Frederik Pohl - Gateway (2)
I've been busy checking out the Hugo and Nebula award winners, and this one was a particular delight. An unknown alien species, the Heechee, disappeared a long time ago, but left some artifacts, most notable a space station equipped with hundreds of interstellar ships attached. The ships are mostly operational, but nobody knows how the course setting machine works, what the destinations are, and how long the trip will be. Mortality on these trips is high, with most coming back emptyhanded, so the exploration of the Heechee legacy is run as a kind of lottery, where explorers might die or disappear, but might also come back with incredible new artifacts or knowledge, making them rich for life. This is the background to the story of one man, who struck it rich on one of these trips, but can't cope with what happened, and what he had to do to survive. We witness his therapy sixteen years later, and the original events unfolding in parallel, with documentary material, like classifieds from the station's newspaper, ingeniously strewn in.