There were at least two books for sure. I don't remember the author or the publishing year, but they were from the 20th century. The setting was in the somewhat distant future and the story followed two timelines:

The first one was when the main character, who was wildly rich, was in the office of a robot psychiatric counselor that was named after Sigmund Freud. They were trying to find out where the main character's depression came from. I remember the lots of complaining about how annoying the robot was and mildly rude remarks from time to time.

The second timeline was when the main character was young (~25 years old, I think). He had worked most of his life in oil mines (they made butter or something out of it). After winning the lottery he bought a couple of rounds at the pub and took the first shuttle to an alien space station that orbited Earth. There all major nations had sent all kinds of scientists and military forces under one global corporation.

The station had something like 1% Earth's gravity and was filled with 1, 3 and 5 seat alien ships, that people couldn't control a lot. Every ship had a predetermined destination that was locked in the nav computer, which people didn't understand. Everyone had a chance to go to the station and become an explorer (provided they could afford the shuttle ticket).

The point to it all was to see where the ships went, land with a lander module that was attached to the ships, scavenge for any remains of the alien civilization and bring them back to the station, where it was sold to labs on Earth to be studied. The corporation took a huge cut of every artifact sold, and it was illegal to sell it yourself.

After he finished the 1-2 week training program, the main character fell in love (kind of) with a girl on the station, that had experience (bracelets on the hand for every flight). He got a job as a grounds keeper, because he was scared of his first flight being a fatal failure. She was also scared to fail and had a job as a babysitter.

After some time and arguing with the girl, they decided to board a 5 seat ship, which they had to share with 2 or 3 gays. They took turns using the lander module to have some privacy during the flight (the ships didn't have a lot of room).

  • This has been answered, but did you mean “gay people” or “guys”? – Adamant Oct 14 '17 at 8:52

Mostly you seem to be describing Gateway by Frederik Pohl, part of the Heechee series consisting of five books. Gateway is both a Hugo and Nebula Award Winner and a popular ID question on this site, having been asked previously here.

From the Wikipedia description we can see many of the elements you remember:

There are nearly a thousand small, abandoned starships at Gateway. By extremely dangerous trial and error, humans learn how to operate the ships. The controls for selecting a destination have been identified, but nobody knows where a particular setting will take the ship or how long the trip will last; starvation is a danger. Attempts at reverse engineering to find out how they work have ended only in disaster, as has changing the settings in mid-flight. Most settings lead to useless or lethal places. A few, however, result in the discovery of Heechee artifacts and habitable planets, making the passengers (and the Gateway Corporation) wealthy. The vessels come in three standard sizes, which can hold a maximum of one, three, or five people, filled with equipment and hopefully enough food for the trip. Some "threes" and many "fives" are armored. Each ship includes a lander to visit a planet or other object if one is found.


once back on Earth as a wealthy man he seeks therapy from an artificial intelligence Freudian therapist program which he names Sigfrid von Shrink.

The entire series consists of:

Gateway (St. Martins, 1977)

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (Del Rey, 1980)

Heechee Rendezvous (Del Rey, 1984)

The Annals of the Heechee (Del Rey, 1987)

The Boy Who Would Live Forever: A Novel of Gateway (Tor Books, 2004)

  • That's the one, thanks a lot. I've been trying to remember the name of the books for 8 years. – Sunchasing Aug 29 '17 at 21:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.