Results of the Nebula Award in the year 1977.
Wealth…or death. Those were the choices Gateway offered. Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their destinations are preprogrammed. They are easy to operate, but impossible to control. Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable. It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers.
2019: NASA astronaut Nigel Walmsley is sent on a mission to intercept a rogue asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Ordered to destroy the comet, he discovers that it is actually the shell of a derelict space probe—a wreck with just enough power to emit a single electronic signal…
2034: A reply is heard. Searching for the source of this signal that comes from outside the solar system, Nigel discovers the existence of a sentient ship. When the new vessel begins to communicate directly with him, the astronaut learns of the horrors that await humanity. The ship was created by an alien race that has spent billions and billions of years searching for intelligent life…to annihilate it.
Through realms of oriental splender and superhuman conflict, a beautiful woman warrior and a fierce man-god journey to challenge a being more awesome than the gods for a magical sword that holds the power of death…and the key to enlightenment.