Gateway - Frederick Pohl

Another 'sci-fi classic'. It's from '76, and gosh does it feel it. The setting is an overpopulated, resource-starved world, and there's that 70s feeling to the sex and drugs. There are the experimental snippets of random documents from the world of the story - not so much directly relevant as scene-setting - interspersed with the text. A bit Brunner-y, perhaps.

The main plot centres on Gateway, an asteroid fitted out as a space-port by a long-departed race. Crews risk their lives piloting the ships they don't really understand, in an attempt to seek out new technology (for which they receive a percentage of the royalties). The story is made of interleaving chapters, covering Robinette's financial success story both as it happens and retrospectively in his computerised psychotherapy sessions, culminating in the dark secret behind his millions. To be honest, I found the psychological elements pretty weak, and the ending pretty unrewarding.

The concept and world-building, however, are rather more successful, if you're looking for 70s-style dystopia. All-in-all, it feels as if it would work rather better as a short story. In fact, I think William Gibson's 'Hinterlands' is that better short story, and is incredibly spooky to boot.

Posted 2007-01-21.