I read a pretty interesting sci-fi paperback a few years ago and am trying to come up with a name.
The story is set in the future where humans are out running around on new planets. One planet they find has these little alien critters. The problem is when a human touches one of these critters, the dude is overwhelmed with psychic force and dies from the trauma. However, each successive touch is less deadly. Eventually, mankind decides to harness these critters by accepting suicide volunteers to go out and kill themselves (thereby earning their family members some cash) and softening up the impact of the space critters.
A human can use these softened-up space critters to gain psychic powers of their own. A number of main characters use the critters to get psychic powers. At one point, a couple of people have weird psychic sex, although they find it overwhelming and confusing.
Eventually, a new alien race comes along that ends being a major threat to the human race. Humanity ends up fighting the powerful aliens, but to no avail. It turns out that these new aliens were also psychic. The reason they were so hostile to humanity was that they saw into human minds and acted out how the humans expected the aliens to behave. In other words, since the humans feared the aliens and assumed they were dangerous, the aliens figured the way humans preferred to be interacted with was via violence and destruction.
Anyway, the really fun part of the book was that each chapter was written in a completely different format. For example, one chapter may be from the first-person perspective of a main character. The next may be a third-person perspective on a alien critter. The next chapter may be an advertisement about the suicide opportunity. The next chapter may be voice chat between two main characters. Etc. etc.
Anyone know what I'm talking about?