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At a time of food shortages, a crashing world economy and recently expensive fuel, Gateway by Frederik Pohl is relevant and contemporary. Told in flashback through a series of conversations between a patient and his psychiatrist, Gateway, is an account of Robinette Broadhead's time on Gateway, an alien outpost.
Gateway captures the feeling of adventure of the classic frontier stories bringing to mind the works of Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London and Jules Verne. Gateway is both an island of untold mysteries and treasure and port of call for potentially dangerous trips into uncharted space.
The old days of exploration to the "new world " were controlled by governments. Gateway, the profits go to the "Corporation ". Anything that can be charged or taxed is and failure to pay will result in being kicked off Gateway (whether or not a seat on a ship is available). Having worked for a number of venture capital funded, cash-strapped corporations, I found the seedy business side of Gateway very amusing.
Gateway by itself is solid, well told science fiction. Pohl adds more realism to it by including tidbits of fictional ephemera like lines of code from the computerized psychiatrist, rules and regulations posted by the corporation and a large number of classified ads. The classifies were my favorite addition to the novel.
The book is the first novel length story set in the Heechee universe. They were first mentioned in Merchant of Venus. The remaining books in the Heechee book are Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980), Heechee Rendezvous (1984), Annals of the Heechee (1987) and The Boy Who Would Live Forever (2004). I have the remaining two books of the original trilogy and will be reviewing them early in 2009. If I didn't have other reading commitments, I would be reading and reviewing them now.
A thought for you as I close this review. Don't the ships on 1977 cover look like the Axiom from Wall-E?
Good article. Pohl is one of the sci-fi greats, no doubt. "Beyond the Blue Event Horizon" is also a very good read.
Comment #2: Saturday, December 7, 2008 at 10:38:43
I've just started Beyond the Blue Even Horizon and so far it's been great.
Comment #3: Thursday, December, 4, 2008 at 14:30:51
I've never read Gateway, but it sounds interesting.
Comment #4: Saturday, December 7, 2008 at 10:41:15
If you enjoy adventure stories or science fiction, you'll enjoy it.