Gateway – Book Review

A critical review of Gateway, by Frederik Pohl.

Gateway review

Gateway is a social critique that delves straight into the human psyche. It was written by Frederik Pohl and released in 1977.

Gateway – A Synopsis

Gateway takes place in a bleak version of humanity’s future. The majority of the Earth is disfigured by human activity. The rich have almost perfect health due to expensive healthcare, but the poor live short brutish lives in mines.

Far above this divided Earth hangs Gateway. A space station built into an asteroid and filled with working ships. The space station and ships having been abandoned by an advanced race called the Heechee. The novel is told through one of the prospectors who did manage to strike it rich:  Robinette Broadhead. Male, despite his name, Robinette is one of the great characters in fiction.

Robinette Broadbent – A Guilt Ridden Protagonist

Robinette is actually a thoroughly unlikable character. It’s his guilt that makes him compelling. Robinette rarely directly mentions or acknowledges this guilt. Rather it is either implied through Robinette’s actions. Throughout Gateway Robinette tries to hide from his feelings of shame and inadequacy. Yet the reader is able to see them inside him like a black hole. This human tension at the heart of this science fiction novel is a key aspect of its success.

Though the mystery of the Heechee and of Gateway holds the reader’s attention, the plot is driven by our need to understand what it is Robinette is hiding from. The reader will reach the end of the book as terrified of facing up to the truth as Robinette is but, like Robinette, will keep going to the bitter end.

Gateway Station – Russian Roulette in Space

The problem with these Heechee ships is that the destinations are unknown and the directions unalterable. This means there is a There is a brutal perfection to the world Pohl has created that every fan of science fiction will appreciate. So read and enrich your life. good chance a journey will end with a colorful death. Only the poor are desperate enough to want to gamble their lives for a slim chance of receiving wealth. The desperation lingers throughout the novel as it would on a space station like Gateway. Again, this makes Gateway an intense read that’s not for the fainthearted. It is, however, well worth it.


If you liked review you should probably check out the rest of our classic science fiction reviews. If Gateway sounds like something you would like, I’d also check out Odd John.

Gateway by Pohl
  • Gateway Review

Why you should read Gateway

There is a brutal perfection to the world Pohl has created that every fan of science fiction will appreciate. So read and enrich your life.

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