Entry updated 21 May 2016. Tagged: Theme.
In now somewhat obsolete sf Terminology, a person who is able to use one or more of the powers of ESP, as in E E Smith's "Storm Cloud on Deka" (June 1942 Astonishing) – perhaps its earliest sf appearance. This is usually regarded as including such "passive" powers as Telepathy (mind-reading) and perhaps Precognition and clairvoyance; and occasionally also the "active" psychic abilities – those that interact with the world of matter, such as Telekinesis. However, most sf writers prefer the term Psi Powers or sometimes Psionics for the full spectrum of such abilities, reserving "ESP" for Telepathy and related sensory talents.
The best-known novel which uses this term for telepaths is The Demolished Man (January-March 1952 Galaxy; 1953) by Alfred Bester. James Blish's Jack of Eagles (December 1949 Thrilling Wonder as "Let the Finder Beware!"; rev 1952; cut 1953; full text vt ESP-er 1958) was given the variant title ESP-er in a 1958 reprint, and Lloyd Biggle Jr's first novel – dealing with an alien parapsychic society – is The Angry Espers (August 1959 Amazing as "A Taste of Fire"; rev with cuts restored 1961 dos). Further appearances in English-language sf titles are The Espers (1972) by Steven M Souza, The Esper Transfer (1978) by Geo W Proctor and Esper's War (1981) by Roger Perry. The word has also been adopted into Japanese sf, as in Taku Mayumura's sequence Futeiki Esper ["Irregular Esper"] (1988-1989) and Hitoshi Yoshioka's Kaze-hiki Esper ["Telepath with a Cold"] (1998 2vols). [DRL/PN]
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