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"Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way."
- Robert Heinlein

Farcaster  
  A portal for traveling between distant stars; inexpensive, instantaneous travel to remote worlds.  

One of the common literary devices used to fix the problem of having your characters visit another star system; the problem being that if your characters travel in ordinary space, they will probably be dead by the time they get there.

Simmons does much more with these devices in his story; I don't want to spoil the story by revealing the details. He details very carefully how the use of this device often ruins the very thing people use farcasters to come and see; technology as simple as the interstate highway has brought our national parks to the point of closing to visitors.

News traveled almost instantaneously through the megadatasphere of a hundred and sixty Web worlds. To scratch the curiosity itch one had only to pass a universal card across a terminex diskey and step through a farcaster.
From Hyperion, by Dan Simmons.
Published by Doubleday in 1989
Additional resources -

The farcaster technology was also developed by The Core, a group of disaffected artificial intelligences that effectively seceded from human space.

For a much earlier example, see the entry for Ramsbotham Gate, from Robert Heinlein's 1955 novel Tunner in the Sky. For something designed to work on the surface of a planet (as opposed to between planets), see the stepping discs from Larry Niven's Ringworld.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Hyperion
  More Ideas and Technology by Dan Simmons
  Tech news articles related to Hyperion
  Tech news articles related to works by Dan Simmons

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