Gateway Trip is purportedly a collection of
short stories subtitled Tales
and Vignettes of the Heechee.
But that's pretty much bullshit.
This book would be more accurately titled A Child's History of Gateway.
Only the last eight pages deal directly with the Heechee to any
meaningful degree, while most of the rest of the book is largely a
recapitulation of the Future History which is already thoroughly
explained in the other Gateway books. This blatant regurgitation of
exposition is occasionally studded with short segues describing the
missions of various Gateway prospectors, but these are passionless,
short (averaging perhaps 5 paragraphs), and read like the informational
placards at a rather bland museum.
(I would have dearly loved to
have either: (a) A true collection of stories focusing entirely on the
Heechee; or (b) a collection of short stories focusing on various
Gateway-based prospectors. Sadly this book is neither. It's a
completely wasted opportunity.)
The only exception to this
pointless pablum is "The Merchants of Venus", a novella originally
published in 1972 which serves as a prequel of sorts for Gateway.
I found "The Merchants of Venus" to be a very entertaining yarn of
Campbellian science fiction. The occasional tinge of sexism by
of golden age SF is cringe-worthy, but beyond that the three main
characters are well-drawn; the milieu is evocative; and the hard
fiction is used dramatically (rather than self-indulgently).
In short, if you can find a copy for a couple of
bucks, The Gateway Trip
is worth it just to have a copy of "The
Merchants of Venus" (particularly if you enjoyed Gateway
and want to find the only other taste of the universe that's worth
paying any attention to). But it's probably best if you just skip the
rest of it.
of Venus gets a B-.)