By Richard C.
I would be in big, big trouble around telepaths! But it is fun to think about, and telepathy has been a compelling sci/fi theme for decades. These six telepathy tales cover the empowering and sometimes maddening experience of mind readers:
1) The Demolished Man (1953) In one of the earliest takes on telepathy in sci/fi, ruthless industrialist Ben Reich plans a murder while haunted by nightmares of a faceless man. Reich enlists one telepath in the plot while another more skilled “peeper” is soon on the case. Best of all is a climax that set a trend throughout future print and televised science fiction.
2) The Chrysalids (1955) David is a child living in a community tightly gripped by religious fundamentalists, where leaders tolerate no deviation in thought or genes in any form of life. A chance encounter with people from “The Fringe” spurs David’s sympathy for a young girl, and the powers he’s only beginning to understand will change his life forever.
3) Catalyst (2010) Most essential on every star ship crew is, what else, but a cat. Aboard the Molly Daise, Chessie bonds deeply with her human companion, but will soon give birth to a kitten that makes an even deeper bond with humans, a power they’ll all need in facing an emerging threat to animal life everywhere. Anne McCaffery offers a cat-lovers delight for those that didn’t think they could like science fiction. For something very similar but with dragons, try her series Dragon Riders of Pern.
4) Dying Inside (1972) Mind reading doesn’t always serve the bearer well. Grown accustomed to telepathy and having squandered it on minutiae, David Selig nearly goes mad with the experience of gradually losing his ability. Relationships teeter and identities shift in this personal, passionate, and engrossing story of mindfulness and loss.
5) Necropath (2009) Living with telepathy is haunting Jeff Vaughan. On the Bengal Station orbiting Earth, inspecting ships and scanning for criminals is exhausting work. But when an alien cult of drugs and human idols hits too close to home, he pursues a mystery that challenges his assumptions about intelligence in the galaxy. A nice crime noir sci/fi medley, and a good recommendation if you liked Philip K. Dick‘s short story The Minority Report.
6) Clean (2012) The Tech Wars are over, but everyone resents the drastic measures taken by the Telepaths to end the conflict. Meanwhile, drug abuse dogs an unnamed narrator and the addiction means the only work he can get is helping police track down serial killers. But the mystery behind one murder will reveal as much about the Telepaths as it does his own unique identity. Minus the telepathy, a great read-alike for atmosphere will be KOP by Warren Hammond.