journey to riches, his emotions are explored through scenes with his robot psychologist.

The characters and science are credible, the plot is strong, and the movement between action and reflection is handled well. It's a thought-provoking read, Not every question raised is answered, not all the answers are clear cut, but the book still reaches a satisfying conclusion.

There are some things that jar a little, such as the amount of cigarettes that the hero smokes and the device of using "classifieds" posted in the the Gateway space station every twenty pages or so, however, these are minor irritations.

Gateway is an absorbing book to read. It's also one that's stayed with me, prompting reflections about how we should deal with fear, destiny and adversity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 13 Feb. 2010
By 
J. Pemberton "Biker_Jez" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I wanted to find a good sci-fi book and when I stumbled upon Gateway I thought it sounded very interesting, so I bought it. I'm extremely glad i chose this book as it is very impressive and I got really hooked.

Robinette, the main character is a strange one to understand which makes him very interesting and in turn makes the book a very intriguing read. He talks to a computer program called Sigfrid and between them, they have some truly fascinating conversations, with some extremely funny parts at times. These conversations are real time, and during these, the other dimension to this book, which evolves around Gateway and the Heechee, is told in a series of flashbacks, again very interesting. I really love the concept of the Heechee craft and how it all revolves around them and Gateway. A very sinister and slighlty unexpected twist at the end aswell!

All in all a very good read and i would highly recommend it.
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Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Frederik Pohl (Paperback - 29 Mar. 2010)
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