De Laurentiis has been watching the rights for Gateway for a while, and pursued it aggressively when it became available, always with the idea of it being a TV series as opposed to a feature film. “Television gives us the opportunity of exploring the rich world of the novel and the complexity of its characters,” executive producer Martha De Laurentiis said. De Laurentiis has a long history with novel adaptations, with the 1984 massive Dune the best known.
Gateway revolves around a space station discovered inside an asteroid built by an alien race called the Heechee, who have long since disappeared. Humans struggle to learn the technology left behind, with little success. Among the abandoned equipment are approximately one thousand small starships, capable of taking one, three, or five crewmembers on a potentially highly profitable journey – but incredibly dangerous, as while they have figured out how to select a destination, they have no idea how long it will take to get there, in which case starvation is entirely possible, or what other dangers they may face along the way or when they arrive. Many never return, but for the chance of untold riches many volunteer. Robinette Broadhead is one of them, having one a lottery to make enough money for a one-way trip to Gateway, and the chance for more. He returns very rich – and very haunted…
Gateway won the 1977 Nebula Award and 1978 Hugo, Locus and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Science Fiction Best Novel.