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I read this book about 1988-89.
Sci fi, dealt with an alien space station (out in deep space) that humans stumble upon, long abandoned by a possibly insect-like race, human sized (they can tell from the shape of the chairs and such) and the station is full of ships. If you get in one and press a button it will go on an indeterminable round trip to another star. It could be a day, could be months and months. People get paid 'rewards' for taking out a ship and if they return with valuable destinations (another station or something of interest) they are paid quite well. It's written from the perspective of one of these would-be 'gold rush' guys who wants to try his hand... he ends up almost landing in a black hole or something like that.

Any help identifying this book? Author/title etc? I would love to read it again :)

Thanks a bunch!!

marked as duplicate by Xantec, Jason Baker, Politank-Z, Ram, Dave Johnson Nov 28 '16 at 16:57

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This sounds a lot like the series of books by Frederik Pohl involving the Heechee. There have been a couple of books published, most in the late 1970s to the early/middle 1980s, although the one you're looking for sounds most like Gateway.

  • Gateway (1977)
  • Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980)
  • Heechee Rendezvous (1984)
  • Annals of the Heechee (1987)
  • The Boy Who Would Live Forever: A Novel of Gateway (2004)

Teaser for Gateway from Amazon:

Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe...and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune. Three missions later, now famous and permanently rich, Robinette Broadhead has to face what happened to him and what he is...in a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!

From Wikipedia regarding the Heechee:

The Heechee's appearance is described as smaller than humans, bow-legged with skeletal frames, and possessed of dark, plastic-smooth skin with patches and curlicues of bright gold and scarlet. Each Heechee carries a microwave emitter in a storage pod between his or her legs. The pod is a trapezohedron shaped device and is also used for carrying equipment. The pods also explain why the seats on the ship have V-shaped indentations to accommodate the devices. The Heechee's home planet evolved near a naturally occurring microwave source, making the background radiation a necessary requirement for an ambient environment; the extended absence of the radiation will cause illness and death.

  • thats the one! thanks!!! :) broadhead name jumped right out at me – FonzY Nov 29 '11 at 21:48
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    Gateway is one of my favorite novels of all time. Mostly because of how character-focused it is, despite having a "big" scifi concept. – neilfein Nov 29 '11 at 22:34
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    I'd read a little gold age SF in middle-school (but, alas no Heinlein). Then, when I went to the barely stocked library of my brand, spanking, new high-school on the first week of the year I found, took home and read Brave New World, The Lathe of Heaven and Gateway. Needless to say I was floored. Then the next week they got in Ringworld and the librarian who had noticed me pointed me at it. Thus are unhealthy obsessions born. – dmckee Nov 30 '11 at 0:34
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    @dmckee nothing unhealthy at all about reading – Xantec Jan 6 '12 at 18:18

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