The Evolution of Science Fiction discussion

Gateway (Heechee Saga, #1)
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Group Reads 2018 > July 2018 Group Read - Gateway

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message 1: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments This is to discuss July's group read Gateway by Frederik Pohl.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 718 comments This was one of my favorites when I read it in college. I'm looking forward to revisiting it.


Oleksandr Zholud | 978 comments I am reading it now and so far it is not bad but I am not impressed either. psychological sessions are an interesting twist but so far I haven't clearly understood computer comments


message 4: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments I thought it was good when I read it. As I never have enough time to read, I don't generally re-read the same books and for this one I read it relatively recently. I've decided instead to read the second in the series Beyond the Blue Event Horizon instead.


message 5: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 2102 comments Mod
I'm halfway through and really enjoying it.

I like the fact that the alien technology is mostly incomprehensible to the humans.

I like that the humans are real humans who eat, drink, use the bathroom, have sex, sweat, get afraid, smell bad, etc. Much different from the shiny clean Star Trek/Wars universe. It is kinda making me think that it might not be such a good idea to plan on retiring to Mars. I probably wouldn't like it.

Still feels weird to me for people to be smoking cigarettes in tiny, cramped space ships.

I'm not going to click on the link for book 2 yet, in case there are spoilers. But I'm curious whether this was planned originally as a stand-alone.


Phil J | 100 comments I have mostly positive memories from reading this about 20 years ago, but I've seen a lot of negative feedback on it on GR for political correctness issues.


Phil J | 100 comments Since we're here to discuss the "evolution" of SF, this is a pretty significant book for that. Pohl was trying to combine Freudian psychology with some fairly hard SF. He was probably a trailblazer for that type of thing.


message 8: by Marc-André (new)

Marc-André | 298 comments Phil wrote: "Since we're here to discuss the "evolution" of SF, this is a pretty significant book for that. Pohl was trying to combine Freudian psychology with some fairly hard SF. He was probably a trailblazer for that type of thing."

Is it a subgenre of sci-fi lit? I'm not aware of it or other similar works.


message 9: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 2102 comments Mod
Finished, and really loved it. The main character is a jerk, yes, but he feels like a real character.

One unrealistic thing was that Rob was able to buy a house in New York AND also full medical coverage with only a few 10s of millions of dollars. Come on! It would take way more than that.

For those "reading" via audio, there are many places where classified advertisements or other bits of text are inserted, even including what looks like computer code. Not clear how well that would work in audio format.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 718 comments Ed wrote: "One unrealistic thing was that Rob was able to buy a house in New York AND also full medical coverage with only a few 10s of millions of dollars. Come on! It would take way more than that."

:-)


message 11: by Jon (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jon 117 pages in. It's a re-read for me, but I forget every detail so it's like reading it fresh. I read it about 15 years or so ago. Loved it then. I'm enjoying it so far. There are intrigues. Sigfrid wears on me a bit though, and I find Robinette not particularly likeable.


message 12: by Buck (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) | 899 comments I read it several years ago and I only vaguely remember it. I do remember the theme of risk and indecision. I rated it 4 stars.


message 13: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 2102 comments Mod
I found it a little difficult to get a copy of this. Eventually had to do an inter-library loan. And the binding on that copy was coming apart on me as I read it. Such a shame, because it is a good one. Someone should make an e-book version.


message 14: by Jon (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jon Just finished it. Giving it a reluctant 4/5. Was leaning toward 3, but characters were well done, despite not being likable, and there was a sense of curiosity I felt throughout. There were also some shocking moments (I won't spoil them here). The sex and profanity made it seem real. Authors often pretend profanity and sex don't exist. Primetime television often pretends profanity doesn't exist, and it makes dialogue come off as fake at times. Interesting book. Might read the next one in the series. Debating on it.


message 15: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Erwin | 2102 comments Mod
There is a point in this book where the main character has some bloody cotton gauze pulled out of his nose. This scene may not have meant much to most of you, but it affected me because I had the same thing happen in real life. I once had an operation on my nose. A few days later they had to pull the cotton out. It is far more painful than you might think. It was like (view spoiler), but actually even worse. Luckily I've never experienced any pain that bad since. Not even kidney stones come close, though they last longer.


Oleksandr Zholud | 978 comments Ed wrote: "For those "reading" via audio, there are many places where classified advertisements or other bits of text are inserted, even including what looks like computer code. Not clear how well that would work in audio format. "

The text is done verbatim in audio, which makes for example "doctor notes" hard to follow as they are partially in a code. With ads it is a bit easier. However, I assume the author never thought how it will sound, only how it'll be read


message 17: by Leo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leo | 643 comments Finished it today, I think it's great. I wanted to read this for a long time. It reminded me of Solaris sometimes.
Did anyone read more of the Heechee saga? Jo, how did you like #2?


message 18: by Jo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo | 1093 comments I didn't enjoy the second book as much as Gateway. The characters really annoyed me at the beginning. It did get much more interesting about half way through though and set itself up nicely for the third book. I think I will read the third but not yet as I want to read both this month's books first.


Sabri | 143 comments Read this a few months back, it was part of a mini collection of old sci fi novels that my wife bought me for xmas (she's a keeper).

Some books stay with you vividly for a long time, and this was certainly one of those. I still find my mind mulling over what the prayer fans are for (unless I missed something??) and what happened to the Heechee. My favourite speculation so far is that a prayer fan is some kind of spy camera, watching and transmitting data to wherever the Heechee are now. However I know there are more books in the series so maybe it is explained later. All I know is that I'm hungry for more!

I loved the idea of unfamiliar/ill-understood technology integrating into a hyper-capitalist economy. Made me think about how economic value can be quite divorced from knowledge and understanding, and yet how capitalism can nevertheless provide a powerful motivation for exploration and discovery.

I'd agree with previous comments about enjoying the sex and profanity. There's something painfully honest and introspective about it, and it lacks the slightly simplistic perspective that you get from a lot of sci fi of that era, e.g. PK Dick. Yes, Robinette clearly has some insecurities about his sexuality and gender, but they are analysed and deconstructed in a satisfying way. I was bowled over when he eventually vocalises his reason for being obsessed with (and horrified by) anal penetration (sorry if that's a small spoiler!).


Cheryl  (cherylllr) For the record, not because I feel a need to reopen the discussion, here's my review as I finally read it Sept 2019:

Not bad. Reminds me very much in attitude/ perspective of The Forever War, which had been published just a few years earlier. (If you do want to compare, get the more recent unbowdlerized TFW.) There's a bit of The Space Merchants here, too, which serves to point toward which part of that book was more influenced by Pohl than by Kornbluth.

Still, it's dated, esp. the sociology. I mean, I guess we should give ol' Fred points for including a few "girls" as intrepid explorers, and for talking about atheists as having a legit pov and about homosexuals as merely exotic and fascinating rather than as horrifying. I just can't recommend anyone who has the best modern SF collecting dust on their shelves choose this instead.

The climax and punchline are smart. But we still don't know anything about the Heechee or even why they were given that name. I may or may not continue the series.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 718 comments Leo wrote: "Did anyone read more of the Heechee saga?"

I read the first five installments back in the late 1980s - early 90s. I liked each installment a bit less than the prior one although I will say that Gateway is one of my all-time favorite SF novels. I never got around to the last one. The whole series is due for a re-read from me.


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