Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (Heechee)
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Frederik Pohl was on a streak when this Hugo Award–finalist novel was published in 1980. Now back in print after an absence of nearly a decade, this unique science fiction novel is as fresh and entertaining as ever.
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….
“Essie,” I said, “I’ve been thinking.” “Know that, dear Robin,” she said. “About the Oldest One. The machine.” “Oh, really?” She pulled her feet up to get them off the grass, damp from vagrant drifts from the fountain. “Very fine machine,” she said. “Quite tame, since you pulled its teeth. Provided is not given external effectors, or mobility, or access to control circuits of any kind—yes, quite tame.” “What I want to know,” I said, “is whether you could build one like it for a human being.”
“do you know what that suggests to me?” “Sure thing, Robin,” he said solemnly. “It suggests that the Food Factory is still in operation. That it is converting the cometary gases to CHON-food. And sending them somewhere.” I swallowed hard, but Albert was still talking. “Also,” he said, “there is quite a lot of ionizing radiation in the environment. I have to admit I don’t know where it comes from.” “Is that dangerous to the Herter-Halls?” “No, Robin, I would say not. No more than, say,
maddening to be forced to wait! To wait fifty days for an answer from Earth to his perfectly reasonable proposals and questions. To wait almost as long for his family and that hooligan boy to get to where they were going (if they ever did) and report to him (if they should happen to choose to). Waiting was not so bad if one had enough of a life left to wait in. But how much, realistically, had he? Suppose he had a stroke. Suppose he developed a cancer. Suppose any part of the complicated
chewing, just listened, and then when he had nothing more to chew he took a sip from his demitasse and said, “We really don’t have anything to discuss, Mr. Broadhead.” “Of course we do!” “Not unless we both think so,” he pointed out, “and I don’t. You’re a little mistaken in some of the things you say. I don’t have an injunction any more. I have a judgment.” “Which I can get reversed in a hot—” “Yes, maybe you can. But not in a hot anything. The law will take its course, and it will take
the girls stop. Why? For childbearing. For marriage. For heaven knows what. We will not let it happen to you, small dove. Study! Read! Learn! Comprehend! Every day, for as many hours as you must! And I will assist you in all the ways I can.” And he did; and from the ages of eight to eighteen young Semya Yagrodna Lavorovna came home from school every day, deposited one book bag in their apartment and picked up another, and trotted away to the old yellow building off the Nevsky Prospekt where her