I played the graphical text adventure game, "Frederik Pohl's Gateway" many years ago (and again, many times since), and I decided I should read the novel Gateway on which it was (loosely) based. I found that it is a single novel in a series of novels and short stories, and so I am curious as to what order the stories should be read in. Specifically, I want to know where the collection of short stories, "The Gateway Trip: Tales and Vignettes of the Heechee" should be read, and if the stories in that collection should be read strictly in order as published or in a different order, possibly even interspersed between the novels.
The passages in The Gateway Trip mostly provide details and diversions that are not particularly relevant to the novel series. Some parts of The Gateway Trip stand on their own as short stories about the many researchers, explorers, prospectors, and traders who were involved in the history of the Gateway asteroid, but others are more like history lessons, illuminating deep background information about the Heechee and about the universe in which these books take place.
As Publisher's Weekly said,
Although Pohl is careful not to give away plot elements of those books, at the same time he presents new details to enhance that universe for familiar readers. Still, it would be preferable to read the novels first.
I definitely think the more historically-focused pieces in The Gateway Trip will be a bit confusing - or maybe just seem pointless? - if you haven't read the novels yet. If you'd really like to read the pieces that stand alone first, it wouldn't be too hard to compile a list of them - certainly, a few of them would bring you some knowledge that Robin Broadhead had at the start of Gateway. But I think that knowledge is conveyed well in the novel itself. In fact, I'd say that the world and its people are depicted so well in Gateway that you should read the novel first even if you do wish to read The Merchants of Venus and its accompanying stories immediately afterwards, before proceeding with the novel's sequels.
Read the 5 novels in order first:
- Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
- Heechee Rendezvous
- The Annals of the Heechee
- The Boy Who Would Live Forever
Then The Gateway Trip: Tales and Vignettes of the Heechee. The novels form your impression, view and comprehension of Pohl's universe. The short stories fill in the blanks, which you won't appreciate unless you get the hang of the universe first.