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(Heechee Saga #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  37,127 ratings  ·  1,438 reviews
Gateway: an artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. They are easy to operate, but impossible to control. Some came back with discoveries which make their intrepid pilots rich; others return with their remains barely identifiable. It is the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved futur ...more
Paperback, SF Masterworks, 280 pages
Published March 29th 2010 by Gollancz (first published 1977)
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Can you like a book when you kind of hate the main character? Especially when that character is the first-person narrator? The answer, for me, for this book anyway, is apparently "not all that much."

Gateway is one of those sci-fi classics that I am supposed to have absorbed if I want to consider myself well read in the genre. It's one of the rare Hugo/Nebula double winners (not to mention the Locus and Campbell awards, which pretty much covers all of them)! It is by one of the stalwa
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Before I began writing the review I searched for images of Gateway. This was the first one in the results:
I really have no clue about the relevance. When I think about a gateway I think about something like this:
gateway arch
or something like the following which resonates better with any serious reader:
Before I began writing the review I searched for images of Gateway. This was the first one in the results:
I really have no clue about the relevance. When I think about a gateway I think about something like this:
gateway arch
or something like the following which resonates better with any serious reader:
gateway for books

If you have even passing interest in science fiction you have most definitely heard about this novel. This one is a classic of genre with a lot of awards to prove it. Imagine somebody found a habitable asteroid which had served as a parking lot for a bunch of alien spaceships. There is no sign of the owners who supposedly disappeared around one million years ago, but the ships are still functional. The humanity has no clue how they work, or even which type of fuel they use - the ships are a classical example of a black box. Nonetheless if you poke into navigation controls you might stumble upon a good course and you can actually go there.

Unfortunately a million years is a very long time, even by the cosmic scale. You might end up too close to a new star, a red dwarf, or even black hole - good luck getting out of there. So if your luck holds your remains will be delivered back by reliable alien flying engineering marvels. If you are especially extraordinary lucky though you might stumble upon alien artifacts and sell them for a real nice chunk of money. The future depicted in the book is nice Capitalistic dystopia where people sell their own body parts to support their families, so having money is important enough for people to play Russian roulette with exploring the unknown.

Robinette (Rob) Broadhead made it big. He also has lots of issues. I mean look at his full first name; this is probably where it all started. He also has some kind of PTSD from his last expedition. So the book consists of two alternative plotlines: one is about Rob getting therapy sessions from a robot psychiatrist and another one is about his stay on the Gateway (that parking lot I mentioned above).

I have never been so torn about whether I want to continue reading the series. On one hand the Gateway part can be qualified as great space opera; I was always fascinated with the stories about the exploration of the unknown and human reaction of coming to the contact with that unknown.

On the other hand Rob Broadhead as a character is fairly repulsive and the therapy parts that obviously revolve around his emotions and mental problems are boring. How bad is Rob as a character? Let us just say when it comes to whining he can give Thomas Covenant a good run for his money, but the latter would still beat the crap out of everybody when it comes to whining. At least the former is not a rapist. He did knock out his girlfriend tooth after she hit him in a shoulder though.

Please do not get me wrong. I completely understand why this book received so many literary awards and if I had been a member of one of the award committee I would have given one unconditionally. It does not diminish the fact that therapy parts are boring - but necessary for the book.

If I am still not sure about whether to proceed with reading the series, the rating is easy: 3 stars with some space opera parts climbing as high as perfect 5.
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gateway by Frederik Pohl is good science fiction, I can see why it won the Hugo.

Essentially the story is about a time in the distant future where overpopulation and over consumption of resources have left humans in a regrettable state, but not without some promise. Oil and minerals are mined and then somehow synthetically turned into food. Also interplanetary colonization has spread the burden out some, but life on (or rather in Venus) and Mars is no picnic.

One way out is to become a prospecto
Megan Baxter
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frederik Pohl is still alive? Wow. And won a Hugo as recently as last year, for his blog. That I will have to check out. This is a guy who has been around science fiction for a long time, as a writer and as an editor. And Gateway was my first introduction to his work. Let me just go add him to the list of authors I want to read more of.... (That's not rhetorical - it's on a Sticky on my desktop.) I will want to be reading more of his work.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this when I was 15 or so, I did not like it. I have no recollection of why I did not like it. Now it is years later and I am at the age of (view spoiler), having just re-read the book I can tell you why I did not like it then and why I do like it now. Like my 15 year old self I went in expect a Big Dumb Object fun times, something along the line of Rendezvous With Rama, what I ended up reading turn out to be a fairly s ...more
Apr 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Ania by: goodreads, because I read "Ender's game", "Speaker for the dead" and "the left hand of darkness"
At first I was so excited about this book. I mean think about it: a long gone race of super intelligent beings leave us with an inheritance of a gateway to 1000 locations where unspeakable riches, both financial and scientific, await their rediscovery. The premise sounds great, right? I mean who wouldn't wanna go on an adventure in outer space? To discover just what it is that we've inherited? (And we did, I mean the Heechees left everything in pristine condition, just waiting for us.)
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: sciencefiction
"Gateway" by Frederik Pohl has long been considered a classic of Science Fiction and deservedly so. It's earned its status honestly and is one of the best books I have ever read.

What separates this from the myriad other science fiction and fantasy offerings out there?

It's the characters.

The Plot

Gateway is an asteroid in our Solar System that was hollowed out and made into a base of operations by the mysterious ancient alien race known as the "Heechee". They abando/>
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A warning: this novel's main plot is not about Big Dumb Object (BDO) or space opera. This novel is about psychological issue of the main protagonist. The protagonist get the psych problem due to the science-fiction setting.

This novel offers an idea of a psychological/mental problem that haven't happened to human in real-life yet. At final revelation, the author deliver the situation so well, I could imagine the psych (huge) impact to the protagonist. That's all I can say without spoi
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was told to read this book since I've already read Heinlein's Starship Troopers as well as Haldeman's The Forever War. Apparently, these three authors form a triangle of classic scifi views on humanity, space exploration, conflicts with aliens and how we could/would (or not) get through all that as a species.
As you can see from my very first update to this book, I wasn't too enthused. Maybe it had to do with the protocol from the sessions with the shrink bot or with the MC being a crybaby over everything
Paul Bryant
Old science fiction, what is it, let’s see – 1976. Hmm, kind of quaint, no?

Oh but I like old stuff, new science fiction gives me a headache, all that sensory overload and made up words.

So you admit you can’t take the pace any more. Just settling down with a 43 year old Hugo ‘n’ Nebula winner, kids all grown up, maturing your annuities, undoing one more notch on your belt, I get the picture.

Well, that’s not exactly the way I’d have put it –

So what’s
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019-shelf
One of the great classics of SF. On the surface, it seems to be mostly about prospecting for Alien tech and new discoveries about the missing Heechee, but in reality, it's all about psychology, and more than that, about Freudian therapy.

Say... what?

Yep! We've got ourselves something of an anti-hero written in mild shades of The Stars My Destination who we get to know very well on and off the AI therapist's couch as we learn about all the crap that turns him into a real mess. Sure, t
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This turned out to be a surprisingly good and entertaining sci-fi tale. When I picked up a copy of the novel I thought I was heading for an Edgar Rice Burroughs type pulp sci-fi story. I'll admit it was the name of the series, the Heechee Saga, that caught me out. It totally sounds like pulp sci-fi! I only realized this was a Hugo and Nebula award winner when it was mentioned by Robert.J.Sawyer in an introduction to the audiobook. That had me a little worried as I've a poor track record with cri ...more
Stevie Kincade
As I work my way through the classics of Science Fiction I haven't read, I find most of the classics are considered classics for a reason.

For me, Gateway has a classic premise:

Humans of the future finds a hollowed out asteroid that contains a few hundred small, alien ships. The aliens, called the "Heechee" left the ships, ranging in size from 1 to 5 seaters, half a million years ago. Humanity has no idea how the ships work but they press the coloured buttons and are blasted off at light spe
Lew Watts
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On this dull, foggy, and cold day, I reluctantly finished this sixth re-read of "Gateway." It's still as fresh as when I first read it in a tent in the Orkney Islands 30 years ago, waiting for the rain to stop for just a moment, for the clouds to raise their petticoats before the hint of a horizon. Eyes-closed wonder.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a well structured sci fi novel, and I can see why it is considered an influential classic, but it has one major problem that I can't get around: the protagonist is a whining, self-absorbed shithead. Since the main story is told in flashback, and he is still a whining, self-absorbed shithead in the frame story, we spend the whole book knowing that he will not grow or change at any point through the adventure he is relating to us, and for all we know his whining self-absorbed shitheadednes ...more
4.0 stars. I just re-read this story on May 13, 2010 after having first read it back in 1998. The downgrade from 4.5 stars to 4.0 stars has less to do with the quality of this book (which I still think is excellent) and more to do with the quality of other books I have read since my first reading of Gateway which have caused me to rasie the bar somewhat.

This is still a "classic SF story" that is worthy of the title and one that I recommend to any fan of science fiction. It is not as dated as ma
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I wanted to like this book but ended up annoyed and slightly disgusted. I was hopeful at first because the sci-fi elements were interesting and seems to have potential (the Heechee ships, Gateway, the food mines etc). I'd also recently finished his enjoyable capitalist-dystopian novels The Space Merchants and sequel The Merchants' War.

Sadly there is nothing to like about Pohl's protagonist in this novel, in fact Bob is a despicable human being on all accounts (and not in an intentionally anti-hero sorta way
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended if you are into the sci-fi of the 70s. It captures the reader from the first page and you just end up wanting to know more and more and more about the understory so you can't stop reading.

I will say this about the main character...I did not like him very much. I don't know if this was the author's intent but to me he came across as a jerk. If I met this guy on earth in the future, I'd be really tempted to beat him up (if I were a violent person).

so here
This is really a 4 1/2 stars book, but I’ve rounded sightly down because what promised to be psychological complexity at the core of the story wound up being just a tad too pat in the end.

So much of this tightly-constructed, deeply-imagined novel is excellent: a case study in economically written, character-driven, atmospheric, darkly funny, and humane science fiction. Our human history is riddled with the corpses of prospectors, explorers, and thrill seekers who are driven by ego or desperatio
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Come for a cleverly premised space venture, stay for the intriguingly reluctant, but persistent exploration of self. Close, contemplative and touching - Pohl makes the mysteries of extraterrestrial civilization pale in comparison to the secrets of an individual's psyche and their human experience.
David Sarkies
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
An Interesting Debrief
13 June 2018

There is literally so much to like about this book, particularly since I picked it up from this really cool game that I played something like years ago (and it was also called Gateway, and based on the book). There is a mysterious alien race that has left artifacts scattered across the universe, and there are two strands running through the book that tie up beautifully, and rather unexpectedly, at the end. Then there is that mess that certain stellar ph
Executive Summary: I had low expectations coming into this considering it was "classic" sci-fi and ended up enjoying it more than I expected. 3.5 Stars

Audiobook: I thought Oliver Wyman did a good job with the book, but nothing spectatular. She spoke clearly and the volume was good.

If you're a purist, I should warn that this is apparently not the full text despite it be listed as unabridged. I don't know exactly what's missing, but I've been told that it's some kind of supplement "documents"/>
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, reread, alien
It just goes to prove that timing has a lot to do with one's enjoyment of a book. I read this several years ago and was not impressed. I think I was being generous when I gave it a three. After getting the audio version on sale I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book.

Mankind is in desperate shape when we discover the alien space station long ago abandoned. Through the ships left in dock we can explore the far reaches of the galaxies, the only problem is we don't know how to operate the s
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Space opera combined with Freudian psychology, set in two parallel timelines. Even if the main character, Rob (Robinette) was not a likeable person, he was definitely interesting, and I totally loved 'Sigfrid' (kind of an advanced ELIZA).

Almost forgot, this comparison marked me (even though men aren't like wolves, they don't stop when seeing submission):
"It isn't a matter of what's rational or justified, it is a matter of signals. It was the wrong signal to give me. The reason wolves don'/>
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this book in 2006 — 30 years after it was first published — and it immediately shot up to my top 10 list of science fiction books. It is highly original, entertaining and thought provoking. It loses none of it's wow! even 30 years after it was written.
Daniel Villines
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gateway is what I would consider to be a true science fiction novel. Everything about this book comes across as serious commentary that can be tossed around in the reader’s head for possible relevance in the present world, as well as contemplations of Fredrik Pohl’s world 40-plus years ago.

The tone of the book is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft (Mountains of Madness) or Stanislaw Lem (Solaris). It’s narrated in the first person by the main character, Robinette Broadhead. As such, everything that comes off the page is fi().(Mountains
This story has a lot ingredients I love:

It is told in hindsight by a protagonist during psychological therapy sessions. The MC is fighting against some revelations and so the story unfolds slowly with forebodings and suspense - one of my favourite forms of storytelling.

The SF plot is of the space opera sort rooted in a future earth with a relatable, and not so terribly dated, development of Earth. Adventurers seek greener pastures in dangerous, albeit profitable - if successful - fl
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two narratives
The first dealing with the Heechee artifacts and the circumstances of the discoveries and subsequent explorations.
The second was the therapy sessions of the main character and his AI psychiatrist.

Really enjoyed the ideas and concepts of the Heechee side of the story but it got to the point where I hated the the therapy portion of the story.

Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2016
Luckily this one slipped the net of my feverish childhood sci-fi bingeathons. I would have struggled mightily with all the psychological aspects of the book which are basically the heart of the work.
Pohl swept the board garnering as full an array of sci-fi awards as it is probably possible. And reading as a 50 year old I'm more in a psychological location that can attest, "Well deserved."
Having won a comfy sum on the lottery, Robinette Broadhead trades it all in to go prospecting at an ab
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

Other books in the series

Heechee Saga (6 books)
  • Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (Heechee Saga, #2)
  • Heechee Rendezvous (Heechee Saga, #3)
  • The Annals of the Heechee (Heechee Saga, #4)
  • The Gateway Trip (Heechee Saga, #5)
  • The Boy Who Would Live Forever: A Novel of Gateway (Heechee Saga, #6)
“They were two lovely choices. One of them meant giving up every chance of a decent life forever...and the other one scared me out of my mind.” 60 likes
“Anyway, that's what life is, just one learning experience after another, and when you're through with all the learning experiences you graduate and what you get for a diploma is, you die.” 16 likes
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