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Many of the facts that I'm giving about the story, I'm not 100% confident in, so if you think of something matching this roughly feel free to suggest

  • I think it's a short story, rather than a longer piece
  • I think it's by a very famous sci-fi author, back when I was a child (like 25 years ago) my favorites were Clifford Simak, Robert Sheckley, Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, Philip Dick, Isaac Asimov and the like.
  • The story is about a teleportation station, with a single human inhabitant
  • This inhabitant was a "randomly" chosen human, and once chosen he became responsible for hard moral choices
  • He acts as a sort of immigration officer granting and denying others their wish to teleport
  • He has a "term", and when it ends another poor soul will have to fulfill these duties, there were many before him and there will be many after him.
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up vote 9 down vote accepted


While this answer has been graciously accepted by the OP, it was not the actual story they were looking for. That was Halfway House by Robert Silverberg, as evidenced by their own answer.

Could this be Way Station by Simak?

In it, there is a teleportation hub somewhere in fly-over country. The man who operates it, was born before the Civil War; he ages slower while in the station.

He rescues a little girl from his neighbours, who are afraid of her telepathis powers. Those powers turn out to be needed by the galaxy, to operate an ancient artefact that helps restore peace.

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Damn, your answer made it even worse =). I definitely read the Way Station, and initially when you mentioned it I thought, "yes! this is it!", but then I started leafing through it, and I think that there was also another story, and what is worse it might be it mixed in my brain with the Way Station. I'm almost wanting to delete my question now, because I feel bad that it might not be answerable at all. Thank you for you answer!!! – zespri Jan 31 at 10:14
@AndrewSavinykh, well, you could ask a new question, knowing what you know now, or you could try coming to Science Fiction & Fantasy Chat (although it's a bit quiet there as I type this, but in a couple of hours it will be busier) and see if we can help you get this or a new question into shape. Glad I could be of some help. – SQB Jan 31 at 10:18
This is a most amazing coincidence. You see, I read the story in Russian, because I could not read/speak English back then. "Way Station" is translated as "Peresadochnaya Stantsiya" which roughly means "Transfer Station". But the story I meant also translated as "Peresadochnaya Stantsiya". However in English the name was NOT Way Station. It was Halfway House by Robert Silverberg. And that's the real reason why, when I saw "Way Station" in your answer I thought "this is it!" - you gave the right name, just a different author. – zespri Jan 31 at 11:51
@AndrewSavinykh hey, that's great! You can answer your own question then, that's totally alright. Encouraged, even. I mean, writing an answer yourself and accepting it. – SQB Jan 31 at 11:57
@AndrewSavinykh please do also add your answer, even if you don't want to accept it. Your question could be helpful for anyone looking for Halfway House in the future. – Xantec Jan 31 at 12:11

It was Halfway House by Robert Silverberg.

Franco Alfieri is a very rich man, but the best doctors on Earth can't stop the cancer eating at his body. Fortunately, there are other worlds with advanced medicine. Alfieri applies to be sent through the Fold, an interdimensional rift, to a planet where his disease can be cured. But there is a price to be paid for such a privilege, and Alfieri's wealth will do him no good at all.

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Think Like a Dinosaur includes a teleportation station, a lone man (one of many that have had and will have the job) and a hard moral choice. The only issue is it dates from 1995, so might be of the wrong era.

Outer Limits Episode

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I was not able to locate an electronic version for sale, and a physical could take a couple of weeks to arrive in this part of the world. However synopsis by the wikipedia article, makes me think it's not the piece I'm after. I'm almost certain that the protagonist was male, not female. – zespri Jan 31 at 6:58
The Outer Limits episode produced from this story is a male operator. I suggest you check out the episode summary. It is more comprehensive. – Vicpylon Jan 31 at 7:01

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