In my last phlog I wrote about reading Rendezvous with Rama.
I also wrote that I was going to read "Gateway" by Frederik
Pohl. I just finished it.
It was incredibly different in tone and style from Rama. So
much more focus on internal/emotional life for the various
The basic concept:
It is the future and humans live on venus and mars. On Venus
much prior to the start of the events of the book artifacts
and tunnels from an alien civilization are found. People,
refered to as tunnel rats, start searching through the
tunnels for things of value. One person finds a ship and
manages to get it to fly. It takes him to an asteroid in our
solar system, but he has no way of returning and blows up
some fuel tanks to try to get attention. He gets some notice
and people come looking. He is dead by the time they arrive.
The asteroid, now known as Gateway, is full of ~800km of
tunnels and close to 1k ships. A multi-world corporation has
sprung up to oversee the development and usage of the ships.
A class of people called prospectors come to Gateway, at
great cost, to ship out to unknown destinations. Humans do
not understand much about how to use the ships. They can
select predefined trips... but they do not know where they
go or how long they will take. They know how to get them
to come back to Gateway once they get to their destination,
if they were able to survive until then (potentially
hundreds of days, or potentially something happens and they
do not make it). About 5% make it back with something of
value and they can retire as millionaires. Many, maybe most,
do not come back at all.
The story follows one such prospector. Most of the novel
takes place on Gateway. The end is, good and devestating in
its way. I really enjoyed the book. I just looked, and there
are a few more that relate to this one. I may read the next
I think the writing of Rama was maybe more pure. Definitely
much more "hard" sci-fi, though this one has its share of
that as well. I liked that this one also has no antagonist.
They were both very good, but very different books and I
recommend both to any sci-fi fans. This one connected more
emotionally and the other more intellectually. Both have
plots that will pique your curiosity and have you really
wanting answers. In both you will get some, but never quite