The Internet seems to be in disagreement: some reviewers of Frederik Pohl's Gateway blame Rob for pushing the button and killing the other nine people. Others say it was an accident (or should I call that luck?). And Rob's doing the same when recalling the events of that trip. One minute he is talking about the dread of his sacrifice, the other he's confusingly blabbering about saving himself and leaving his crewmates stuck in time. You could say - nah, it's just survivor's guilt talking. But then again, Rob was depicted as a rather flawed protagonist, not the hero kind.

Did Frederik Pohl actually leave that question unanswered? Or where there indications in the book that would make one of the conclusions more likely?


1 Answer 1


The determining factor regarding which ship would be kicked away from the black hole was the vector of thrust. Danny A. was heard by Broadhead shouting "No! No! Wait..." Either he was yelling for them to wait for Broadhead to cross to their ship or he was yelling for them not to blow the tanks yet because an attitude adjustment was needed first so that they escaped the hole. Since Broadhead was kicked free and the rest of the crew went further into the hole's ergosphere, an attitude adjustment must have been needed. But trapped as he was behind baggage and gear, Broadhead had no way of knowing the current thrust vector was favorable for his own escape. So even if he was the one who blew the tanks early, it was a desperate act of a man who knew the team had run out of time, not the act of man sacrificing nine others to save himself.

  • Indeed, Rob couldn't have known the outcome of his pushing that button, and I suppose that vindicates him to some extent. At the end of the day, however, it's all about his intentions, and Rob was clearly unsure about that himself.
    – user20383
    Jan 24, 2014 at 12:46

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