"Perhaps even our souls are weighed down by gravity."—Quess Pariah, Chars Counterattack.
"We need no language. We can project our thoughts long distances."—Alpha, Cat-Women of the Moon
Space travellers and extraterrestrials are often telepathic. This has two advantages: 1) We assume they can "think" to others in a way that the recipients' minds will translate into their own language, an elegant version of Translator Microbes for communicating with people from different planets. 2) By some absurd Applied Phlebotinum it is assumed that telepathic communication is instantaneous anywhere in the universe, allowing instant communication across the light-years.
In many far-future science fiction stories, movies and games, it is assumed that human evolution will eventually result in the development of Psychic Powers for the entire human race. As most of those same stories involve space travel, this could be interpreted as humanity becoming the telepathic spacemen.
- The Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century continuity has Newtypes who can, among other things, communicate with each other telepathically. It's initially assumed that this is the result of humans evolving to adapt to living in space.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 also uses this trope with the Innovators, a group of angrogenes who were created to lead mankind to the stars. They don't seem to be very good at this, considering so far all they've used their powers for are killing.
- Then we have the appearance of the "true" Innovators, evolved humans rather than engineered clones. Their telepathy is more powerful, and with the presence of large amounts of GN Particles, can telepathically connect everyone within the field. One of them (Setsuna) even uses these powers to communicate and broker a treaty with a group of Starfish Aliens called the ELS. The epilogue implies that the entire human race is slowly transforming into Innovators.
- The mages of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, who possess Magitek that allow casual travel between planets and can telepathically communicate with each other as a basic ability.
- The Nameks from Dragon Ball are stated to have this role. As are the Yadrat, according to Goku.
- Tony the alien from Area 51 in Axis Powers Hetalia at one point seems to transfer his thoughts full of offensive language to England when America introduces them to each other. America, since he did not hear it, thinks they are getting along fine.
- In Vandread, Hibiki encounters a group of humans in an asteroid belt who have the ability to communicate telepathically. They can't speak normally, because Earth stole their voices.
- In Heroic Age, some species are capable of telepathy, most notably the Silver Tribe, who use it extensively as a means of communication, and even politics.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Martian Manhunter and Saturn Girl, among others, in The DCU.
- Top Ten's Glusko the Spaceman is a former Kosmonaut who got his telepathy during a space mission. He also has a telepathic space chimp named Tanya.
- Guardians of the Galaxy's Cosmo the dog, who became a telepathic space alien (by 'citizenship' if not birth) in a couple of issues of Nova when he was sent out on a Soviet space probe. He has a Russian accent.
- Allen the Alien from Invincible, as well as Viltrumites and other aliens capable of unassisted space flight.
- In Independence Day, the aliens are said to communicate with each other via "some kind of extra-sensory perception." They don't seem able to manipulate or read human minds at a distance, though one alien controls a dead scientist through physical contact in order to speak with the main characters.
Literature[edit | hide]
- The Stainless Steel Rat. Communication is handled by professional "Psimen" who send telepathic telegrams (telepathegrams) across the universe to other psimen on your own planet who then phone your message in to your boss for you. For a fee, obviously.
- The Andalites from Animorphs, as well as anyone who uses their morphing technology (which is a nice work-around for the issue of "How can your team communicate when everyone is a rat"). The first book seems to indicate that normal humans can do this too, as long as they focus and the recipient is in morph, and that one can broadcast images as well as verbal communication this way, but neither of these ever come up again.
- Christopher Stasheff's Warlock novels have this in reverse; the Lost Colony of Gramarye is presently a medieval-level society, but eventually they will go into space (there's an entire Time Travel war going on over it), at which point their telepaths will revolutionize interstellar communication.
- The catlike Kzin from Larry Niven's Known Space Universe had a rare subspecies of telepath who facilitate contact with alien races (mainly calls for them to surrender, since the Kzin are Proud Warrior Race Guys). The telepaths, thought enormously useful, are not allowed to breed and are generally despised because they require an addictive drug to activate their powers.
- E. E. "Doc" Smith used this heavily in his Lensman series, making this Older Than Television, and nearly as old as the entire concept of interstellar travel. Most of the really powerful intelligent species in the galaxy are telepaths- some of them make humans look distinctly puny by comparison. However, sufficiently competent members (usually the result of a long breeding program) of any species may wear a Lens, a device which allows them to communicate telepathically. Oh, and understand any language. And crack codes effortlessly. And... well, let's just say it gets more out of hand from there. The Lens serves as the ultimate Translator Microbes and Mind Probe.
- The Rowan series by Anne McCaffrey has psychics as not only the means of communication between colonized star systems, but also the means of transportation (via psychokinetic teleport) that makes such colonies possible to begin with. From the point of view of the Mrdini, who have no psychics of their own, humans are the telepathic spacemen.
- Time for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein is all about a spaceship that exploits the idea that telepathy is instantaneous.
- In Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe, R. Daneel Olivaw is a telepathic space robot.
- The Sector General series has two species of empaths, long-range emotion detectors of varying sensitivity. Others are telepathic. This is presented as an entirely biological process, the concept having apparently been more plausible back in the day, and several storylines revolve around telepathic capabilities that have been damaged, stuck on, or which come with side effects. Humans possess a vestigial, atrophied capacity for telepathy and can sometimes be contacted. The feeling is compared to having one's brain worked with a wire brush.
- Stephen King's Dreamcatcher has telepathic aliens coming to Earth. Thing is, their telepathy is contagious. It appears at the end that the aliens themselves may not even be sapient in their own right, instead telepathically taking on the traits of sapience expected of them by the humans.
- The Insect race in Andrey Livadny's The History Of The Galaxy series communicates with one another (and anyone else) using natural telepathic abilities. They are also able to use those abilities to stun opponents with a mental strike and probe them for information. Certain humans, while lacking full-blown telepathy, can form empathic bonds with others; however, this requires special circumstances. Also, since every human is from birth implanted with a small chip that is used to remotely control household appliances and the like, certain individuals who have been implanted with multiple chips are able to read other's thoughts with the use of the chips.
- Interesting example in Ender's Game, where the Buggers have Hive Minds.
- The Dune series is filled with these since the Spice grants psychic abilities. The ones that most fulfill this trope however are the Steersmen and Navigators of the Spacing Guild, who use their abilities to see the future and to guide the ships.
- Handled relatively realistically in The Vorkosigan Saga: telepathy results from a random mutation, and is refined through successive generations of genetic engineering. The telepaths are limited in range, their ability to read minds is blocked by even thin pieces of metal and confused when there are many minds or sources of electronic noise in the area, and they can read some minds far better than others.
- The Alex Benedict series has the alien Ashiyyur, commonly known as the Mutes. Their telepathic abilities only work within a range of a few meters, however; and they can only hear thoughts, not broadcast them. They also have considerably more difficulty reading human thoughts than they do communicating with each other.
- Mork and Mindy "Mork calling Orson, Mork Calling Orson." "One moment, Mork, I'm taking a call on another brain cell." Even Mindy can do this, by holding Mork's nose and putting her finger in his ear.
- The Tomorrow People: The Galactic Federation, a space collective of telepathic species, sends communications to the human Tomorrow People via telepathy. Due to the distances involved, the messages are usually received by a telepathic computer instead of directly, except in desperate cases.
- Early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation gave The Empath Deanna Troi the ability to communicate telepathically with Riker. This was dropped later on though. Betazeds can telepathically communicate with each other; Luwaxana prefers this but Deanna considers it rude to do when among species that can't pick up on it.
- Also, the first pilot of the original Star Trek, The Cage, features the Professor X-level telepathic Talosians, making the first Trek aliens ever (other than Spock, that is) Telepathic Spacemen. They weren't nearly as nice as most of the other examples here, though. Star Trek regularly uses telepathic species. Vulcans are touch-telepaths; they can't communicate over distances, but Spock has used a mind-meld to communicate with aliens on occasion. And then there's the katra business, using a mind-meld to cheat death.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. Trip and T'Pol find their "intimate relationship" has unexpected consequences when they find themselves sharing the same daydream, despite being on completely different starships.
- The Doctor can do what seems to all intents and purposes a Vulcan mindmeld and other telepathic feats, such as memory-wiping also by touching the subject's temples... sometimes. It's annoying.
- And, in emergencies, giving people an instant infodump by means of a Glasgow kiss. (Banging foreheads.)
- Babylon 5 has telepaths in nearly every alien species, as well as humans. Turns out Vorlons Did It. They're so touchy.
- Something Is Out There (a short-lived sci-fi series on NBC). The alien protagonist Ta'Ra is telepathic; unfortunately she's also a hot chick so she's constantly annoyed over how these Earth people want to "do that with her body" (her species has a somewhat different way of making love).
- Orsian twin pairs from Tracker.
- Astropaths in Warhammer 40,000 are the Imperium's only method of communicating over stellar distances. Unfortunately, since the transmission medium is essentially a cross between Hyperspace and Hell, they tend to live unhappy (and short) existences. The Astronomican beacon they use to navigate is Powered by a Forsaken Child, it burns through the lives of ten thousand psykers every month. Psykers have to undergo a process called soul-binding which causes them hours of agony at the hands of their Physical God, invariably destroys their sight, and often other sense, and sends large numbers of candidates insane; all in order to be able to pass messages safely without getting dragged into the Warp when they send messages. Or, for that matter, that if you're found by the psyker-hunting Black Ships, you have around a 90% chance of being 'selected' to undergo this honour. GrimDark indeed...
- The Zhodani are an empire ruled by telepaths in Traveller.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Both the Ethereals from X-COM: UFO Defence (who aren't REALLY ethereal) and the Re'Lu from Deadlock are telepathic aliens - whose access privilege to your brain includes both read and write, incidentally.
- In fact, many of the species from the X-COM series are telepathic. Sectoids are budget versions of the Ethereals psionics-wise, then there's the giant Psimorphs from X-COM: Apocalypse. The species from X-COM: Terror From The Deep essentially use telepathy but it's called "Molecular Control" and works via implanted chips.
- A number of psi-weapons are specifically designed to amplify telepathic projection to injure, confuse, or control creatures in the X-COM games as well. Which makes senses... up until the ship-mounted psi-blasters of X-COM Interceptor. Huh?
- Similarly the mind worms in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. These tiny little white things stun you from afar, burrow through your skull and lay their eggs in your brain. They move in enormous swarms called boils. They appear (in a hard sci-fi setting) a few decades after humans land on the planet and have no other prey, causing mankind to realize that it might just be in trouble here.
- The Vell-Os in Escape Velocity Nova's are telepathic post-humans who fly in shells of solid telepathic energy. There are also the Polaris, who are less powerful telepaths with technologies at least a century in advance of the rest of humanity, and use both of those things to back up their isolationism. And then there is the masters of the Heron-style of martial arts, who also appear to develop a sort of telepathy. It is left uncertain just how much this trope will apply to the rest of humanity, not because humanity won't develop species-wide psychic powers (that is made clear) but because it might not happen until the point just before they all Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, leaving the 'spacemen' thing far behind them.
- The Furons in Destroy All Humans!, who can do Mind Probe, Mind Control, and Mind Over Matter.
- Not sure if this really counts, but the Word of God for Sonic the Hedgehog states that powers like Silver's telekinesis and Blaze's pyrokinesis are a common occurrence two-hundred years into the series' future. Although it was 2006 that promoted the concept, it might still hold true for the Sonic Rivals series. (And although space travel hasn't become a common occurrence yet, humans of the series have quite advanced space technology as it is.)
- The Protoss in StarCraft fit this to a tee. The humans are also apparently in the "developing into the telepathic race" stage, and the zerg have their own, different forms of telepathy too.
- The godlike humanoid Kamir in OtherSpace utilized their blindingly powerful telepathy to help them search for appropriate lifeforms for their evolutionary experiments.
- The Martian Xeno Teleptaths in Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds.
- Elgyem and Beheeyem from Pokémon Black and White are Psychic-type aliens.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Leono from Sluggy Freelance has this ability, though it only works among his own species and is only really displayed once.
- In Outsider, the Loroi are galactically (in?)famous for this; protagonist Alexander Jardin realizes that he is on a Loroi ship by observing a nonverbal communication.
- Most species in Vexxarr are telepathic, which makes sense since many of them are Space People who need to be able to communicate through hard vacuum.
Web Original[edit | hide]
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, there aren't any inherently telepathic alien species; that said, the Tautiq and the Pelkons are both more likely to acquire Psychic Powers than humans are, and are less likely to be driven mad by those powers. Xorn and Delethai, on the other hand, are even less likely than humans to gain such powers.