Gateway, by Frederik Pohl
Rating: It gets better as it goes on
Humans discover a space-travel depot run by alien technology that they do not understand. Ships can be programmed with a pre-determined plot that the creators understood, but previously-untraveled programs are dangerous because they may not return. The story alternates between chapters telling Rob’s career as an explorer, and sessions that he has with his robotic Psychoanalysis therapist. For a while the sessions feel weird and 70s, but the two threads culminate by revealing that Rob has PTSD guilt for leaving his fellow expedition mates for dead in his last mission.
Writing this review many months after reading it, I only recall that the writing was very 70s, and that the charicature of Freudian psychotherapy was weird but eventually “got to the point” that Pohl had in mind. Probably a decent picture of the anxieties that some Americans had at the time.
Rob becomes infatuated with a woman, who is independent and I think was three-dimensional. I don’t really remember the details of her dynamic with the story. [Oh yeah: the crux of the story is his repressed trauma over having watched her die]