Gateway (1977) by Frederik Pohl

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Gateway (1977) by Frederik Pohl

Post  BoG on Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:53 am

Wikipedia wrote:Gateway is a 1977 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It is the opening novel in the Heechee saga. Several sequels followed, and the novel was adapted into a computer game in 1992.

Gateway won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
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Wikipedia wrote:Gateway is a space station built into a hollow asteroid (or perhaps the dead heart of a comet) constructed by the Heechee, a long-vanished alien race. Humans have had limited success understanding Heechee technology found there and elsewhere in the solar system. The Gateway Corporation administers the asteroid on behalf of the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, New People's Asia, the Venusian Confederation, and the United States of Brazil.

Nearly a thousand small, abandoned starships are at Gateway. By extremely dangerous trial and error, humans learn how to operate the ships. The controls for selecting a destination have been identified, but nobody knows where a particular setting will take the ship or how long the trip will last; starvation is a danger. Attempts at reverse engineering to find out how they work have ended only in disaster, as has changing the settings in mid-flight. Most settings lead to useless or lethal places. A few, however, result in the discovery of Heechee artifacts and habitable planets, making the passengers (and the Gateway Corporation) wealthy. The vessels come in three standard sizes, which can hold a maximum of one, three, or five people, filled with equipment and hopefully enough food for the trip. Some "threes" and many "fives" are armored. Each ship includes a lander to visit a planet or other object if one is found.

Despite the risks, many people on impoverished, overcrowded, starving Earth hope to go to Gateway. Robinette Stetley Broadhead—known as Robin, Rob, Robbie, or Bob, depending on circumstances and his state of mind—is a young food shale miner on Earth who wins a lottery, giving him just enough money to purchase a one-way ticket to Gateway. Once there, he is frightened of the danger and delays going on a mission as long as he can. Eventually he starts running out of money, and although he is terrified, he goes out on three trips. The first is unsuccessful. On the second, he makes a discovery through unauthorized experimentation, but the bonus he is awarded is offset by the large penalty for incapacitating the ship. On his third trip, the Gateway Corporation tries something different: sending two five-person ships, one slightly behind the other, to the same destination. Bob signs up in desperation, along with Gelle-Klara Moynlin, a woman he has gradually come to love on Gateway, and who is struggling with her own fears.
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