What would happen if instant travel to anywhere in the world was possible? What would be the effect on the economy, society, crime fighting, and most pertinently to this story, civil disobedience?
Jerryberry is a newstaper, a journalist who makes his living hopping from one instant travel booth to another, looking out for interesting happenings and filming as he goes. One day, he reports live on a shoplifting incident. More and more people transfer in to see what's going on, and a small riot ensues; which makes more people want to see what's going on, and a large riot ensues; and it seems that nobody knows how to make it stop...
Who hasn't thought about being able to just "beam" from one place to another? Certainly the idea of getting rid of the commute is an attractive one. But whenever I've thought about this, I always come to the conclusion that big business would run the system and that normal people's lives wouldn't be affected in any good way. I'm sure that if most people do working hours of 9-5 with an average one hour commute each side, companies would just expect you to transfer in at 8 and work until 6 then transfer home, on the grounds that you were out of the house the same length of time!
Quirky note: love the fact that in Niven's world, the instant travel is still arranged like making phone calls in the early days, with separate systems for local and long distance travel. It just seems like an artificial divide in the context of a system that moves atoms around (although the reason for the divide is explained in the story).
Flash CrowdLarry Niven
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