esper n.

a person or being with extrasensory powers

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1942 E. E. Smith Storm Cloud on Deka in Astonishing Stories Nov. 54/2 page image Edward E. Smith

    I'm neither a Lensman nor an esper, but I'd swear that somebody’s peeking over my shoulder half the time.

  • 1950 A. Bester Devil’s Invention in Astounding Science Fiction Aug. 139/1 Alfred Bester bibliography

    ‘How does he do it?’ ‘I don’t know… Tell me how Espers do it.’

  • 1952 A. Bester in Galaxy Science Fiction Jan. 13/1 Alfred Bester bibliography

    The court is cognizant of the fact that Extra Sensory Experts perform valuable services for society in many walks of life…the Esper Medical Doctor, the Esper Attorney, the Esper Educator, the Esper Criminologist…to mention only a few; yet the Esper expert cannot properly be admitted to any court to give Esper evidence for the record. [both ellipses in original]

  • 1955 G. O. Smith Highways in Hiding in Imagination Mar. ii. 13/2 George O. Smith

    Most medicos are highgrade espers, not telepaths. Reading the mind of a patient is not very effective, because the average patient has no real idea of what is wrong with him. An esper digs the trouble out without having his mind all fogged up by some layman’s opinion of what causes the ache and pain.

  • 1968 A. Norton Zero Stone (1977) v. 68 Andre Norton

    No man can laugh at the idea of esper powers, as the so-called enlightened once did.

  • 1970 A. Norton Dread Companion (1980) 24 Andre Norton

    He shook his head, his frown deeper. ‘No, it is true—how could you have known? The matter was only reported to me this morning after the flitter was found. Only a few knew it. But how did she know? Is she esper?’ His suggestion was logical, though I had never known so young an esper to be able to hide such power.

  • 1972 J. Blish Star Trek 8 89 James Blish

    It is a fact some people can sense future events, read the backs of playing cards and so on. But the Esper ability is always quite limited.

  • 1978 R. Lupoff Lupoff’s Book Week in Algol Nov. 48/2

    He goes to an institute where espers are trained, and consents to participate in an experiment whereby the personality of a dying person is imprinted on the mind of a telepathic recipient.

  • 1984 M. Z. Bradley World Wreckers 22 Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    No machine is proof against an esper. You’ve been winning too damned often.

  • 1990 D. Duane Doctor’s Orders iii. 73 Diane Duane bibliography

    There was no direct way to test esper ratings in a new species.

  • 1991 C. Stasheff Warlock & Son 31

    Fury struck, anger at the witch who had mangled his son. The world about him dimmed as Rod concentrated on the spell, the compulsion imposed on his son, which had twisted his perceptions into seeing himself as a snake, and made him project his own delusion into other people’s minds—with all the titanic strength of the hybrid esper he was.

  • 2010 M. A. Martin Seize the Fire 484 page image Michael A. Martin bibliography

    ‘I sense... a great deal of activity in the commander’s brain,’ Troi said. ‘I apologize. I didn’t mean to intrude.’ ‘Not at all. Vulcan thoughts and emotions can be difficult for esper species to avoid sensing.’

Research requirements

antedating 1942

Earliest cite

E.E. Smith, "Storm Cloud on Deka"

Research History
Brian Ameringen suggested Bester's 1952 novel "The Demolished Man", and Mike Christie then found a citation.
Jeff Wolfe submitted a cite from a reprint of Alfred Bester's "Oddy and Id", and Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1950 original appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a 1980 reprint of Andre Norton's 1970 "Dread Companion".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1991 cite from Christopher Stasheff's "Warlock and Son".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of George O. Smith's "Highways in Hiding"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1955 first magazine appearance.
Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from a 1977 reprint of Andre Norton's 1968 "The Zero Stone".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1978 cite from a book review by Richard Lupoff.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1942 cite from "Storm Cloud on Deka" by E.E. Smith.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2010 cite from Michael A. Martin.

Last modified 2021-10-08 19:32:54
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.