So, you’d like to be telepathic?
Posted March 16, 2011on:
Secret Thoughts, by Guy Hasson
Published: 2011 from Apex Books
Where I got it: received eARC for review
why I read it: cuz telepaths are cool!!
In Guy Hasson’s Secret Thoughts, he envisions a near future where telepathy is real. Where through touch, a telepath knows everything you’re thinking, from what you want for dinner to your deepest secrets. Fiction involving telepathy is nothing new, but rarely have I run into fiction that depicts the discovery and immediate reaction to telepaths from the telepath’s point of view. With two short stories and a novella, Secret Thoughts focuses on individuals who are dealing with their gifts, and dealing with how the public and the government perceives them.
The three stories should be read in order, as I get the impression they take place in chronological order. The characters are all regular (other than being telepathic) people, and it’s amazing to watch through their eyes how quickly the government goes from being fascinated by telepaths to being horrified by them. It put me in mind a little bit of the telepath characters from Babylon5 – once a child’s telepathic abilities show up, the government takes control of the child’s future, for better or for worse.
All three stories are incredibly unique and even a day or two after reading I’m still surprised at the deep levels of intimacy, and not just physical intimacy. But when dealing with deep, pure emotions, what else should I have expected?
Along with Hasson’s candid style of writing, these stories are so unique because his telepathic characters are coming into contact with beings that aren’t people anymore, yet, or at all. These are not the easiest stories to read, at times you’ll be uncomfortable, you’ll squirm. Still, you should read them. Here are some of my thoughts on the individual stories.
The Perfect Girl
Alexandra starts her education at The Institute. If she graduates she’ll work for the government and be able to return to public life. She knows the graduation rate is very small, and it’s implied students who don’t graduate will be institutionalized. The first lesson the students are taught is that telepathy is the search for the truth, even when that is the last thing people want to hear. The students are also taught how to pull thoughts from the recently deceased. Assigned a job in the morgue, Alexandra accidentally bonds with a recently deceased teenager. Through touch, Alexandra is able to experience everything the dead girl experienced: her depressive and manipulative mother, her distant father who trivializes everything, the older boyfriend who leaves her. As Alexandra fights with her obsession over the girl, she must come to grips with what is emotion, and what is truth.
Rachel Ackerman has been living under an assumed name for years. She escaped the destruction of The Institute, and so long as no one discovers she is a telepath, she can just live her life. But someone does know. And they need her. Convinced (blackmailed) to use her gift to help in a way no one else can, Rachel is brought to a government installation and introduced to Charlie. Charlie doesn’t speak English, or any earthly language. We don’t even know if he’s a he. Rachel is in the unique position of being able to make first contact with an extra terrestrial. Through touch, Rachel will feel everything Charlie feels. As she struggles with how to interpret these alien emotions and thoughts, her brain translates them into experiences she will understand. The experiences are traumatic to say the least, and not easy to read. But if Rachel wants to live, she will have to experience these horrific things over and over and over again until she has a breakthrough with Charlie.
Most Beautiful Intimacy
Women who are telepaths have been warned against pregnancy. It’s been documented that once they get a telepathic link with the fetus, insanity and death have always followed.
Living up in the mountains, away from civilization, off the grid, Michael and his telepath wife Susan have been living up in the mountains and off the grid since the government started rounding up telepaths. For two years they’ve done everything they can to avoid pregnancy. Of course, accidents happen, and Susan conceives. Should they contact Michael’s doctor friend for an abortion? Attempt to keep the baby? As with everything they do, they are off the grid and on their own.
Susan convinces Michael that she can safely experience pregnancy for three months, and then they will call his doctor friend to perform an abortion. Susan can’t “not” touch it, but the fetus doesn’t have a brain,doesn’t have a mind yet, so how can she read it’s emotions? Imagine if you felt every nerve developing, every bone being built, if you knew everything the baby growing inside you was going through. Susan has to continually fight to keep her mind and her emotions separate from the fetus’s, because as Michael reminds her, the baby doesn’t think about breathing, and it’s heart beats much faster than hers. Three months come and go, and they argue about what to do. Although Susan is glowing, Michael has never felt further away from her.
Secret Thoughts is available through Apex Books, and you can read samples of the stories on their website. The e-book is available now, and the print version will be ready soon. I like Apex, they do good stuff, and plenty of it, with plenty of good folks. Go Check ‘em out.