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What I am sure of:
I read this story on paper.
The protagonist was sentenced for some (real or made-up) crime and imprisoned inside the Alps (or other mountains). The prison was special because all inmates were permanently alone, naked, in complete darkness and silence. However, the cells seemed to be at least partially natural, (maybe "carved" inside the mountain rather than "built") because there were tiny holes in the walls.
Somehow the protagonist figured out that he can barely communicate with another inmate (a woman) through these holes and the two of them plan an escape.
They escape by getting carried away in an underground stream (and falling down a waterfall ???).
The following scene I remember the best:
they get thrown out of the water by the waterfall, and the woman gets angry at the protagonist for messing it up. However, the protagonist rips out some grass and throws it on her. It means they made it outside, but it's night time, so they mistook the darkness for inside the mountain. They both laugh it out and start having sex.
The next morning they raid some clothes from a nearby farmhouse. It appears they are in France.

What I am less sure of:
The reason why our protagonist got imprisoned may have had something to do with refusing a job offer from a very powerful individual.
I think the job involved recovering a spaceship (or some data form the spaceship) that got lost in space. He wondered why they needed him, while they can hire an ESPer for "just 1 million dollars", so he refused, saying the set up is fishy.

Absolutely hazy info:
I feel like the ESPers had some special name, (the telepaths, or something, idk)
There may or may not have been tracking beacons/microchips complicating their prison escape.
I remember thinking the protagonist had a very "American" name, almost to the point of parody.

while I read it on paper, I am absolutely unsure whether it's a novel, or short story, or what... I found the book in my grandfather's house. It was a hardback, with plain teal cover (no art or anything), and I have a sneaking suspicion that my grandfather re-bound the book himself after it "lost" the first cover.
Somehow, my mind connects this story with the words "anthology" and "1970s"...
HOWEVER! As I was reading it, it was clearly split into chapters. Therefore I'm not sure if this single bound volume contained multiple books each with their own chapters, or if this was a short story in parts, or if the cover was simply lying to me...
In any case, since it was in my grandfather's possession, I can imagine that it might indeed have been published around the 1970s.

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  • probably the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/86241/… (which is already a hub for duplicates)
    – Otis
    Feb 17, 2022 at 5:08
  • @Otis good find, when I looked for duplicates yesterday and posted a comment about one, I missed this one. The one I chose wasn't closed then, but I see you and others closed it after I posted. We'll wait to see if the OP accepts the answer before closing. Feb 17, 2022 at 14:22
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    @Otis ngl, reading the other question rang no bells whatsoever. "The stars my destination" is an elephant, and the only part I touched were the flappy ears, while everyone is talking about the trunk and tusks.
    – MetAlien
    Feb 18, 2022 at 0:34
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    @MetAlien, that's pretty common for story ID questions. Everyone remembers different things that stood out for them. That's why we link story ID questions with the same answer together to a single "hub" that accumulates all of the questions (and therefore many of the things that stand out) onto one page for search purposes. Just so it's clear: This being marked duplicate is in no way a problem or a suggestion that you didn't look hard enough!
    – Otis
    Feb 20, 2022 at 14:05

1 Answer 1

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That happens in The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. In the story, people can teleport, but only if they know their exact location and destination. The prison setup keeps them from knowing their location and therefore prevents them from escaping via teleportation.

The bit with the grass after they escape:

He felt the earth under him and clawed up sods of earth and tufts of grass. He thrust them into her face.

The special name for teleporting was "jaunting".

The novel was included in the two-volume anthology A Treasury of Great Science Fiction which was in many school libraries in the 60s and 70s and was a mainstay of the Science Fiction Book Club back then too.

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    I totally agree, I was desperately searching my library but you got there first.
    – mwarren
    Feb 16, 2022 at 13:52
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    This book is also known as Tiger! Tiger! Feb 17, 2022 at 1:08
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    Oh my god! I found images of some print of "A Treasury of Great Science Fiction" with a plain teal cover... Maybe the one I saw was the original cover after all! Sorry for the late reply. A lot of different action happens in "The stars my destination" so it took me a while to confirm.
    – MetAlien
    Feb 18, 2022 at 0:32
  • @MetAlien no problem, interesting question about a book I love. Don't worry about your question being closed as a duplicate and thanks for accepting the answer. Feb 18, 2022 at 0:33

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