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I think it was a short story or novella. A wormhole or some other portal is discovered and all attempts at automated study of what is on the other side fail - all recordings come back blank. They send people, but they come back insane so they have people trained as councilors to gently bring them back to reality. Also tied with my memories of this story is the concept of flowers - like maybe in the name or figures in the story.

marked as duplicate by Otis, Jason Baker, Rand al'Thor Oct 9 '16 at 17:58

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It might be William Gibson's short story Hinterlands. A portal is discovered in the space between Earth and Mars. Those few that are taken through the portal come back insane or dead by their own hand. Sometimes they also bring back invaluable alien tech, so a program is developed to keep sending people and trying to help the ones that come back.

“Ever wonder how they thought this scam up, Toby?” She was squinting into the sunlight, east, down the length of our cylindrical country, horizonless and green. “They must’ve had all the heavies in, the shrink elite, scattered down a long slab of genuine imitation rosewood, standard Pentagon issue. Each one got a clean notepad and a brand-new pencil, specially sharpened for the occasion. Everybody was there: Freudians, Jungians, Adlerians, Skinner rat men, you name it. And every one of those bastards knew in his heart that it was time to play his best hand. As a profession, not just as representatives of a given faction. There they are, Western psychiatry incarnate. And nothing’s happening! People are popping back off the Highway dead, or else they come back drooling, singing nursery rhymes. The live ones last about three days, won’t say a goddamned thing, then shoot themselves or go catatonic.” She took a small flashlight from her belt and casually cracked its plastic shell, extracting the parabolic reflector. “Kremlin’s screaming. CIA’s going nuts. And worst of all, the multinationals who want to back the show are getting cold feet. ‘Dead spacemen? No data? No deal, friends.’ So they’re getting nervous, all those supershrinks, until some flake, some grinning weirdo from Berkeley maybe, he says,” and her drawl sank to parody stoned mellowness, ” ‘Like, hey, why don’t we just put these people into a real nice place with a lotta good dope and somebody they can really relate to, hey?’ ”

  • ...and the therapists are recruited from the many who try to be, but are not, taken through the portal ("somebody they can really relate to"). Excellent story. – gowenfawr Mar 24 '15 at 14:28
  • Yes! That is it exactly! I think I read it in Burning Chrome. Thank you so much for helping. I can now reassign those mental threads I had working on this to another task. – Jason Goldman Mar 25 '15 at 12:26

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