Review: Gateways

Posted: November 9, 2011 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Elizabeth Anne Hull (Ed), Science Fiction, Anthology, Short Fiction

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything quite like GATEWAYS (Amazon). On the outside it looks like any regular old collection of short stories and novellas. Sometimes those collections have a central premise or theme, and this one certainly does. But it’s the premise and how it’s put together that really got to me. The premise is “Isn’t Frederick Pohl awesome? Let’s have a book to celebrate him.”

I’ll admit that before I read this book I knew little of Frederik Pohl. I’ve read through almost all of the Hugo winning novels and came across Gateway (the book from which the title of this collection is based). It was one of the rare old Hugo winners that really knocked my socks off. It didn’t feel dated, it still stood out as an exceptional book. Based on that I picked up a few more of Pohl’s Gateway books. I wish I could say that they were as good, but sadly they didn’t capture the magic the original did. Reading online I am not alone in that opinion.

But that’s it. That’s all I knew about Frederik Pohl. I opened this collection thinking that maybe all of the stories would be set in Pohl’s gateway universe, (I still think that’s a cool idea by the way. Somebody get on it.) Instead I found that the stories were written to the intent of capturing the spirit of Frederik Pohl and his work.

To my surprise the thing I found most fascinating about the books were the dedications at the end of each story. After each novella or story, that particular author would write his own thoughts on Pohl. They ranged from years of shared experiences and lifetime friendships, to simple crossing of paths. Some of the names on the cover didn’t even write stories for the anthology, but rather they just wrote out their thoughts and feelings about Pohl.

It was fascinating for me to read through those dedications and see a story unfold. The story of modern SF as we know it. To see and hear accounts of Pohl as a writer and editor and even agent and see how it affected the authors in the book (most of whom I read regularly) and Science Fiction in general was amazing. The characters in their respective stories were interesting, but nothing compared to the character of Frederick Pohl, the man who helped shape Science Fiction.

A tribute to Frederick Pohl, GATEWAYS is an anthology of great stories dedicated to the inspiration gifted to other writers by this great author.

I’m not going to spend a bunch of time dwelling on the stories in GATEWAYS. The stories are there and they are for the most part very good. They range from short to long, comical to poignant and everything in between. But they are not the focus, nor should they be. The focus is throughout the book a simple heart felt dedication to this man who helped inspire, and shape a generation of SF writers and readers.

As tributes go, I can’t think of anything better.

  • Recommended Age: 14+, Depends on the story. I can’t remember anything too harsh however.
  • Language: A scattering of words depending on the author
  • Violence: Nothing too bad
  • Sex: Referenced a few times. Never shown.

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