Tomorrow People

The Tomorrow People was originally a TV series made in the 70s, then there was a remake in the 90s, with basically the same concept: the Tomorrow People are the next stage of human evolution, with Psi powers and an inability to kill -- the last best hope for humanity, if they can survive.

Psi Powers

I know someone on the TPDIS mailing list was compiling a list of all known books and movies featuring psi powers, but I don't think they ever put it on the net. This is not a complete list: I'm limiting it to only those things I've actually read myself.

  • "The Stars My Destination" aka "Tiger! Tiger!" by Alfred Bester. This is where the word "jaunt" to mean "teleport" comes from.
  • "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester (very intelligent use of telepathy)
  • "The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham (telepathic mutants in a post-apocalyptic repressive society - a classic)
  • "Children of Morrow" (by i-forget-the-author) was so similar in scenario to "The Chrysalids" that I felt it ripped it off.
  • the People stories by Zenna Henderson (telepathic and other-gifted human-like alien survivors in early 20th-century mid-Western USA; lovely gentle stories about being Different)
  • "Enchantress From The Stars" and "Far Side of Evil" by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (about Elana, an anthropologist from an advanced civilization where everyone has psi powers)
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series is set on the planet Darkover, a "lost colony" where, thousands of years after the landing, the culture is divided into the psi-gifted aristocracy, the "Comyn" (who tend to have red hair) and the non-gifted commoners. And then the Terran Federation rediscover the planet... This has a lovely feel of science-fantasy, with the rich cultural traditions of Darkover clashing with the sceptical technophile Terrans.
  • The "Hanish" novels by Ursula K Le Guin: "Rocannon' s World", "Planet of Exile", "City of Illusions" different characters in these, but they all deal with Mindspeech in one way or another.
  • the Firebird trilogy by Kathy Tyers (warring space civilizations, with a minority race with some psi powers. Romance between enemies.)
  • the Psion trilogy by ?Joan D Vinge (Cat, a half-human, half-alien orphan, grew up on the streets... and is a very powerful telepath.)
  • "Jumper" by Steven Gould (about a boy who discovers he can teleport, and runs away from his abusive father... and into complications. Set present-day.) There is a sequel called "Reflex".
  • The Blossom of Erda by L.A. Taylor (an SF romance set on alien planets, which involves a telepathic/empathic bond)
  • Project Farcry by Pauline Ashwell has a hero who discovers he has telepathy as a boy when accompanying his father on a planetary survey team, communicates with the native short-lived mantis-like aliens...
  • the Pegasus books, starting with "To Ride Pegasus" by Anne McCaffrey (nearish-future discovery of psi gifts, and how they fit into society)
  • Anne McCaffrey also wrote the dragon books, where dragon and rider share a telepathic bond; science-fantasy set on an alien planet. The first six books are the best, after that, don't bother.
  • Andre Norton also wrote a fair few novels which featured psi powers, though some are better than others, and they're written for a kid/teenage audience, really. Avoid anything written after 1980.
  • Mercedes Lackey has also written a fair few novels which have telepathy (as part of magic, or as part of a magical bond) Her stuff is also more for teenagers -- I read it as an adult and couldn't stand it; she has a way of making magic feel boring.
  • James H. Schmitz wrote a series of novels about Telezy Amberdon, a telepath who works as an agent (in a far-future space setting) YA/Teen novels. Some are available from in the Baen Free Library.
  • I hadn't considered "The Midwitch Cuckoos" by John Wyndham to be in this class, but someone pointed out, that not only did the "cuckoos" of the title (children born to the women of Midwitch after a mysterious event) have some sort of telepathy between themselves, but this could also be considered to be an example of the possible conflict between homo sapiens and homo superior. Rather chilling.
  • "Jack of Eagles" by James Blish is an adventuresome story not only involving psi powers, but conspiracies and parallel realities.
  • "And Chaos Died" by Joanna Russ I didn't like at all, though it does deal interestingly enough with one of the problems of a telepathic society -- if you can't block anyone out, what happens to individuality?
  • "Chocky" by John Wyndham doesn't have so much psi powers, but an alien talking telepathically to a child (and the consequences thereof). Done in a rather chilling manner, as it's told from the point of view of parents who don't know what's going on, and are very worried about their child -- and the hint that Evil Government Organizations might be sinisterly interested as well... (see also "Other Shows" further down).
  • The Liaden series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is an SF series featuring space-traders, culture clashes, manners, and spies. Some characters have psi powers such as telempathy and the ability to form a bond with their "soul mate".
  • The Harry Potter series included the abilities of Legilimency (mind reading) and Occlumency (mind shielding) which certain powerful wizards were capable of.

A more extensive list can be found at

Kids Saving The World

One aspect of the Tomorrow People was that, for the most part, it was a group of teenagers who more than once worked together and saved the world (or maybe just themselves) from evil villains, with little or no help from adults. This, of course, varied a great deal in its plausibility, and sometimes produced some really stupid episodes. Nonetheless, sometimes it worked -- and sometimes other people have managed to make it work too.

  • Harry Potter is an obvious example!
  • the Deepwater trilogy by Ken Catran. This was apparently made into a TV series, but I don't know how true to the books it was, since I've never seen it.
  • many of Diana Wynne Jones's children's fantasies have child-protagonists who manage to save the day when they realize they are really swans, not ugly ducklings. Particularly good examples of this are "Power of Three", "The Magicians of Caprona" and the Dalemark quartet.

Other Shows

"The Girl From Tomorrow" was an Australian TV serial where a girl from the future accidentally gets transported to present day Sydney. You could say this features both psi powers and kids saving the world, since Alana has a "transducer" which gives her telekinetic powers, and she teams up with two other kids to save the world from the bad guy. There was also a novelization of this. There was a second serial "The Girl From Tomorrow II", which had further adventures, including more time travel.

"Spellbinder" was an Australian TV serial where a teenage protagonist is accidentally transported into a parallel universe, and makes friends with a girl who helps him there, and in the meantime his friends back home try to figure out how to get him back. This also was novelized, into two volumes.

A second serial, "Spellbinder II", featured a different bunch of teenage protagonists, and a machine which hops from universe to universe; very good SF (IMHO better than Sliders).

"Night of the Red Hunter" was a New Zealand TV serial in which two runaways come up against a mystery... and there is some world-saving involved in the end, but to tell you even that much is a bit of a spoiler.

"Babylon 5" has both human and alien telepaths; the human telepaths are forced to join the "Psi Corps" or take a drug which suppresses their abilities. Note that the character "Alfred Bester" is named after the author mentioned above.

"The Others" was a short-lived series about a group of people with psi abilities; this had more emphasis on the occult than on SF explanations of such gifts. Interesting ensemble cast, though.

"Something Is Out There" was both a mini-series and a short-lived TV series which featured a telepathic alien Ta'ra, who was stranded on Earth and hooks up with a down-to-earth cop.

"Roswell" was a TV series based on the first two books of a book series called "Roswell High" which features a bunch of alien teenagers hiding out on Earth; they have "special powers". The TV series departed radically from the book series after that; and then to add confusion, there were also books (called "Roswell" not "Roswell High") written based on the TV series, both set during the series and after it. What I've seen of the series struck me as lots of teen angst with a dollop of SF-strangeness and a slice of hiding from multiple enemies.

"Chocky", "Chocky's Children", "Chocky's Challenge": the first of these was a straight adaption of the John Wyndham novel of the same name (mentioned above). The other two were original sequels following up on the loose ends left by the original. The second one, "Chocky's Children", was rather good, following up on talented (telepathic) children and sinister organizations; the third one was rather unbelievable and a bit too gee-whiz, since it ends up contradicting the concerns put forth in the original story.

There are also a number of SF shows which have had telepaths as one or two characters in the cast:

  • Star Trek (Spock is a touch-telepath, Troi is an empath)
  • Blake's 7 (Cally is a projecting telepath)
  • Doctor Who (some episodes have featured telepaths, also the Doctor himself is somewhat telepathic)