David's Reviews > Gateway

Gateway by Frederik Pohl
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May 06, 12

bookshelves: 2012
Read from May 02 to 06, 2012

1977 classic Hugo winning Sci-Fi classic is quite an entertaining tale, especially for a book of this genre that has relatively little action. Robinette "Bob" Broadhead wins the lottery in a distant future NYC, and uses his winnings to become a prospector on Gateway, an alien artifact satellite near Venus left by an abandoned advanced species who left hundreds of space ships capable of breaking the light barrier. They all have pre-programmed destinations. Nobody knows exactly what each ship will do or where it will go. By paying the expensive taxes, you have the opportunity for two extremes - come back with a new discovery and get filthy rich off the royalties (which very few do), or never be seen again (which happens quite frequently).

This is a book about Bob's three trips, and the traumatic results of the final trip that have sent him back to Earth as both famous and in need of psychiatric help from a robotic shrink named Sigfrid. The three trips comprise all of the book's action, so the narrative is driven by alternating chapters of Bob and Sigfrid on earth with flashbacks to Gateway. The chapters with Bob and Sigfrid are pure satire, philosophical and quite humorous. The other chapters are mostly speculative.

There is a lot of good hard science, and enough rich character development to proclaim this a solid read. One glaring scientific inaccuracy that I couldn't shake is not that we know faster than light travel to be impossible without something involving quantum mechanics and dimensions...but that there is absolutely no relativistic effect to these trips...something that writers like Joe Halderman were including in their light-speed travel stories years before this book was published. This one detail shouldn't be that annoying, but it is enough so to almost change my classification of this story as fantasy. However you categorize it, the novel is definitely worth reading.
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