Author: Frederick Pohl
Plot: A guy living next to some mines on a depressing near future Earth wins the lottery and uses his cash to fly up to an ancient alien asteroid space station called Gateway. His choice: to fly one of the thousand or so ships left behind by the long dead aliens to god knows where and potentially make a lot of cash or stay still for a few weeks, drink, fuck, gamble, and then go back to the mines.
Or fly one of the ships into a star going supernova and die like whats-his-face in disney’s the black hole i.e. differently.
Subplot: A robot psychologist tries to get the main character to realise that he’s a bit of a twat.
Subplot 2: A female instructor on Gateway falls in love with the main character because his first name is ‘Main’. She later regrets it when he beats her for no reason, but is forced back into his arms by a mysterious god like entity called ‘Pohl’ who commands her to ‘close the narrative’.
Subplot 3: A Black Hole sucks as hard as it can to pull in that spaceship cos it’s lonely and sad and has been marginalised by the Tories.
I’m torn between writing about Gateway and the Foundation books, but I’m also torn a third way as what I really wanna get back to is Babel-17, mostly because it’s all to do with language and the workings of it and specifically an alien language so weird and unfamiliar that no one can understand it, which is similar to Darmok and the Children of Tama in Star Trek TNG, but Delaney wrote his one first and I’ve read the first 40 or so pages of Babel and it seemed okay, but it didn’t reel me in enough, the writing wasn’t as strong or brilliant as other people said, but then it usually takes me a while to get into a book, the first page is always tedious, too descriptive, bland word choice etc.
Gateway had the same effect, took me two years to get past the first chapter even though it was quite well-written…
I think the main problem was the same problem that most old sci-fi had: the characters were too sharp and too smart.
Goddamn it, Siegfried and other lines like this and
there’s swearing later too, which I didn’t expect from someone like Pohl, but then
what can I expect when I know nothing about him? Continue reading