Creator/FrederikPohl's most famous ScienceFiction creation, the Heechee Saga (beginning with a short story, The Merchants of Venus, though most people know it through the 1976 novel ''Gateway'') details humanity's discovery of the Heechee, a [[{{Precursors}} long-vanished race of advanced aliens]]. More particularly, humanity's discovery of Gateway, a large asteroid base filled with Heechee tunnels and covered in long-abandoned faster-than-light starships.

''Gateway'', the first novel in the series, is widely recognized as a classic of the genre, and a perfect example of New Wave science fiction besides.

Robinette Broadhead (who is, [[TomboyishName in spite of his name]], male) is very rich, and very troubled. In between his therapy sessions with the robot psychiatrist he's nicknamed Sigfrid Von Shrink, he tells the story of his time on the titular asteroid Gateway, where he eventually made his fortune.

''Gateway'' is largely a DeConstruction of ImportedAlienPhlebotinum. Only some of the thousand-odd starships left by the Heechee work, and nobody knows exactly how. Programming in a new destination consists of twiddling twelve wheels until something glows pink, and [[UnusualUserInterface squeezing the go-teat]]. The ship will go ''somewhere'', but there's no telling where, or how long it will take, until the ship starts decelerating, meaning you damn well better have enough supplies to last the trip. If you haven't reached the midway point of the outbound voyage by the time a quarter of your food is gone, you draw straws... loser goes into the fridge. Some ships that went out with 5 people got back with one. Whatever happens when somebody tries to change course mid-flight, none of the ships that tried have ever come back. The MegaCorp in charge of Gateway offers a relatively small bonus for discovering an inhabitable planet, in spite of the fact that Earth is a CrapsackWorld where people have to mine oil for food, since the biggest starships in Gateway can only carry five people, and somebody has to bring the ship back. Experiments to get ships to carry more people have not ended well.

In the early 1990's, Legend Entertainment published two [[{{VideoGame/Gateway}} videogames]] based on the Heechee saga.

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!!''Gateway'' provides examples of:

* BiTheWay - Metchnikov. Robinette.
* BoldExplorer: Most of the inhabitants of Gateway Asteroid were this, although some were there out of pure desperation. Still, it takes more than a little chutzpah to climb into an ancient alien craft, set the controls at random, and push go. Especially when you have no idea how long the voyage will take, and thus how much food and water you should bring.
* DeathWorld - most of the planets found by prospectors.
* FreudianExcuse - most of the story
* FutureFoodIsArtificial - Most foodstuffs are made from algae and bacterial cultures grown on oil.
* HumanResources - Full Medical.
* ImportedAlienPhlebotinum - Deconstructed with the starships, though other Heechee artifacts are reverse-engineered successfully.
* MegaCorp - The Gateway Corporation, which takes 50% of the initial profits from any particular discovery, and 90% of the royalties.
* NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup - Heechee technology, especially in ''The Gateway''.
* PortalNetwork - Since everybody uses pre-set coordinates in the ships, they function in a relatively similar way.
* ResearchInc: the Gateway Corporation
* RobotBuddy - Sigfrid Von Shrink, though Robinette doesn't exactly like him.
* StraightGay - The three other men in Robinette's first mission.
* TechnologyMarchesOn - Cassette tapes, everywhere.
* TomboyishName - Robinette Broadhead

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!! Other stories in the Heechee Saga provide examples of:

* BrainUploading
* HiddenElfVillage
* PrecursorKillers
* VirtualGhost

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