The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

These novels tell the story of human discovery of Heechee artifacts, eventual encounters with the mysterious Heechee, and subsequent encounters with a hostile race called the Assassins. When humans first explore the solar system, they discover an asteroid filled with tunnels that contain abandoned Heechee spacecraft, providing a gateway to the galaxy. Soon, the Gateway corporation trains prospectors in what little is known about the Heechee ships, then encourages them to ship out to random destinations in search of Heechee artifacts.

Because some of these artifacts provide valuable technological or scientific breakthroughs, the potential payoff to these missions is enormous. Many prospectors die on their missions and others do not return, but a lucky few discover Heechee artifacts or observe stellar phenomena and are richly rewarded.

In Gateway, Robinette Broadhead wins a lottery from the food mines on Earth and uses the money for a one-way ticket to Gateway. His first trips out are unsuccessful, and he watches many ships return with dead or dying crews. On his third trip, a black hole traps his ship and its companion. He escapes but leaves his lover, Gelle-Klara Moynlin, trapped in the event horizon. He returns to reap a fabulous science bonus.

In Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, some of the mysteries of the Heechee are resolved. Broadhead is now rich and happily married, but he still longs to see Klara. The plot centers on his recovery of two large Heechee artifacts, including a “food factory” that converts the basic elements of comets into food. These artifacts were inhabited by a feral boy named Wan, who had been born to a pregnant prospector who...

(The entire section is 697 words.)