This synopsis will contain spoilers!
A Hechee Food Factory is discovered and Robin Broadhead commissions an expedition to go bring it back to earth to help alleviate the impending food shortage. The party consists of Lurvy and Paul Hall (husband and wife), Janine Herter (Lurvy's 14 year old sister) and Peter Herter (Lurvy and Janine's father). After an over 3 year flight, the group arrives at the Food Factory, but it perfectly counteracts every attempt they make to change its direction.
The Herter-Hall party begins they will have to return without the Factory (and thus without the millions in reward) when Wan arrives. Wan is a young man who's parents were Gateway explorers. They ended up on Hechee Heaven, where Wan was born. He has been traveling between the two for the last 11 years (he's 15 now) alone except for conversations with the Dead Men (computer records of other Gateway travelers) and the Old Ones (ancient primates from earth that the Hechee had been breeding on Hechee Heaven for 500,000 years).
Wan tells the group about the dream couch, which it turns out gives the person sleeping in it the ability to transmit their consciousness to all humans on earth. Wan has been doing this for the last 11 years, and it was being mistaken for the 130 day fever. Paul, Lurvy, and Janine decide to return to Hechee Heaven with Wan.
Back on Earth, Robin's wife Essie (who develops sophisticated computer programs) is killed in an accident during Wan's last trip into the dream couch. She is reanimated, but her outlook is grim. Peter Herter remains at the Food Factory, and begins to go mad, and uses the dream couch to try to improve his stake in the expedition. On Hechee Heaven, Wan teaches everyone how to read the Hechee Prayer Fans (which are, in fact, books).
Essie continues to heal, and it is clear that she will survive. Janine, Wan, and Lurvy are captured by the Old Ones who we learn are lead by an AI called the Oldest One. Robin, with the help of his AI helpers Albert (Einstein) and Sigfrid von Shrink, devises a method to use the Dead Men to learn Hechee secrets and save the captured crew. Peter dies in the dream couch, forcing everyone on earth to live through his death.
Robin takes a shuttle to Hechee Heaven and nearly dies. With Paul's help he is able to rescue their companions, use the Dead Men to extract the means to pilot and create Hechee ships, and returns to earth. Everyone becomes disgustingly wealthy from all the discoveries.
Finally, we learn that the Hechee have created a black hole at the center of the galaxy where they are hiding until the universe collapses again. Albert hypothesizes this is so they can reset the galactic variables to make the universe more hospitable to life. It turns out, though, that the Hechee are not the ones making the changes, but they are aware of some other race of beings (Them) who are. They are just hoping another intelligent race comes into existence to stand between the Hechee and Them when the time comes.
Clearly I must have enjoyed Beyond the Blue Event Horizon considering I read it in about four days. It's interesting, though, because for the first couple days it really ...- Dec. 8, 2009
"At least, Captain thought grayly to himself, when They do come back to reoccupy this universe that They are reshaping to suit Their whims, They'll have to get through those others before They get to us."Frederik Pohl the Last Line of in Beyond the Blue Event Horizon