When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune. Three missions later, now famous and permanently rich, Robinette Broadhead has to face what happened to him and what he is...in a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!
BONUS AUDIO: In an exclusive introduction, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer explains why Gateway is one of science fiction's all-time greatest novels.
PLEASE NOTE: Some changes were made to the original text with the permission of the author.
©1977 Frederik Pohl; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Gateway is a book I’ve read several times since I was a kid, and an old favorite. At eleven, I was more interested in the science fiction aspects (somehow, most of the sex and drug use went over my head), but with repeated readings, I’ve come to appreciate the human elements of the story a lot more.
To be fair, the setup is one of the coolest in science fiction. Humanity has discovered an ancient alien space station near Venus, called Gateway, which is filled with small starships. Nobody knows what happened to the Heechee or why they abandoned their base, but many of the ships are in working order and will travel by autopilot to other star systems and the planets orbiting them.
Too bad there's a catch. Not all of the ships still work perfectly after half a million years, and some of the destinations are lethal. A once temperate star might have supernova-d since the time of Heechee civilization. Nobody has a clue how Heechee technology works. So, the Gateway Corporation recruits "prospectors" willing to risk a fairly high chance of death to take images of different parts of the galaxy and bring back artifacts that the Corporation might study.
People volunteer for this mission because life on an overcrowded Earth has become pretty miserable for most, with quality medical care available only to the wealthy few (sound familiar?). One such volunteer is Robinette Broadhead, a former miner of oil shale (now used for growing foodstuffs -- yum), who wins the lottery.
Bob, as he’s called, is a pretty flawed character, a self-centered, sex-chasing man who’s also somewhat of a coward. But he’s easy to relate to, not really being a bad guy at heart, and his fear is understandable, given the horrible deaths that await many prospectors. His story unfolds in two parts, one of which follows his life and relationships from Earth to Gateway and beyond, and the other of which has the older and now fantastically rich Mr. Broadhead in sessions with an AI psychiatrist, trying to get to the root of a deep trauma that both threads will eventually converge on. (And it is a pretty terrible one.)
Some readers aren’t fans of the sessions between Robinette and the computer psychiatrist, Sigfrid von Shrink, but I loved their relationship and think it’s integral to the story, in a subtle way. I found it fun watching Bob try to trick Sigfrid, only to find that the machine’s programming was nearly always a step ahead of him.
This book isn’t really about the Heechee (see further entries in the series to learn more about them), but about the dirty, messy tension of human desires, fears, and guilt in a place that stands between life and death, known and unknown. Gateway’s a moving examination of the psychology of our existence, of how we, from the personal level up to the species level, neither want to place our hopes on a frightening gamble on the unknown, nor on the ugly, suffering-filled known, but sometimes must make a choice and face what comes.
Still a classic.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
I first read this over 30 years ago. At that time I was amazed by the whole thought of an ancient race leaving behind a space station with ships included. The thought that humans would risk there lives getting into a ship, that they knew not where it was going or how long it would be gone. I still think that this an interesting concept as other must have since it won the Hugo and the Nebula. This time when I read it I got caught up in the characters and the cast of Blacks, Brazilians, gays, Bi's, strong women, Russians, handicapped etc. This belongs in any collection of great science fiction. The main character is a man with weaknesses and personal problems, but anyone who has every read any FP novels know that all his novels are filled with characters who are less then heroic. People who have problems, you know, kind of like yourself. If you insist that your novels have heroic swashbuckling characters with no flaws, then you will not enjoy this or any FP novel.
A good way to get through the work day.
Gateway wasn't the most action packed book, but somehow still kept my attention. Great story that really makes the listener think. Not another book i can compare this too which makes it very different but still a great book. The main character isn't the most likeable person but this adds to the realism of the characters and the story. Hoping the the next book has a little more action. Could end up being a great series.
This is not the typical sci-fi I normally read. In fact, while there is some good sci-fi in there to keep me interested in the story the interaction between Ziggy and Bob have me trapped in the story. I was planning to move on to some other books I've downloaded since starting this one but now I have to finish the series. Just too dang good.
This novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for a reason. The Narrators just about make love to this story, characterizing it. Amazing performances!
It's a novel about a man, a very normal man, who lived through extraordinary circumstances and has to deal with survivor's guilt.
The ideas here are phenomenal, world class science fiction ideas, but it's about the man, not the ideas. That makes it special.
They really brought the characters to life. I laughed a lot, and damn near cried at least once. I experienced a novel I have read a dozen times in a new way that I loved.
The universe is now open to humanity, if humans can live through discovering it.
This book is well worth the price, and well worth listening to several times. Thank you for making this presentation of it.
Great story and reading. If you like sci-fi, don't hesitate to buy Gateway. Still fresh after 30 years. Interesting premise of space exploration via trial and error with alien technology. Hope to see more of the Pohl's Heechee books and Oliver Wyman's readings.
One of the best sci fi I've read so far.I was deeply moved at the end of the book. The characters are amazing, and the story focuses much more on their development than on meaningless technological details you see so much in other sci fi works.
I can recommend this to any reader, your credit will be well spent!
Superb is the only word that suits. I've been hoping for this book to appeat in audio for years now, and happily this recording does not disappoint. One of the best Science Fiction (as opposed to the usual "sci-fi" trivia) books ever, and well narrated too. Hopefully this will sell like hot cakes and encourage Audible to continue with Beyond the Blue Event Horizon and the rest of the series.
Well done Audible.
This was my first exposure to the work of Frederik Pohl, and the result was surprising. Going in I expected this novel to be more dated and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh it was. The science fiction aspects are still thought provoking and the humanity that binds the story always will be.
Also, I've listened to many titles from this narrator, who is always great.
I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.
Yes. Great job, one of my all time favorites on Audible.
The ending is very, very well done. But the juxtaposition of Robin's sessions with Sigfried vs. his memory of what happened is so well done that the entire novel is memorable. This won a Hugo Award for good reason. It is a terrific sci fi novel.
I read Sci Fi to be entertained, a break from my work and life itself. But elements of Gateway are pretty heavy, since much of the novel is an indictment and an endorsement of psychological counseling. The readers made it interesting but not overly dramatic. Parts of the novel deal with sex, sexual norms and it was done in a way that was not lecherous. Overall they did a great job and I cannot imagine it being done better.
No I never do that... but I listened to it pretty quickly. Although Robin is not an entirely likeable characters, I found myself wanting to know what happened. That is ultimately what a good story is to me, investing in the characters.
Great job Audible!
"Great book, shame it's not genuinely unabridged"
The book is deservedly known as a science fiction classic, but watch out for this audio version as it is heavily abridged. Although it's title 'unabridged', in fact all the side bars in the text have been removed.
"A fantastic story, not at all what I expected."
Remove the Sci-fi elements and all that come with it and this story is still great that is what makes this awesome.
There is little epic about it, no world saving or anything of the sort. No heroes or villains and certainly no angels....but no demons either. The world is fantastical and futuristic but at the same time painted in shades of grey and brown.
Having just read 'Armada' this book is so very different from anything I have read before, it has layers of realism thicker than any other sci fi I have read.
Worth a read (listen).
Also the narration is the best I have heard in a long time. Excellent.
"everything that science fiction should be"
utterly compelling, beautifully paced, narrated brilliantly and the ending left me hanging in space. perfect!
This is by far the best audio fiction book I have ever listened to.
The story is paced well with a 3 dimensional central character. It is much more of a human story than I expected while being set in a very believable science fiction universe packed with detail.
The story was very well narrated and, dare I say, very well acted. The narrative brought the characters to life and made them very believable. The pacing and general narrative was excellent throughout.
The end. lol. I was sorry to hear the story end as I was very much left wanting more. This is not to say the story was left unfinished, I merely wanted the universe to continue and learn more about this wonderfully imaginative creation of Pohl's.
This is the first full fiction book I have ever listened to, as even short stories on audio do not hold my attention for long. However, the narrative was so good, the story was so gripping and the book was so well written that it held my full attention and I even found myself contemplating certain characters when I wasn't listening to the book as though they were real human beings - something which totally took me by surprise when I realised I was doing it. There is also another first for me in that I know which book I will be ordering next as I wish to continue learning more about this universe and its inhabitants (not to mention the Heechee). I am looking forward to listening to the next installment in this series.
"Good story, horrible narration"
When I listened to the sample I thought it was ok but after a couple of hours of that horrible cracked rasping voice I couldn't stand it. Now, having finished it, just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge. Not only an awful voice but the dialogue is awful too.
Despite the age it's hardly dated and still well worth reading. It is a good story, realistically conceived with interesting perspectives on mankind presented subtly without ever preaching or trying to impress.It alternates two stories both told in the first person by the protagonist, Bob. One is the story of his life as he sought to make his fortune. The other is his psychotherapy as he attempts to recover after those events. The AI psychotherapist has been described as one of science fiction's greatest character creations. I disagree. Having lived with a practising psychoanalyst for many years, I didn't find the sessions remotely realistic, nor was there a single Aha! moment or a conversation that made me stop and think about the implications of AI personality. The issues raised in Beckett's Genesis, for example, are much more thought provoking. Still it's an enjoyable story.
"Great story and expressively narrated"
I wasn't able to stop listening. For those who are interested, there's also a PC adventure game Legend published in 1992 based on this book -- a classic in itself.
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