I'm trying to identify a novel that I partially read many years ago.
This is a real long-shot as I remember very little details.
Googling the title is impossible due to the festival of the same name that generates millions of hits.

A novel that I read in English or possible a Dutch translation of a (most likely) English original.
I got it from my local library in the mid to late eighties. I had to return the book before getting half-way into it. I tried to find it later but it had been taken out of the library collection.

I didn't get far into the novel. I don't remember anything about the main character or the plot.
What I do remember:
It is set on Earth in an unspecified near future where teleportation is completely common place. Most people have to ability to do it. People commute to/from work by teleportation.
People can not randomly teleport anywwhere they like. They need to have a clear visual memory of the place they want to go to. There are teleporting stations (like subway stations) all over town with distinctive murals or floor-patterns that people use as targets and they walk to last mile or so to wherever they need to go.
I'm not certain but I seem to recall the teleporatation method is aided by technology, with a computer or AI making sure people don't bump into each other when teleporting. This AI may also keep track of people to prevent them jumping to places they are not allowed to go.

The "burning man" is a guy who is locked into some halfway teleported state and who appears to be "on fire" to people who see him.

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    I'm getting a Kurt Vonnegut feeling about this but can't pin it down. – richardb Jan 30 at 23:40

I think this is The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. It was originally released under the title Tiger! Tiger!. The 1980 Dutch translation was titled De Brandende Man, which translates to The Burning Man.

At the time when the book is set, "jaunting"—personal teleportation—has so upset the social and economic balance that the Inner Planets are at war with the Outer Satellites. Gully Foyle of the Presteign-owned merchant spaceship Nomad—an uneducated, unskilled, unambitious man whose life is at a dead end—is marooned in space when the ship is attacked and he alone survives. After six months of his waiting for rescue, a passing spaceship, the Vorga, also owned by the powerful Presteign industrial clan, ignores his signal and abandons him. Foyle is enraged and is transformed into a man consumed by revenge, the first of many transformations.


Meanwhile, Presteign reveals that PyrE is activated by telepathy, and Robin is enlisted to trigger it to flush out Foyle. Bits of PyrE left exposed by Foyle's tests to determine its purpose cause destruction worldwide, but primarily at Foyle's abandoned encampment in St. Patrick's Cathedral, where Sheffield has brought him. The church partially collapses, killing Sheffield and trapping Foyle, unconscious but alive, over a pit of flame. Suffering from synesthesia brought on by the explosion affecting his neurological implants, Foyle jauntes through space and time as The Burning Man. Finally he lands in the future, where Robin telepathically tells him how to escape from the collapsing cathedral.


... Bester added to this mix the concept that human beings could learn to teleport, or "jaunte" from point to point, provided they know the exact locations of their departure and arrival and have physically seen the destination, similar to A. E. van Vogt's Gilbert Gosseyn in the 1948 novel The World of Null-A.

Found with a search for novel teleporter accident "burning man"

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  • This doesn't ring any bells whatsoever. I can't recall any space-travel at all in the first part of the novel that I read. – Tonny Jan 30 at 15:08
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    The stuff about clear visual memory is 100% on target for TSMD, one of the characters is a teacher who gives classes in this. Also the protagonist himself is the burning man at one point. I would be surprised if this is not the correct answer. However there are basically no AI computers in the book, it is too old for that. You may be mixing up two works. – Organic Marble Jan 30 at 15:26
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    I did a quick search through my ebook collection en discovered that I had grabbed this book from a newsgroup a couple of years ago. I just read through the 1st 30 pages and I can assure you it most definitely NOT the book I'm looking for. I already had my doubts. I've read more by Bester over the years and somehow I never liked his writing style. This one is no exception. It just doesn't feel like something I like to read. – Tonny Jan 30 at 19:31
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    A. E. van Vogt's The World of Ā is an earlier example of the "can teleport anywhere you know well", but it's only a few people with that ability, and there's no "burning man" teleportation accident. – FuzzyBoots Jan 31 at 18:45

Hmm! This is getting more interesting. I'm afraid we're all suffering canalized thinking due to how much this resembles the grand finale of TSMD, but you sure blew up my favorite theory by re-reading a bit of TSMD. (BTW, Tonny, did you try to reread the last 30 pages of Burning Man/TSMD? By that point it's a very different book from the first 30 pages.) Anyway, here is a VERY VERY hazy fall back position: how about something from Larry Niven's stories about teleportation? It partially makes an appearance in his KNOWN SPACE series (the Puppeteers have teleportation disks) but mostly it is in alternative future history with stories like "The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club", see Niven's anthology entitled "Hole in Space" (Honestly this just does NOT sound like what you're talking about either, I'm sorry.)

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  • I had the same impressions and the same advice (read the last 30 pages). But I don't recall AI being involved in Niven's teleportation booths/stepping disks/"instant-elsewhere booths." That makes it sound like a different story, perhaps written after Bester's novel and deriving some ideas from it. – Invisible Trihedron Jan 31 at 17:29
  • I also considered that, but in the Niven books no "clear visual memory" is needed, you just dial a number, or on the Puppeteer world, walk onto a platform. There is also no burning man IIRC. I wouldn't be surprised if the OP is conflating the two works. – Organic Marble Jan 31 at 18:18

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