Outside the Moon are found tiny ships left by an alien race. volunteers get in them and press a button which cause the ship to "warp" to a distant location in the galaxy, then push another button to return. I believe they get a share of what they find. Sort of like Stargate with space ships

  • Could it be Frederik Pohl's Heechee series?
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:17
  • @user14111 - My thoughts exactly.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:18
  • That's close, I'm old now so its hard to remember. all I remember is that there were just these ships and they only went out and back. I remember it as a little dull and I don't remember them ever finding the alien race. I did read a lot of Pohl back in the day so this might be it
    – Hetkey
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:22
  • So, if there are no aliens at all, then it would be Gateway (the first novel in the series), but I'm having a hard time fathoming anyone finding the book dull. I just can't put that adjective into the same frame as the book which I would describe with words like "riveting", "fascinating" and "slightly disturbing". Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 1:48
  • 1
    possible duplicate of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/7346/…
    – Otis
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


This is the Heechee series of novels by Frederik Pohl. You're probably describing the first in the series; Gateway

In the main part of the series, the frontier has moved away from Venus after explorers discovered an asteroid orbiting perpendicular to the ecliptic plane, filled with cobalt blue tunnels, and hundreds of small Heechee spaceships. The asteroid, named Gateway by the discoverers, is occupied by the powerful nations of the world, who subsequently form the Gateway Corporation to administer the object.

By happenstance, one of the asteroid explorers enters a ship and hits a button, activating the vehicle and sending him on a thirty-day journey to another solar system. Upon his return, the Gateway Corporation decides to allow explorers (called Prospectors) to take trips on the mostly still-functioning ships. Prospectors who find valuable materials or make discoveries are rewarded with substantial bonuses. Ships on the asteroids come in three sizes and are defined as a "one", "three", or "five" based upon the number of passengers that they can (for the most part uncomfortably) carry. Not every vehicle returns and there are other great hazards to the explorers.

  • Started to answer the same, you beat me to it. Damn you, work!
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:18
  • @Politank-Z - gotta be quick :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 23:19

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