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Gateway: partial closure achieved as the adventure continues
on 26 November 2004
This is the second book in the classic "Heechee" series of novels by Frederick Pohl. These books are greatly underestimated, under-read and by rights should have found their place in the pantheon of sci-fi true greats. Gateway, the first novel, was highly acclaimed when published and won multiple awards. It remains an era defining novel. In "Gateway" the neurotic anti-hero Rob(inette) Broadhead was spawned. Rob is a guilt wracked man who despite his best efforts has become wealthy, famous and succesful. Robbie is the antithesis of sci-fi heroes: he is a wimp, a bounder and an emotional wreck. With this background, only Mr Pohl could create a lovable hero chronicled over four books. The main component of Robbie's guilt trip, apart from a lousy childhood, is that he left his lover, Klara, behind in a spaceship to be swallowed up by a black hole. He becomes the sole survivor of this "exploratory" mission following a nervous breakdown induced by complete funk. He refused to join the others in the ship destined to escape. They were (he thinks) left behind to their doom, he returned, heart broken and alone to be persecuted by guilt. In "beyond the blue event horizon" we find out how Rob purges his guilt and sets up a mission to rescue Klara. The mission is the usual larger than life Pohl extravaganza and the continuity from Gateway with further development of the characters making up the original cast is superb. Rob remains incorrigibly naive, love lorn, unrealistic, neurotic and still needs his therapy. Of course when he finally gets his girl the reality of his lovesick quest is dramatically thrown in his face. Without revealing too much of the superb plot his perception of Klara as his soul mate and her perception of him don't quite meet. The writing and characterisation is superb. The new ideas, the development of the Heechee technology and their story is at its best for the series during this book. In fact the third and fourth books although excellent with great new themes and plots lack the sharpness and originality of beyond the blue event horizon. The development of this magnificent fantasy tableau is at its magical and frenetic best in this volume. This is a must read after you have read Gateway and sadly nobody is re-printing this or the whole series at this time.... Any publishers out there!!!