Difference between revisions of "Gateway (novel)"

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'''''Gateway''''' is a [[science fiction]] novel by [[Frederik Pohl]] and first serialized in ''Galaxy'' magazine starting in November 1976 before being published as a book in April 1977. This is the first book in the ''[[Heechee Saga (universe)|Heechee Saga]]''. The book was later adapted to a video game and was planned to be made into a television series, but it hasn't panned out.
 
'''''Gateway''''' is a [[science fiction]] novel by [[Frederik Pohl]] and first serialized in ''Galaxy'' magazine starting in November 1976 before being published as a book in April 1977. This is the first book in the ''[[Heechee Saga (universe)|Heechee Saga]]''. The book was later adapted to a video game and was planned to be made into a television series, but it hasn't panned out.
  
The story takes place in a [[dystopia|dystopian]] future where Earth has become severely over populated, and revolves around Robinette "Rob" Broadhead who started his life very poor, but, after winning the lottery, decided to become a space prospector. Prospectors risk their lives using the space ships of an ancient disappeared alien race called the Heechee. They don't understand how the ships work, so they just punch in random coordinates and hope the flight will take them to a planet with technology they can bring back and sell, but a large percentage of the trips end in horrible death. The story bounces between Rob's past as a prospector, and his present where he spends much of his time talking to an AI psychologist.
+
The book is set in a [[dystopia|dystopian]] future where Earth has become severely over populated, healthcare can only be afforded by the ultra-wealthy, people sell their organs to pay their family's debts, and a rich corporation has very powerful control becaue they discovered alien technology. The story revolves around Robinette "Rob" Broadhead who started his life very poor, but, after winning the lottery, decided to become a space prospector. Prospectors risk their lives using the space ships of an ancient disappeared alien race called the Heechee. Nobody understands how the ships work, so the corporation had people punch in random settings and hope the flight will take them to a planet with alien technology they can bring back and sell, but a large percentage of the trips end in horrible death. The story bounces between Rob's past as a prospector, and his present where he spends much of his time talking to an AI psychologist.
  
 
==Personal==
 
==Personal==
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* The absent Heechee and their various artifacts are pretty interesting.
 
* The absent Heechee and their various artifacts are pretty interesting.
 
* Having to go off on probable suicide missions adds a lot of tension and fear to the story.
 
* Having to go off on probable suicide missions adds a lot of tension and fear to the story.
 +
* Although there are a lot of problems with it, I like that the book uses an AI psychologist. A sure sign of things to come.
  
 
===Bad===
 
===Bad===
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===Ugly===
 
===Ugly===
* Even if I could forgive Pohl's awful future where a man can savagely assault a woman in public to the point of knocking her teeth out and not be arrested, the "justification" Pohl gives for Rob doing this is absolutely horrible. Claiming that animals don't kill each other because they always submit to the stronger one is not only zoologically wrong, but doesn't apply to humans anyway.
+
* Even if I could forgive Pohl's awful future where a man can savagely assault a woman in public to the point of knocking her teeth out and not be arrested, the "justification" Pohl gives for Rob doing this is absolutely horrible. Claiming that animals don't kill each other because they always submit to the stronger one is not only zoologically wrong, but doesn't apply to humans anyway. The fact that Clara isn't too bothered by this makes me hate him even more.
* While I enjoy sex in fiction, this book plays out more like a juvenile fantasy. Despite being poor, cowardly, and a drunken asshole, Rob has no trouble finding a variety of women eager to sleep with him. However, I do appreciate that, after he becomes extremely wealthy and women are having sex with him for the fame, he ultimately finds it  unfulfilling.
+
* On multiple occasions, Rob violates the privacy of psych patients by hacking into their session logs so he can watch the more attractive female patients reveal their secrets. Not only does this make him a horrible person, but the fact that Siegfried knows about it and does nothing to stop him also underlines just how unbelievable this society is.
* I appreciate the inner turmoil Rob shows about possibly being bisexual, but I think it doesn't work well. Sure, maybe Pohl's future is just as bigoted as the present when he wrote it, but the reason he gives for Rob's bisexuality (that he only felt love from his mother when she was using a rectal thermometer on him and that caused him to be attracted to men) is insultingly ignorant to same-sex attraction.
+
* While I enjoy sex in fiction, this book plays out more like a juvenile fantasy. Despite being poor, cowardly, a frequent substance abuser, not that attractive, and an asshole, Rob has no trouble finding a variety of women eager to sleep with him. However, I do appreciate that, after he becomes extremely wealthy and women are having sex with him for the fame, he ultimately finds it  unfulfilling.
 +
* I appreciate the inner turmoil Rob shows about possibly being bisexual, but I think it doesn't work well. Sure, maybe Pohl's future is just as bigoted as his present was when he wrote it, but the reason he gives for Rob's bisexuality (that he only felt love from his mother when she was using a rectal thermometer on him and that caused him to be attracted to men) is insultingly ignorant to how same-sex attraction forms.
  
 
==Media==
 
==Media==

Revision as of 13:43, 20 January 2022

1st edition US cover.

Gateway is a science fiction novel by Frederik Pohl and first serialized in Galaxy magazine starting in November 1976 before being published as a book in April 1977. This is the first book in the Heechee Saga. The book was later adapted to a video game and was planned to be made into a television series, but it hasn't panned out.

The book is set in a dystopian future where Earth has become severely over populated, healthcare can only be afforded by the ultra-wealthy, people sell their organs to pay their family's debts, and a rich corporation has very powerful control becaue they discovered alien technology. The story revolves around Robinette "Rob" Broadhead who started his life very poor, but, after winning the lottery, decided to become a space prospector. Prospectors risk their lives using the space ships of an ancient disappeared alien race called the Heechee. Nobody understands how the ships work, so the corporation had people punch in random settings and hope the flight will take them to a planet with alien technology they can bring back and sell, but a large percentage of the trips end in horrible death. The story bounces between Rob's past as a prospector, and his present where he spends much of his time talking to an AI psychologist.

Personal

I was looking for a short and popular sci-fi novel to read and this one fit the bill.

Status

I don't own this book, but I am listening to an audio book recording read by Jim Jensen

Review

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The absent Heechee and their various artifacts are pretty interesting.
  • Having to go off on probable suicide missions adds a lot of tension and fear to the story.
  • Although there are a lot of problems with it, I like that the book uses an AI psychologist. A sure sign of things to come.

Bad

  • Siegfried, the AI psychologist, seems based on Freud. He spends much of his time trying to interpret Bob's dreams and his relationship with his mother. I'm not sure if that was the state of psychology in 1977, but it's way off now. Also, Siegfried appears to have been written in BASIC!
  • I found the various newspaper articles, interviews, logs, etc. interspersed throughout the book to be distracting. I think I would have preferred if they were organically worked into the story.
  • If the Heechee ships are in such short supply, and traveling in them frequently results in the loss of a ship, it seems unlikely that the people in charge would allow the ships to be used so carelessly.
  • Like most sci-fi authors, Pohl's futurism really missed the mark. Everyone smokes, there's no Internet, the USSR still exists, music is still stored on cassettes, etc. While the Heechee technology is futuristic, all the human technology is still pretty much set in the 1970s.

Ugly

  • Even if I could forgive Pohl's awful future where a man can savagely assault a woman in public to the point of knocking her teeth out and not be arrested, the "justification" Pohl gives for Rob doing this is absolutely horrible. Claiming that animals don't kill each other because they always submit to the stronger one is not only zoologically wrong, but doesn't apply to humans anyway. The fact that Clara isn't too bothered by this makes me hate him even more.
  • On multiple occasions, Rob violates the privacy of psych patients by hacking into their session logs so he can watch the more attractive female patients reveal their secrets. Not only does this make him a horrible person, but the fact that Siegfried knows about it and does nothing to stop him also underlines just how unbelievable this society is.
  • While I enjoy sex in fiction, this book plays out more like a juvenile fantasy. Despite being poor, cowardly, a frequent substance abuser, not that attractive, and an asshole, Rob has no trouble finding a variety of women eager to sleep with him. However, I do appreciate that, after he becomes extremely wealthy and women are having sex with him for the fame, he ultimately finds it unfulfilling.
  • I appreciate the inner turmoil Rob shows about possibly being bisexual, but I think it doesn't work well. Sure, maybe Pohl's future is just as bigoted as his present was when he wrote it, but the reason he gives for Rob's bisexuality (that he only felt love from his mother when she was using a rectal thermometer on him and that caused him to be attracted to men) is insultingly ignorant to how same-sex attraction forms.

Media

Covers

Links

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