Frederik Pohl's "dread-coated" ​Gateway to get a TV series adapatation

Illustration for article titled Frederik Pohl's "dread-coated" ​Gateway to get a TV series adapatation

Set in a dystopian wreck of a future, Gateway follows one man on a get-rich-or-die-trying mission to an unknown location, with unknown results, on an alien ship with a crap return rate. It's a menacing tale, and now it's going to be a TV series. A dark, dark TV series.

Deadline is reporting that Entertainment One Television (Bitten, Walking Dead, Haven) and De Laurentiis Co.(Hannibal) are working together to develop and produce a drama adaptation of this work.

To describe this classic, we default to Josh Wimmer who wrote a wonderful review of this Hugo Award-winning novel.


Gateway, though, just — teems isn't the right word, because when dread starts teeming, it pretty much stops being dread. Better to say the novel is coated in dread: even in the scenes that aren't set on the unsettling alien space station from which it takes its name, you can smell the feeling. And most of those scenes take place years in the story's future, in the safe, comfortable office of a friendly robot psychologist the protagonist is voluntarily seeing.

Said protagonist is Robinette — or Bob — Broadhead, who was born poor on an Earth that's slogging its way toward a whimper, rather than a bang. It's overpopulated, and a big chunk of the world's food comes from slimy bacteria grown on shale mined in less-than-ideal conditions. Jobs are hard to come by, and though medical technology has made some great strides, it's only available to the wealthiest people. Formerly a food miner, Bob is now one of those wealthy people, living in Manhattan (which is a controlled environment sealed under a big bubble).

He got rich by going to Gateway, a space station formerly inhabited by an ancient, mysterious alien race humans have dubbed the Heechee. Here is what we know about the Heechee: almost nothing. We've found a few of their artifacts and deciphered some of their technology, but we're not sure what they look like, what their culture was like, or what happened to them.

Gateway is a rock about ten kilometers wide at its longest point, honeycombed with tunnels and riddled on the outside with bumps and holes. The bumps are the hulls of Heechee ships. The holes are where Heechee ships used to be. Human scientists have figured out how to make the ships run — sort of. Other humans, usually poor ones, spend their life savings to become prospectors, and fly Heechee ships out of Gateway on preset courses to they-know-not-where, hoping to strike it rich finding traces of the alien civilization.

About a third of the ships come back. And the people inside aren't always alive when they do.

Read the rest of the breakdown here. We are all very excited to see this premise launch, plus thank goodness for more shows with spaceships.

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Geoff Sebesta

I love these books so much, but modern technology will play havok with the plot. Consider; webcams. Why go through all the time and effort to put humans and life support on these ships? You can send them out packed to the gills with webcams and a little timer that squeezes the go-bulb and brings them back.

The screenwriters may be able to lampshade this by saying the ship only goes when "life force readings are on board," but this messes with the technology and the mythology like nobody's business. By the end of the four Heechee books we know exactly how the ships work, and they would actually work better with robot crews. There's no nonsense about "life force readings" in the Heechee canon, the ships go if you squeeze the bulb and that's all there is to it. They're entirely mechanical devices. Adding something on top about the ships only working with a living creature on board makes no sense from any direction.