Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hugo Winner Book Review: Gateway by Frederik Pohl

This novel won the Hugo award for best novel of 1978.

I enjoyed it, finding it an eclectic mix of science fiction themes with interesting characters and a very imaginative premise. It later became part of a series of novels and stories around a similar theme: the mysterious alien Heechee race.

The novel makes use of an interesting device in that many pages contain standalone text for signs, legal documents, classified ads, and even some kind of BASIC-like computer programming.

Pohl was a life-long friend of Isaac Asimov, and even acted as his literary agent for a period of time. The book has some references to a "Dr Asmenion" who was an expert on explaining science and astronomy and likes to tell off-colour jokes and was apparently from somewhere near Smolensk, Russia. This is clearly a little jab at Asimov. Another letter is written by a "Harry Hellison" that sounds suspiciously like science fiction writer Larry Ellison.

Pohl had a long career as a science fiction writer and editor, active right up to the time of his death in 2013 at age 93, but this was his only Hugo award winning novel (he did won some more Hugos in other categories).

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