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THP Supplemental: The Gateway Trip Forever

28 Apr

Well, ducklings, I made it. I have now read all the Gatewaybooks in existence. Actually, these last two were much more enjoyable and much less rage-inducing than the sequilogy or the original. Let’s bring the Gateway edition of The Hugo Project home!

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The Gateway Trip
The Boy Who Would Live Forever

Frederik Pohl
published in 1990 and 2004

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Warning! Spoilers ahead!

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I’m going to keep this brief, as I’m exhausted (and enraged on behalf of a good friend, which is additionally exhausting) and want to watch an episode of Enterprise to unwind before bed. A girl’s gotta have her priorities. Maybe this episode will feature the fanservice box decontamination chamber…

Anyway. I read The Boy Who Would Live Forever first. It was decent enough, perhaps as a result of being written ten years ago instead of thirty-five; it has less of that “white-dude-from-the-70s” clunky perspective that I always find so alienating. We got some chapters from Klara’s perspective, which would have had me jumping for joy except Pohl is not so great at writing women. Whatever. I am in love with Hypatia, her ship-mind (also in love with the historical Hypatia, so this is perhaps not too surprising). We even got a chapter from the POV of a woman of color! (Grace). Stan, the putative protagonist, is also a man of color, although he’s white-passing and doesn’t seem too big on his Turkish ancestry. There are a lot of POC, actually, and a lot of women, some of whom even manage to escape becoming sexual objects (though of course their attractiveness or lack thereof has to be commented upon). I have mixed feelings about the character of Estrella, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive.

There’s lots more cool science (and, actually, a little A/N where Pohl mentions how some of his original ideas have since been disproved) and it’s nice to get to see some of the events of the first 4 books from another lens – with the help of time dilation, used to great effect in this novel. It’s also nice to see more of Heechee culture as it develops. Sadly we have to put up with the reappearance of Wan (ugh), but he’s dealt with handily enough. And Robinette Broadhead is only mentioned once or twice in passing, hooray!

The Gateway Trip is actually quite fun – it’s kind of “a brief history of humanity’s obsession with the Heechee” with the novella The Merchants of Venus stuck in the middle. (Merchants was actually the first book to feature the Heechee (or rather their artifacts), published in 1972). And, again, no Robinette!

Both books were decent, and fun in places. It’s a shame that they probably only work once you’ve read the other four. Well, you could read The Gateway Trip on its own but it might be less interesting. But if you’re determined to read all the Gateway books, consider these two your reward for surviving the first four.

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After all of this, I deserve a break. Even if I don’t deserve it, I’m taking one – join me in two weeks for Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake!

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Posted by on 28.4.2014 in Books

 

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