It speaks to an author’s reputation when a rather massive short story collection is compiled solely to honor his work. Such is the case of Gateways, a gathering of fiction and personal essays dedicated to science fiction author Frederik Pohl.
Here’s just a bit about Pohl, to give readers an idea of what he’s contributed to the science fiction field:
Frederik Pohl has been about everything that it is possible to be in the field of science fiction, from consecrated fan and struggling poet to critic, literary agent, teacher, book and magazine editor and, above all, writer.
Called by Kingsley Amis (in Amis’s critical study of science fiction, New Maps of Hell) “the most consistently able writer science fiction, in its modern form, has yet produced,” Frederik Pohl is clearly in the very first rank of writers in the field. He has won most of the awards the science-fiction field has to offer, including the Edward E. Smith and Donald A. Wollheim memorial awards, the International John W. Campbell award (twice), the French Prix Apollo, the Yugoslavian Vizija, the Nebula (three times, including the “Grand Master” Nebula for lifetime contributions to the field) and the Hugo (six times, he is the only person ever to have won the Hugo both as writer and as editor), as well as such awards from sources outside the science-fiction community as the American Book Award, the annual award of the Popular Culture Association, and the United Nations Society of Writers Award. Other honors include election as a Fellow to both the British Interplanetary Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
With all that in mind, how does Gateways stand up to honoring this giant of science fiction? Overall, it’s a solid anthology that many science fiction fans will greatly enjoy. As with any short story collection, there are sure to be a few entries that fall a bit short of the rest. However, with pieces by Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Greg Bear, Ben Bova, and many other speculative fiction notables, you’ll be sure to be drawn in and entertained, whatever your reading tastes.
The first entry itself, Shoresteading, by David Brin, is a fascinating piece in a post-apocalyptic world, about a reclamation agent who discovers what might be a world-changing alien artifact. Then there’s Neil Gaiman’s poem, The [Backspace] Merchants, which takes our horror of spam advertisement to new heights. And don’t skip the hilarious On Sarari, by Mike Resnick, which tells of the hapless interplanetary toursts who just want to see a few wild animals, but get stuck with a very particular guide…
The stories are also bookended by author essays about Frederik Pohl, where they recall the impact he has had on their lives and writing careers. These portions are just as fun and intriguing as the fiction. They provide peeks behind the scenes of decade-long relationships, both personal and business, and show Pohl’s incredible range of talent and influence.
Just as Pohl’s career and writing span the years, so Gateways takes you through countless worlds and perspectives, leaving you broadened by the journey.