By Frederik Pohl
Wealth ...or dying. these have been the alternatives Gateway provided. people had came across this man made spaceport, filled with operating interstellar ships left in the back of via the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their locations are preprogrammed. they're effortless to function, yet most unlikely to manage. a few got here again with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots wealthy; others back with their continues to be slightly identifiable. It was once the last word online game of Russian roulette, yet during this resource-starved destiny there has been no scarcity of determined volunteers.
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Extra info for Gateway (Sf Masterworks 09)
Professor Hegramet: Well, think about our own storage methods and how they would have been received in pretechnological times. If we'd given, say, Euclid a book, he could have figured out what it was, even if he couldn't understand what it was saying. But what if we'd given him a tape cassette? He wouldn't have known what to do with it. I have a suspicion, no, a conviction, that we have some Heechee "books" we just don't recognize. A bar of Heechee metal. Maybe that Q-spiral in the ships, the function of which we don't know at all.
How do I know which is the first thing, when they're all boiling around in there together? My father? My mother? Sylvia? Klara? Poor Shicky, trying to balance himself in flight without any legs, flapping around like a barn swallow chasing bugs as he scoops the cobwebby scraps out of Gateway's air? I reach down into my mind for places where I know it hurts, because it has hurt there before. The way I felt when I was seven years old, parading up and down the Rock Park walk in front of the other kids, begging for someone to pay attention to me?
Then somebody found a Heechee map of the solar system. Jupiter was there with its moons, and Mars, and the outer planets, and the Earth-Moon pair. And Venus, which was marked in black on the shining blue surface of the Heechee-metal map. And Mercury, and one other thing, the only other thing marked in black besides Venus: an orbital body that came inside the perihelion of Mercury and outside the orbit of Venus, tipped ninety degrees out of the plane of the ecliptic so that it never came very close to either.