I must confess that for a long time I was no fan of telepathy in science fiction. I’ve never given it much thought, simply dismissing it as another generic plot device that required some suspension of disbelief, like humanoid-looking aliens and artificial gravity (creature effects and wirework are expensive after all). That is until I stumbled on a little gem from the ’90s called “Babylon 5” some years ago. A couple of episodes in they introduce this character that was to become the main antagonist of the series, played by a familiar face, namely Walther Koenig, whom you may know as Pavel Chekov of the original Star Trek series. I instantly hated the guy, for two reasons mostly. Firstly I was put off by the fact that every time he opened his mouth, I was expecting him to explain in a stereotypical Russian accent how Whisky was invented by a little old lady in Leningrad. What I got instead was this generic American accent, which felt just wrong. Secondly, the guy was a major asshole and proud of it. In hindsight, this is a major credit to Walther’s acting chops, as it takes a special kind of actor to pull off such a character (that snot-nosed kid from Game of Thrones comes to mind). That character was Alfred Bester, a senior officer of the Psi Corps, an organization that oversees and regulates the activity and status of telepaths across the Earth Alliance.
After reading up on some behind-the-scenes trivia, I learned the character was named after a sci-fi author from the ‘50s, best remembered for his novel “The Demolished Man”, which popularized several tropes related to telepaths that are still used in sci-fi to this day. I decided to give it a chance, and after the first few pages, I was hooked. Besides the usual 1950s camp that is to be expected, it actually dealt with some interesting concepts(although outdated by today’s standards) about Freudian psychoanalysis and some interesting typography to illustrate telepathic conversations. It also has sort of a twist ending related to the “Demolition” in the title. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt inspired to explore how telepathy would work in the “Republic of Sol” universe. And this story is the result. Enjoy!