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Here's what I remember about the book:

  1. It was published in the 1980's as a mass market paperback.
  2. The cover features people in white jumpsuits.
  3. One of the telepathic characters is a professional/olympic? swimmer. The authorities trick her into betraying herself by imagining that they are pounding on her door. When she responds, they know she is a telepath.
  4. Another character is a young orphan boy with a habit of hiding food for later.

Does anyone remember the title/author of this novel?

  • It's possibly a spin off from The Tomorrow People first released as a UK TV series in 1973. Wyndham is a significant influence though, first encapsulating the theme "what if a superior child / race of children existed" He revisits it in several novels and short stories including "Child of Power" (Fantasy, Number 3, 1939), Midwich Cuckoos 1957, The Chrysalids 1955 and Chocky (1963) - sometimes telepathy is a result or part of the experience (Chocky). If you read Wyndham you will understand how far his influence goes - Nazi saucers, alien hybrids, Tesla's discoveries... written 60+ years ago! – Applefanboy Sep 1 '16 at 10:49
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Probably not your book unless it was a re-print or retelling of the same story, but it sounds a lot like John Wyndham's novel "The Chrysalids" originally published in 1955 (which incidentally inspired the song "Crown Of Creation" by Jefferson Airplane in 1968). Telepaths were hunted down as the "new witches" of the post-apocaplyptic future; they banded together in small tribes.

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    Er, that's not a very accurate description of The Chrysalids. In that book, a post-apocalyptic society destroyed all mutations, but was only aware of physical ones: the narrator and his fellow telepaths escaped precisely because the society had no idea about telepaths. There was certainly nothing about "new witches". – Daniel Roseman May 14 '12 at 12:11
  • I also thought of "The Chrysalids" when I saw the title. It is similar to your description, but not quite. Chrysalids lite? – Schroedingers Cat May 14 '12 at 13:24
  • @Daniel - probably should not have put that in quotes. What I was referring to was how the persecutors were very akin to the Quaker religious zealots who would hunt down and burn witches (well hang them actually in the USA; burn them in Europe). The term "new witch" meant to be persecuted and have someone point a finger at you in a nearly Monty-Python manner and say "She's / He's a witch! Burn them!" exactly as you pointed out as they did to all mutations. You are right that the main enclave of telepaths escaped, although I am pretty sure that other pockets of telepaths did not. Correct? – AJotr May 15 '12 at 4:28
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    @AJotr I'd like to know more about those Quaker religious zealots who were hunting witches in the USA. Reference? – user14111 Dec 26 '13 at 0:08
  • @AJotr I think he's confusing them with the Puritans in Massachusetts. The Quakers were in Pennsylvania and as far as I know didn't engage in witch hunts. – Mike Stone Mar 6 '18 at 12:45

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