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There's a novel that I read years ago for which I can no longer remember the author or the title.

The only things I can remember are...

  1. It was about mental powers, telepathy, etc

  2. Children developed these abilities naturally at or about puberty (I think). If I remember correctly, the general populace/government reacted badly to these children.

    • The setting was modern day, so nothing overly futuristic.
  3. There was a woman scientist who studied these children and came up with a way to synthesise the catalyst, which she then tried on herself and after a really rough transition, found that she had the same abilities.

    • I've also got a vague recollection (so take it with a grain of salt) that other adults who tried to gain these powers died.
  4. The initial symptom of these powers was an increase in sensory perception and intense pleasure - enough to lock the affected person into repeating whatever felt good regardless of what it was doing to them.

    • The woman scientist/doctor who managed to synthesise the activating chemical and used it on herself ended up "making love" to a tree (I've got a dim memory of the description of the feel of the bark against her naked skin).

    • Another scene (probably just a paragraph or sentence) had a description of a boy who kept "pleasuring himself" for hours; even though he was now raw and bleeding, he couldn't stop. (I think this was one of the notes the scientist/doctor compiled about the affected children, rather than being a central theme or character development).

    • The powers allowed the children to feel the emotions of others (though I do not remember if it was limited to others with powers or everyone in general) and they banded together to feel safe/loved/etc when the rest of the world turned against them due to fear. I don't remember if it was true telepathy or just extreme empathy.

  5. Once she had the same abilities as the children, the woman scientist joined up with a group of them - presumably to help defend them against the haters.

Beyond that, I have no idea. The only other non-story items I know are...

  • I read it late-70's or early 80's.
  • Given the more grown-up content, it is not likely to be a children's book; though it could be teens and older.
  • Someone recently suggested The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. It's not the book I'm looking for, but given how in 1957 Wyndham needed to write about sexuality using misdirection, subtext, irony and ambiguity, it is likely that the book I am looking for was written in the 60s or 70s.

I know it's not much to go on, but it's been driving me potty trying to remember the title.

I do know that it is not any of the following:

  • The Tomorrow People by Roger Price
  • The Inner Wheel by Keith Roberts
  • A Coming of Age by Timothy Zahn
  • The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  • The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham
  • Emerald Eyes by Daniel Keyes Moran
  • Children of Morrow by H.M. Hoover
  • More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
  • Welcome, Chaos by Kate Wilhelm
  • 1
    The first three points sort of remind me of the television series the Tomorrow people from around about the 70's. Point 4 where they experience pleasure does not match my memory of the show but i believe there were some spin off novels written that may match. I've never read the books so it's an outside chance at best. – user22225 Apr 23 '18 at 9:24
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    Sorry @user22225, it's definitely not the Tomorrow People. I have the DVDs and the spin-off novels. That was a kid's show, the novel I'm looking for was more adult than that. – Teryl V Apr 23 '18 at 18:22
  • Emerald Eyes by Daniel Keyes Moran would be a great match, except the woman scientist in that never gains the powers of the children. Nor is there the sex with the tree or pathological masturbation. – Todd Wilcox Mar 27 at 9:43
  • Thanks @Todd Wilcox, but that's not the one either. The kids are not created explicitly by the government, they're more of a new mutation. – Teryl V Mar 27 at 18:19
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Are you sure that they gained the mental powers at puberty? Or was that when they lost them?

If the latter it could be Timothy Zahn's A Coming of Age. In that book, the mental powers appear at about age five but disappear at puberty. In the first generation on the planet, the all-powerful infants wrecked society and initiated a dark age. However, when it became evident that the powers were only temporary, the adults were able to enlist the help of the 11-12yos who were about to revert to normal, and restored order,forcing the children into "hives" where they could be kept under control.

  • 3
    Sorry, @Mike, the kids/teens definitely gained powers. I haven't read Timothy Zahn's novel. – Teryl V Apr 23 '18 at 18:42

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