Telempath by Spider Robinson
TelempathIsham Stone grew up in a different world than his parents. His scientist father’s partner released a chemical that changed everyone’s smelling sensory system. Hypersensitivity in smelling ruins cities. Those who didn’t die have moved to the country. Jacob Stone started a small community away from the cities and vilified his partner, Wendell Carlson. Jacob teaches Isham to hate Carlson for his crime against humanity. Now Isham is heading into the city assassinate Carlson.
Increased smelling acuity added another problem – Muskies were real, not ghosts. They are ephemeral beings that were only guessed at until people could smell them. The war between the Muskies and humans started. Stone’s community, Fresh Start, manufactures the weapons that can kill the Muskies. After Isham returns from the city, completing his mission, he has a new respect for Muskies. How can he convince his community that the Muskies can be friends rather than enemies.
After Jacob dies, Isham’s life gets more complicated. Can he convince Fresh Start and the local farmers that they need to work together? And more, pull the Muskies into their lives as well?
I have heard reviewers compare Spider Robinson to Robert A. Heinlein. In fact, Robinson finished Heinlein’s novel Variable Star. While I had seen Heinlein’s influence in Robinson’s work, Telempath has a lot of similarities. The tone for Isham’s first person narrative reminds me of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer or Farnham’s Freehold.
Although I enjoyed the tone of Telempath, the story is fairly average. I like Robinson’s ideas, but they don’t gel together into a strong story. Telempath is an apocalyptic tale after mankind cannot live too closely together due to odors. They are learning how to control the problem, but super sensitivity to smell is more of a problem than I would have imagined. Again, I liked the ideas and the story. It is interesting and I liked the tone. It’s not strong but kept my attention.
(Robinson’s back to nature and hippie roots show up heavily in this. Isham lives in a commune, smokes marijuana regularly, and believes in free love.)
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations