Results of the John W. Campbell Award in the year 1978.
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.
Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.
Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D—which Arctor takes in massive doses—gradually splits the user’s brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn’t realize he is narcing on himself.
Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick’s industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.