Frederik Pohl was on a streak when this Hugo Award-finalist novel was published in 1980. Now back in print after an absence of nearly a decade, this unique science fiction novel is as fresh and entertaining as ever. The story begins when the hero of Gateway finances an expedition to a distant alien spaceship that may end famine forever. On the ship, the explorers find a human boy, and evidence that reveals a powerful alien civilization is thriving on a transport ship headed right for Earth….
©1980 Frederik Pohl (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
“Certainly very few books have ever held my attention in such an iron grip right up until the last paragraph, built so irresistibly to such a satisfying series of blockbuster punch lines, left me so breathless with admiration, achieved such truly cosmic scope.” (Analog)
“The kind of mind-opening conceptualization that makes the universe seem very vast and beautiful indeed. In short, this is a book that fulfills SF’s ability to entertain intelligently.” (The Chicago Sun-Times)
New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.
I give this five stars, but it is not as a strong five star as Gateway. You want to read Gateway first.
SHANTY TOWNS NEVER DISAPPEAR THEY BECOME INSTITUTIONALIZED.
I read Gateway when I was in my 20's and then I read this. At the time I could not understand it enough to enjoy it. I don't know if it is because I am older or because I listened on audible, but I found I really liked it this time around. I like Sci-Fi and I like reading about space travel. It is amazing how little Sci-Fi actually has space travel. When they have space travel it usually involves the military. This has a family in space, making it easier for me to picture myself in space.
This kept my attention. Toward the end there was some heavy math and physics. I had a little problem staying with Pohl on that, but as a whole I enjoyed the read and want to go on to the third book. As I grow older I seem to appreciate Pohl's ability to look into the future and write about it.
Chock full of spoilers (generalized). In this book, which is a sequel to Gateway, you've got new characters, you've got new aliens. Pohl zooms in on various characters, light years away from one another, and follows specific individuals. Wyman's vocalizations are distinct. One of them is very annoying--a young character that he feels compelled to always have shouting as if they are trying to prevent someone from yanking their shorts up their ass-crack.
Pohl gloriously zooms out in the book's latter part, allowing three major aspects of the Heechee phenomenon to be told. Just when you think the telescope has brought you to a logical end view of the picture, Pohl either backs away to a whole new extensions, or directs you to a microscope or CAT Scan of the subject at hand.
My big problem--which may or may not be cleared up in later installments--is that there is no action regarding Clara's plight. I thought "beyond" meant into, past, pioneering, discovering--as in "into." Instead, it's about dismissing, "getting over with," setting aside.
In that sense, I was really disappointed.
Finding the cause of the madness that recurred on earth on a regular basis--and how that madness changed according to the specific transmitter. Finding the purpose of the ubiquitous Heechee artifacts.
The variety of voices--except the hysterical one mentioned above. Boy, did that grate on my nerves.
The meeting of the travelers and the young castaway. The description of the activity of "first contact" was outrageous, pathetic, natural, shocking, and liberating!
No. It just seems to meander. Characters aren't engaging.
I was glad it was over so I could listen to something better.
So, first off, Oliver Wyman does a fine job with all the characters save two. The teenage boy, Wan, is said in the text to have a high, annoying voice, and when Wyman doe this, he sounds *exactly* like Dean from the Venture Brothers. The 'Oldest One' robot is apparently imagined here as having a deep, sepulchral voice, but the best Oliver can manage is sleepy-sounding. Otherwise, the performance is fine.
The story is utterly disappointing, and more than a little confusing. Where did the sleep guns come from? Why did we spend so much time on the 'squint' character, if she didn't turn out to be the 'Oldest One' after all? Did Peter go into the dream couch as he was dying on purpose? Why? Why did Henrietta happen to spout a critical plot point that no one knew was important at the time when they talked to her? What was the 'Oldest One's' big plan anyway? If the Heechee took some proto-human hominids from Africa a few million years ago and put them on Heechee heaven and subjected them to an intelligence-seeking breeding program, why are they so far behind naturally-evolved humans in the book? Why is it obvious to every reader that the old ones are human ancestors, but no one in the book realizes that for chapters and chapters?
In the end, it's a big mess that ends with an un-dramatic thud as the only villain is killed with one lucky shot and everyone goes back home. Then follows almost an hour of exposition by the most-boring-est character as he drones on explaining everything the author didn't bother to include in the actual plot and setting it up for a sequel in a completely desultory way. No thanks.
While the Hee-chee story line is a great one, this book seems to have been written as a means to an end; it is an underwhelming and anti-climactic bridge between the first and third novels in this series.
I would have preferred a more satisfying ending.
Don't want to give it away, but the "prayer fans" revelation was interesting.
It inspired me to avoid further sequels, unfortunately.
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