Mind-Reading Characters in Fiction

  1. AlexH

    AlexH Well-Known Member

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    I'm researching for a story and looking for mind-readers, rather than characters who can transfer thoughts.

    For example, I'm pretty sure Charles Xavier can read minds (as well as his other telepathic abilities), but can Jean Grey? I believe Superman can read minds too, and could Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)? Buffy was able to read minds for one episode. How about Vulcans? I don't know Star Trek well enough (or anything, it seems). I know there are more examples, but my mind has gone blank (and I've had this story for about a year).

    They don't have to be famous. And it doesn't have to be SFF either, though I guess there's always an aspect of fantasy in mind-reading...

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Jo Zebedee

    Jo Zebedee writes books about people.

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    Mind readers are pretty rare - perhaps they are too omnipotent - but Empaths are more common (I wrote a trilogy about one so did some research)

    Cally in Blake's Seven was a mind reader/telepath.

    Arguably some of the Jedi were mind readers - so Luke picked up his friends' pain in Cloud City while in Dagobath. Not direct thoughts, as with Cally, so genreral Empath skills. But Kylo Ren attacked Rey's thoughts in FA.

    Paul Atreides, using the Bene Gesserit skills, iirc, was an Empath at the very least.

    I'm pretty sure X-files have had several mind readers although would struggle to name the episodes, and Tales of the Unexpected.

    The woman with the antennae in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was an Empath. Actually, a good portrayal.

    King's Tommyknockers come to mind, as does Firestarter (Charlie picks up thoughts and the father can persuade people to do things). Dean R Koontz, from distant memory, has at least one book with a thought-stealer.
     
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  3. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    I don't believe Superman could read minds in the comic books?

    (Okay, sorry -I know that didn't help your search.)
     
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  4. AlexH

    AlexH Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much @Jo Zebedee - empaths are a good backup if I can't find enough mind-readers - I can't believe I didn't click with the GotG2 character. I think I'll have enough to go on with your list anyway.

    @Cathbad - I thought he had read minds in the films, but if he hasn't that's also a great help. I want to get my facts right. :)
     
  5. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    He was able to affect LL's mind in the movies - a heretofore unseen talent. ;)
     
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  6. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

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    Culture Minds could read the minds of humans routinely - in this case, by a physical mechanism rather than something supernatural. In effect, they planted sensors all over someone's brain (immaterial ones) and interpreted the results. I imagine there are other examples of this in SF, but that's the one that comes to mind. Incidentally, the same sort of mechanism could be used for transmitting data and even mind control.

    A rather famous set of examples of mental contact are just about all the major characters in the Lensmen series.
     
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  7. farntfar

    farntfar Ah well.Back to normal

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    John Wyndham's book "The Crysalids" is about the struggle of a group of telepaths in a post apocalyptic and very puritanical society, which hates anything abnormal.
    For the most part they can only exchange thoughts voluntarily, but Petra, the youngest and most powerful telepath, is also able to hear the others' Behind-Thinks as she calls them, or the thoughts that they aren't trying to project.

    This sort of defines mind reading as involuntary telepathy.
    Oh therefore also at the end of Wyndham's Midwich Cuckoos, where the children are trying to break down the professor's (?) mental wall.(Very graphically shown in the film the Village of the Damned.)

    Another set of books which contain a lot of mind-reading against the person's will are Julian May's Galactic Milieu trilogy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
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  8. Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    Mind reading comes in many forms; including and not limited too:

    1) tactile mind reading such as Vulcans achieve where you have to be in contact to read another's thoughts.

    2) Distance where the mind reader can read minds at a distance. River Tam from Firefly is probably the most famous recent mind reader; however this ability is the kind typically rolled out in most mind-readings in sci-fi or fantasy. The range varies a lot and sometimes isn't even all that consistent in some situations.

    3) Digital where the reading is achieved via computer implants in both parties involved. Ghost in the Shell (manga/tv/film) would be a popular good example.

    4) Magical or ability based tends to be either like distance mind-reading in fantasy; or its a bonding between two or more individuals. The latter is most often encountered in fantasy in the form of familiars or animal bonding; whereupon the animal typically is either already intelligent (dragons) or gets an intelligence "upgrade" as a result of the bond (either instant or gradually over time - Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb would have a good example of this).

    5) Group-thinks - the Borg in Startrek would be a good example here. In this its almost an extreme form of mind-reading in that each individual is linked to a multitude of others. In the case of the Borg this overwrites individuality within the collective giving an overall consciousness of The Borg.

    Most serial sci-fi shots dabble in a mind reading alien at least once or twice so you might well find them all over the place there. In general most are monster of the week whereby you've got the mind-reader appearing for one, maybe two episodes and then moving into the background
     
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  9. Cat's Cradle

    Cat's Cradle Time, now, to read...

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    Hi AlexH! I have two classic SF novels for you which feature telepaths.

    Dying Inside by Robert Silverbeg. A first-person account of a telepath losing his ability, and how his world just shatters because of it (it's set in 1970s NYC, IIRC).

    The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. A futuristic story about an evil industrialist who tries to commit a murder in a society where telepathic police officers have made getting away with murder virtually impossible.

    These are simplified explanations of the books, but maybe one of them fits in with what you're going to write. CC
     
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  10. SilentRoamer

    SilentRoamer Well-Known Member

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    Ok so to throw up a couple more:

    Babylon 5 - One of the overarching plots of the show was how telepaths were used to fight the Shadows - this was because the Vorlons had mucked about in other races genetic pools and brought on the telepaths faster than they should, the Na'arn are actually supposed to be the most powerful telepaths but the WindRiders are all but wiped out. Lots of source material to mine here including a government organization centred around psychic ability.

    Star Trek - Vulcans are telepathic but IIRC they need physical touch, Betazoids are empathic and don't need physical touch or even physicla proximity although this does help. The Ocompa haven't been mentioned, Kes was one of the strongest regular appearance telepaths on the show. Oddly enough I am not sure the Q are actually telepaths although I have to assume they could be if they only wished it.

    In literature there are loads and loads of examples but an obvious one would be The Mule from Asimovs Foundation series.
     
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  11. Cat's Cradle

    Cat's Cradle Time, now, to read...

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    Oh, Babylon 5 is a great example - the Psi Corps!

    Just a thought about The Mule...I seem to recall that he was an adjuster of emotions (a powerful empath), rather than a telepath. Does that sound right? I have The Foundation series sitting in my Kindle...I guess I'll be able to answer the question myself later this year. :)
     
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  12. nixie

    nixie pixie druid Staff Member

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    I am surprised no one has mentioned Raymond E Feist's Gamina. Pug's foster daughter, I think she first appeared in Silverthorn as a young girl who later went on to marry Jimmy the Hand in Prince of the Blood.
    A very powerful mind reader left as a baby to die, not only could she read minds but could project thoughts into other peoples heads.
     
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  13. Montero

    Montero Senior Member

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    Anne McCaffrey - To Ride Pegasus and the books that follow later including the Rowan series.
    I seem to remember EE Doc Smith "The Lensman" series covers that - a long time since I read, and I think they've not dated very well....
    Lee and Miller's Liaden series - the Dramliz and the healers and the bond between two lifemates. Varying amount on that depending on the book in the series, but it weaves it way through.
     
  14. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    king's "The Shining"?
     
  15. dannymcg

    dannymcg I am not a robot

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    There's them lot in the Patrick Ness trilogy "the knife of never letting go " etc
     
  16. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    So, we want receiving telepaths who can only transmit to other telepaths, and definitely won't attempt to dominate a non-telepath?

    As in Anne MacCaffrey's Pegasus to tower and hive series? ( not forgetting her dragonriders, who communicate with their beasts, not other humans). Louis McMaster Bujold's 'Ethan of Athos' gives us Terrence, Spider Robinson's Callahan's place gives us several, plus a couple of mind-merges of everyone around, James H.Schmitz gives us Telzey Amberdon, Larry Niven offers Larry Greenberg (in World of Ptavvs) and several extraterrestrial mind receivers (Though Kzinti don't appreciate it much). Even Heinlein has a couple of telepathic characters hanging around - there was a sort of assumption back when I was starting to read SF that that was something that was going to happen. Asimov has a telepathic robot, though I can't offhand think of any Clarke except 'Childhood's end'.

    Obviously fantasy offers many more.

    Sorry that they're a bit old, but so am I.
     
  17. SilentRoamer

    SilentRoamer Well-Known Member

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    Alfred Besters: The Stars my Destination aka Tiger Tiger! also has some telepathy in the series.

    I think you are right @Cat's Cradle at least according to the Wiki - Mentalic - Wikipedia I was just sure I remembered Telepathy but now I think on it it was more influence than perception. I think that holds true for Daneel and the Gaiai concept in general as well.
     
  18. dannymcg

    dannymcg I am not a robot

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  19. Galactic Journey

    Galactic Journey The Traveler

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    John Campbell, editor of Astounding (later Analog) was inordinately fond of psychic stories. Virtually every issue from the late 1950s onward has got a story involving mind-reading.

    Garrett/Janifer's Sweet Little Old Lady Series features a charmingly crazy woman who is a telepath.
     
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  20. AlexH

    AlexH Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much everyone. :)
     
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