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My father (now deceased) once described a sci-fi book/story he'd read about some guy who keeps coming under psychic attack from mysterious persons (other psychics).

My impression is that the guy is an undeveloped/weak/unaware psychic at the beginning, but as he survives each attack from other psychics (who consider him a threat), he becomes more and more powerful.

I'm fairly sure he would have read this sometime BEFORE 1974, most likely some time in the 60s.

I know that's not much to go on...

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  • I think I recall this one. Does he see other psychics having sparks around them?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 11:34
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    Would you know the correct answer if someone posted it? Commented May 14, 2023 at 13:19
  • 2
    @OrganicMarble - Yes, as it turns out. Commented May 15, 2023 at 14:13
  • @Valorum - I don't remember that detail, but I think Mike Stone has it solved. Is the story/novel you were thinking of worth reading, in your opinion? If so, what's the name? Commented May 15, 2023 at 14:14

4 Answers 4

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Could it be Frank M Robinson's The Power?

The hero is being stalked by just one "superman" rather than several, but otherwise it's close. The superman makes several attempts to kill him, all of which fail by narrow margins. At the end, he finds that he himself is a superman, but never knew it until his latent powers were activated by the repeated attacks. This enables him to kill his persecutor - and go off planning to behave much like the other one.

The book was written in the 50s, and made into a movie in the 70s.

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  • Mr. Robinson also wrote "Waiting" (1999) about a species of "Power"-type supermen living secretly among humans. Commented May 14, 2023 at 16:40
  • I'm pretty sure that's it! My memory was off on the number of people attacking the main character, but now that you mention it, I think it may have been just one attacker. The rest of your description fits my recollection of my dad's description perfectly. This is one of those things that pops in my head from time to time, and now I can go read it and mark this one off. Thank you so much! Commented May 15, 2023 at 14:10
  • Good. I particularly like the twist ending. Adam Hart had been hounding Tanner because he detected the latent power and did not want a competitor. Yet in the end it was his persecution which awakened it, so that Hart himself had created the very danger that he feared. Poetic justice.
    – Mike Stone
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 6:55
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This is another answer where I'm going solely by memory....the question made me think of The Darkness on Diamondia by Van Vogt.

There's an officer who's sent to the planet Diamondia to oversee the planned withdrawal of Terran Security forces from it, basically abandoning the Diamondia colonists in a war against the alien natives. Almost as soon as he lands he is subject to psychic attacks (The Darkness) at regular intervals.

Eventually him and another officer learn the natives have mental powers and various shenanigans occur as they struggle to overcome the attacks...some mental exercise called 'finite logic' is used to prevail but I'm not sure how it worked (the book was read approx 40 years ago!)

If anyone can get a decent link then feel free to edit

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Not all the details match up, but what came to mind for me was The Whole Man by John Brunner:

After an unspecified crisis in a near-future England where telepathy has been discovered, the authorities discover Gerald Howson, a physically deformed youth with greater telepathic power than has ever been seen before. The novel details Howson's struggles to come to grips with his power and his deformity.

It's a fixup novel, and the first episode involves a powerful telepath whose psychosis has trapped various other people in his fantasy world. Howson uses his abilities to overpower the other telepath and free everyone. As the novel progresses, we see Howson's growth as a therapist.

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This is a very wide sort of description, one that would fit an awful lot of books out there. The one that seemed to fit, to me, was Jack of Eagles (1952) by James Blish.

Danny Caiden is on the run - from the FBI, the SEC, the Justice Department and the Mob. Only recently, Danny was an average New York copywriter, until he suddenly found he had ESP. His knowledge of the future is astonishing, and the rest of Danny's powers are just beginning. But someone has plans for Danny: a mysterious group of sinister men bent on world domination. They'll stop at nothing until they capture Danny . . . or destroy him. For only Danny Caiden has the power to sabotage their diabolical tyranny. Through no fault of his own, he has found himself at the centre of a shattering psychic struggle for the future of humanity. In the final battle, Danny must master all of his powers, or sacrifice himself - and all mankind - to satanic slavery forever.

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