Review of Gateway (1977)


Frederik Pohl (writer).

Read in 2017.

Good worldbuilding. Although I enjoyed the Hamlet-like focus on the protagonist’s fear and hesitation where a dime novel would go straight for action, I did not empathize with Robinette. He isn’t evidently religious and it is irrational for him to fear an unpredictable death that is likely to be quick and painless. In the same way, while his survivor’s guilt makes perfect sense, it shouldn’t actually matter to him that Klara is “still” going through their traumatic parting. Time passing more slowly for her in his frame of reference is obviously not going to make her experience worse. Even the climactic scene, which Sigfrid notes is a confluence of Robinette’s major psychological stressors (mother figure, homosexual tension, the disturbed relationship with Klara), is gripping only on an intellectual level. The homosexual angle has not aged well, connecting the desire for anal sex to a childhood memory of an anal thermometer. Sigfrid is mostly very well written as an efficacious version of Weizenbaum’s ELIZA and DOCTOR, but its “envy” in the concluding scene tarnishes the overall impression. I gather that the many sequels keep doing similar damage.

References here: GM backlog, “Tin Man” (1990), Demolition Man (1993), Interstellar (2014).

text fiction