(Note: This review was originally written in 2006.)
I'm moving on through some of the classic science fiction novels, and Gateway came recommended to me through other threads I've posted. I had never been much interested in Pohl before, even though I remember seeing his name when I was younger. His stuff just never intrigued me (it could have been those stereotypical pulp covers, though).
I'm struggling with the book, though. I've finished it, but there's a part of me that's wondering if the book is missing a couple of chapters at the end. Everything seemed to wrap up (so to speak) so quickly, and, in a way, incompletely, that I felt like I had missed the denouement of the story. I feel like there was some significance in the relationship between Bob and Sigfried; what was it? I feel like there was something more to his guilt over the deaths of the other members of the crew of his last journey; what was it? I feel like the issue of Bob's sexuality was unresolved, even though he covered that with Sigfried; why?
I think I liked the book. It reads quickly, and Pohl has an easy writing style that kept me reading, chapter after chapter. On the one hand, it was technical, but not so much that it overwhelmed the story. In fact, the way that Pohl used the Heechee, and the humans' ignorance of a lot of what things were and how things worked, was advantageous to the story remanining non-technical. I think had he revealed more of the science behind his fiction, it would have been dryer, and less interesting.
On the other hand, I thought that Pohl's style was a light and breezy, much like Heinlein was with Stranger in a Strange Land. It fits, since the novel is narrated by Bob, and since he and his entourage engaged in nothing but sex, drinking, and gambling while at Gateway, but it also became a bit annoying, because it seemed so immature. For the adventurers, it was all about the money, despite the risks and intellectual rewards of what they found. Were we supposed to sympathize with Bob? It was hard to, especially after he beat up his girlfriend halfway into the book.
I guess my hesitancy relates to the ending, and what was taking place between Bob and Sigfried. What am I missing?