It was in an anthology, and I believe it was a kind of sci-fi detective story. The premise was that teleportation (or something like it) was possible, but there had to be an equivalent mass in another booth (?) to balance the person being transported. The balancing individual would essentially explode (or something similarly gruesome), and so condemned criminals were used for this purpose.

The narrator was some kind of law enforcement personnel, who has a negative reaction when a colleague from another city chooses to travel this way, even though the situation is not an emergency.

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    – amflare
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


I think you are thinking of "Via Vortex" by John Meaney, included in Lou Anders' anthology Sideways in Crime. From the Strange Horizons synopsis/review:

John Meaney's "Via Vortex" pulls a switch on the familiar "if the Nazis won WWII" by having the Nazis be both Germans and Americans (or Amerikans). The Allies—England and France, it seems—won somehow by the use of vortices of energy which persist in place, one on Ellis Island, for instance. This seems to recall the destructive atomic vortices of E. E. Doc Smith's The Vortex Blasters, although it's not clear that Meaney intends the same thing or even means to invoke Smith's concept.

Instantaneous travel by vortex resonance is possible, but for many, morally repugnant; it recalls vaguely the magic trick in the film of The Prestige. There are many other science fictional ideas, such as "psychophysics," which vaguely recalls Asimov's "psychohistory," and a fundamentalist cult that worships the sun, the "vortex patterns" of which reveal it to be self-aware.

  • That sounds like what I read. Thank you!
    – Ragua
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 19:46
  • Funny to see psychophysics listed as a "science fictional idea", when it is actually an established scientific field. Dating to the 19th century, it provided the empirical foundation for the subsequent wider development of psychology and neuroscience, and remains an active field of research today... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychophysics Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 23:24

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