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Publisher's Summary

Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe...and on reaches of unimaginable horror.

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.

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1978
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1978
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Award, Best Novel, 1978

What listeners say about Gateway

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A human-focused SF classic

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.

145 people found this helpful

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A waste of time

After a rather long hiatus from writing reviews, one would think that I would return with one about a well received book. Unfortunately, this is not to be the case. I was enticed to read this book based on a great review by Ryan who, it turns out, writes a great review about not so great a book. He said he read the book several times since he was a kid. While it is not a particularly interesting adult book, it is definitely Not a “kids’ book.” This book managed to capture not only the Hugo award but also the Nebula. How it did so is beyond me except there must not have been very good writing back in 1978.

The premise of the story starts off interesting: a long, disappeared race of beings leaves behind a fleet of spacecraft that present-day “prospectors” take to unknown destinations in search of wealth and fame. The destinations are unknown because the craft are not well understood and the explorer / prospectors just go along for the “programmed” ride and hopefully don’t end up dying along the way or at their destinations because after millennia the destination star system may have gone or is in the process of going nova. Or, maybe the destination is invested with poison ivy and the visitors get all itchy and scratch themselves to death. No, I’m not making this up.

The hero, who is not much of a hero, let’s just call him the protagonist, throughout the book has conversation with a robotic teddy bear who is his automated psychotherapist. These sessions include excursions into the realms of not so traditional sex to our protagonist’s relationship with his mother. I’m no prude. This is not what’s so wrong with this book. It was just all pure detritus. The book was not interesting, the narrator could not and did not save the written word. Sometimes a good narrator will do that. Not here. The book has an unsatisfying ending and in no way, shape or form could I recommend it for anyone or anything… Not for anything except maybe starting a fire in your fireplace on a day like this. And if you have a digital copy, well sorry, it’s not even good for that.

60 people found this helpful

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A Classic

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.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

At last!

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.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Sci Fi masterpiece

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!

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

more heechee please

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.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Half decent, half awful

There are two timelines in this book: the Present in which our hero spends his days in psychotherapy with an AI, and the Past which takes place in and around Gateway and the Heechee mystery.

The Present is awful. 50% of the book that reads like listening to a particularly boring psychotherapy session. Nothing interesting happens AT ALL until perhaps the last few chapters. Just a poor rich guy who's got some mom issues, some sexuality issues, and a guilt trip to deal with. And the narrator's Therapist voice quickly becomes irritating. I found myself fast forwarding through these chapters..... maybe I missed some really great stuff, but it sure doesn't seem that way.

The Past is better. You've got the standard sci-fi fare of an unknown alien civilization and humanity trying to puzzle out their advanced technology. Pohl gives us enough plot and science fiction musings to keep the book readable. However as a fan of hard sci-fi I found the general scenario involving Gateway and missions are run a little silly. Without spoiling anything: why in the name of Zeus could they not build robots to do these missions??!?! All it needs to do is activate 1 control, take some pictures, turn on a machine that scans for several signatures, take pictures of those scans, activate the original control again, and come home. Instead poorly trained humans get tossed into the unknown and often wind up dead through starvation, splattered through G forces, lost in space because they ran out of gas, irradiated when their ship drops to near a star, or they do something stupid in a mad dash for loot and fame.

I read reviews that the next books are a little harder sci-fi and less people acting like whiners and cryers in space. I'll probably pick the next one up from the library. So let's say 2.5 stars for the half of the book that was decent.





19 people found this helpful

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Famous and weak

What would have made Gateway better?

I prefer my protagonists to be more mature and heroic. Robin Broadhead is a childish loser whom I don't want much to succeed at his endeavors. Development of the main characters is poor. They don't seem to talk to each other much since they are so busy drinking, using drugs and having sex. The only real insight we get into Robin's character is from his artificially intelligent computer psychiatrist. And this insight is only in retrospect after the events of the book.

What was most disappointing about Frederik Pohl’s story?

The basic premise of the story is that humanity discovers around 1000 alien space ships that we don't know how to use properly. This is acceptable. What is not reasonable is that governments or corporations would entrust a bunch of incompetent, loser, rejects with 3 weeks of training to take these ships out. I believe the military would be flying these ships. If not, why not use highly trained and psychologically stable civilians I was not able to suspend my disbelieve regarding this basic premise.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Oliver Wyman and Robert J. Sawyer ?

Maybe.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I liked the AI psychiatrist character.

Any additional comments?

I don't understand how this famous Hugo awarded book is liked by so many when it seems so weak to me.

17 people found this helpful

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Not What I Expected

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.

16 people found this helpful

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Whoa! Inventive and thought provoking.

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.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Pack
  • 04-27-11

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.

20 people found this helpful

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  • A. Willmer
  • 04-30-19

An Absolute Classic

Gateway is my all time favourite sci fi novel. An incredible concept meticulously executed. Robinette Broadhead is a well rendered, complex character who draws you in. Likewise, his constant banter with Sigfried von Shrink is the stuff of science fiction legend.

5 people found this helpful

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  • B.Watson
  • 10-21-15

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-08-19

Classic scifi

I had not heard of the author before, but what an amazing tale. Written so long ago, but still feels fresh. I also hadn't realised that this was one in a series until halfway through, whilst I am pleased there are more to listern to i was also happy that this one had a clean ending.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Susan W
  • 12-07-20

This was a difficult listen

I had heard so many good things about this book that I had to listen to it - "A Hugo and Nebula award winning masterpiece."

How? Why?

I suppose that back in 1977 this was an absolute ground-breaker, an intellectual examination and critique of one person's fears and failings, but in 2020, it's just... dull.
The novel's subject is a self-absorbed mess, who spends all of his time trying not to do anything because of his fears and insecurities. As another reviewer has said, all he does is whine about his 'situation.'

I wanted to like this book, I really did. The story had a lot of promise.
I kept hoping that all the whining and cowardice would lead up to some amazing conclusion. Whether it be by accident, design, or even (joking here) by him growing a spine, but no... he remains a filleted person to the very end.
There is a small twist, but it really is not worth the wait to get to it.

The prose had promise, it was cleverly done. The story ending however was secondary school level at best.
I am so very disappointed.
I urge you to consider giving this a miss.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 10-18-16

Surprisingly Addictive

Where does Gateway rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is by far the best audio fiction book I have ever listened to.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What does Oliver Wyman and Robert J. Sawyer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • RICHARD REYNOLDS
  • 05-29-18

Average at best

I found this book a slow burn, I was hoping it would be worth it in the end. Mildly entertaining idea, but lacked the awe inspiring themes and ideas of the great Sci-Fi books. You won't miss much if you don't read it!

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 01-10-18

Inactive Protagonist

I don't understand why this book won so many awards? great premise, yes, burt surely once everyone realised the main character is totally incompetent, whiny, boring and inactive, they can't have enjoyed it. the characters have no voice, or personality. you don't care about anyone in the books. the perspective from which the story is told swaps between past and present which is terrible. the idea the sex is so easily available is such a boring unrealistic concept and of all the characters who should be getting laid in thia book, the protagonist should be the last. This book is as bad as The Space Between Stars.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • LENGTHIAN
  • 08-09-22

space neurosis!

70s exploration of Relationships with a space exploration backdrop.
A little sci fi about cosmic prospecting.
The science fiction plays little part in the story as most of it is about the people, their relationships and hang ups.
It's like sharing all the neurotic thoughts of woody Allen without the comedy.
Great world building and well structured story.
Good performance well defined individual characters.
The whole thing is a metaphor for relationships and The gamble you take when going into a relationship blindly not knowing if you hit the jackpot or it will destroy you. But beyond that, it's about the nature of the quality of life and how we perceive that quality.
Seems very of the time because of how the author casually includes sex and and sexual orientation.
85% relationships and neurosis 15% sci fi.
It's thought provoking and I know, for the time, it would have been quite ground breaking. It's still very good though. just a shame there's not more actual plot or story. I can't argue that's is good science fiction though.

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  • Tony
  • 06-15-22

Awesome book. Read many times but now audio.

This is a great book. I have the actual book and have for ma y years. Really enjoyable and intense in places.

I've also just discovered Pohl wrote 3 more in the series so I am extremely pleased as I find finding and choosing audio books a real chore. I hope the narration is as good on the 2nd audio book I just downloaded.


This is an all time classic.

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  • Bronson P Gherardi
  • 03-19-16

They said it was a classic. I agree.

Great book. Reminded me a little of Phillip K Dick. Great story, with a backdrop of exploration, alien tech and flawed human beings dealing with it all. Straight on to book two.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-19-20

A great novel in the vein of PKD

There's a very clear relationship between the themes and style of this book and Phillip K Dick. This book also attends to the science without belabouring the concepts. Most of all, the character is a typical PKD antihero