Thursday, January 27, 2022

Re-Reading Larry Niven's A Hole in Time

It is a collection of short stories, one of which has the first description of a "flash mob."  It is not based on social media, of course, but news media coverage of local crowd.   In "The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club" we are introduced to a bunch of criminals who use the recently invented teleportation booths to show up at riots to loot, pickpocket, and rob.  I shudder to think of social media flash mobbing with teleportation booths.  Of course half a million people would get busy signals so I guess it would work out okay.

1 comment:

  1. In '93 I was living in a foreign city and the city's sports team was in the championship game. Riots were known to follow such games, and our church as a few blocks from the stadium, so I went with some friends just to vigil and pray outside the church, as it would be tragic to have it burned.
    There was a riot and lots of damage, but it all followed one road away from the stadium and not in our direction.
    Simultaneously, however, computer and electronics stores all over the city were hit by smash and grab burglaries, the perpetrators masked and in black, arriving in unmarked box trucks with license plates obscured and fleeing within minutes after loading up high-value items incredibly quickly. So someone was organized enough to have the personnel, vehicles, and predetermined targets, and to know when the suburban and distant parts of the city would have distracted police. I don't recall that there was ever any news of arrests on this.
    So no teleportation booths (so far as we know) but large-scale organized theft timed to take advantage of potential riots does seem to be a tactic not just in fiction.