Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Gateway by Frederik Pohl is a classic science fiction novel which, perhaps surprisingly, has dated very little since it was first published in 1977. At the time, Gateway won multiple major science fiction awards, including the Hugo Award, the Locus Award and the Nebula Award.
Gateway is a hollow asteroid that contains hundreds of ships abandoned by the mysterious HeeChee millennia ago.
No-one knows to control or guide the alien ships, but finding a HeeChee artefact can make a person rich and finding a cache of artefacts can make him or her wealthy beyond measure. And so, there are adventurers and fortune-hunters who are willing to take the ships out on potentially lucrative – but highly risky – runs to destinations pre-programmed by the HeeChee, despite not knowing whether the ship they take out will ever return.
Robinette Broadhead is one such adventurer who, having won a lottery for a one-way trip to Gateway and taken three trips on HeeChee ships, has achieved the dream and become mega rich. However, with the help of an AI counsellor, he has to come to terms with what occurred on that final journey.
This is a great book, worthy of its awards. Highly recommended.