I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The story begins when the hero of Gateway finances an expedition to a distant alien spaceship that may end famine forever. On the ship, the explorers find a human boy, and evidence that reveals a powerful alien civilization is thriving on a transport ship headed right for Earth…
Beyond the blue horizon
Waits a beautiful day.
Goodbye to things that bore me.
Joy is waiting for me.
I see a new horizon.
My life has only begun.
Beyond the blue horizon lies a rising sun.
(Beyond the Blue Horizon, Jeanette MacDonald)
I wonder if Frederick Pohl had these song lyrics in mind with the title of this book? Or whether he had any say in the title at all, a clever combination of the song title and the event horizon of a black hole, a consuming preoccupation of Robin Broadhead, the main protagonist.
I found myself fully engaged in this novel from the first few pages—trying to figure out what the heck was going on. I find that authors who engage my curiosity, rather than telling me too much, keep me reading more quickly and with more persistence. I really enjoyed the vagueness of the threat which Pohl used to keep the reader hooked—not knowing exactly which details are significant or what exactly they mean. Who are the Dead Men? Are they really dead and if so, how do they carry on conversations? Who or what are the Old Ones? Are they really a threat to our intrepid explorers?
Of course, all of this is layered on top of the basic questions asked in the first novel, Gateway—who or what are the Heechee, where did they go, and can we expect to find them?
There is rather a lot of theoretical physics discussed, in the guise of having a computer program explain it to Robin, our billionaire protagonist. Those sections drag a little bit, being barely disguised info dumps. Despite those chunky bits, this book carried me along very quickly.
My only disappointment was how quickly things resolved in the final chapters—details that I would have liked to know were glossed over, steps were skipped in my opinion, some things tied up a little too neatly, others seemed neglected. I guess Pohl must have had a third book in mind and needed a platform on which to begin the next installment. I have many questions about what went on and where the characters go from here, so undoubtedly I will carry on to the next book in the series.