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Comment: Dust jacket in good condition. Book club edition. Shelf and handling wear to cover and binding, with general signs of previous use.
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Gateway Hardcover – 1977

4.2 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1977
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martins; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312317808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312317805
  • Package Dimensions: 20.6 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,166,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 he must have seen some of his ideas of the future become reality, others disproved and some surpassed beyond expectation.

Reviews suggest that some of his works are much better than others. I would not 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. However, 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 too much explanation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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