Guy Hasson is an Israeli writer, playwright, and filmmaker. His fiction is predominantly written in English, whilst his stage and film work is written in Hebrew. He is the author of two books published in Israel-a short story collection and a short novel-and he wrote and directed the science fiction feature film Heart of Stone in 2008. He is also a two-time winner of the Israeli Geffen Award for science fiction short stories. You can find more of his work in the anthologies The Apex Book of World Science Fiction and Apexology: Horror.
How can telepaths have sex?
Imagine a world, much like ours, with one difference: Telepaths exist and can read minds when touching the skin of another person with their own skins. Telepaths have to learn how to block it, and blocking it isn’t always easy. It certainly isn’t easy when you’re excited. And in relationships, you get excited a lot (hopefully).
Would you be able to have a relationship with a partner who can read everything you think? Would you be able to have a relationship if you could read the mind of your partner completely? Would you be able to resist not reading your partner’s mind during a fight, during sex, when s/he’s proclaiming his/her love? Would you be insulted by erotic dreams about someone else?
I am the author of Secret Thoughts, a new book just published by the Apex Book Company. In it are three novellas, all of them taking place in the same telepath-ridden world. Three novellas gave me three chances to tackle this problem from three different angles.
The first novella in Secret Thoughts is called “The Perfect Girl“. In it, Alexandra Watson, a young telepath, just out of her teenage years, is having multiple breakdowns. She goes to a special academy for people like her, and is taught by experienced telepaths. At a certain point, one of her teachers takes her out to a restaurant for a little fresh air. She explains the problem:
“You have no privacy when you’re a telepath,” Professor Parks says after we’ve ordered. “Normal people can relish in not knowing. We can’t afford that luxury.
“When your boyfriend makes love to you, he touches you, and you see everything he feels and everything he thinks about you. It’s never as perfect as you would like. It’s ugly and spotty and sketchy. When you’re insecure, you touch him and you know he doesn’t like you as much now as he did yesterday, and that if you tell him what you know, he’ll like you even less. You see the parts about you he can’t stand, and you see the parts he can’t get enough of. You know what he fantasizes about you, and you know when he fantasizes about someone else. And when he makes love to you, you see your body while you’re doing it, and you know that your right breast looks strange, that you gained two pounds, that your legs don’t look flattering from most angles, that you need to shave again, and what your breath smells like. And you know that what he really likes about you is that you remind him of the buxom sixteen-year-old babysitter he used to have when he was a kid, and that, even though he doesn’t know it, he’s still in love with his first girlfriend, with whom he’s never been able to get along.
“And the hard thing is to learn that it’s always like this. Even ‘as good as it can possibly get’ is like this. You have to learn that this is the truth, and that this is normal. You have to abandon the lies when you’re a telepath and start living in the real world.”
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
“The Linguist” is the second novella in Secret Thoughts. In it, the heroine is thrust into a high-pressure work environment with a man whose touch she cannot read. He has been taught long ago how to block his thoughts to telepaths. However, there comes the time when they have sudden, wild sex. Throughout, she is still unable to read him. But she knows what’s coming. When he orgasms, he won’t be able to block her, and finally she’ll get a glimpse into who and what he is. The thing is, that when men orgasm they get a specific image in their minds. It changes from person to person, but it all falls under the same category. You want to know what she sees? Read the story.
“Most Beautiful Intimacy” is the third and final novella in the Secret Thoughts world. In it, we have a wife (telepath) and a husband (a normal), who have a most intimate relationship. These two have been together for years, and there’s a reason why their relationship works and survived everything Professor Parks talked about in “The Perfect Girl”. The story explores, among other things, their extremely intimate relationship. This is the first part of the scene in which the husband learned his partner can do what she does:
A month after our first date, she lay there on my chest — we were at her home — and after listening to my heart beat for half a minute, she said, “I can hear who you are.”
And when I asked her what my heart was telling her about me, she told me it was beating fast, which meant that I liked her. And she said that my heart was telling her that I liked it when she touched me here… and here….
And then she said that it was telling her I had had doubts about her when we had first met. And then she said those doubts were because she looked too much like my last girlfriend. She said my last girlfriend was called Deborah.
And that was when things got weird. I sat up, a sexual moment spoiled, as Susan kept telling me things about my childhood that no one could possibly know. She told me about the one test I failed in college because I chose to cheat (only time) and I copied the answers from the one student who knew less than I did.
And then, her arms hugging her legs, with her almost not looking at me, she told me she could feel what I felt and hear what I thought when she touched me. But only when she chose to. Except during sexual excitement, when it was beyond her control.
She wanted to see my reaction and she didn’t touch me when she told me. She let me have that moment to myself, to react and to process and to only tell her what I wanted her to hear, the way I wanted her to hear it.
She just sat there in bed, waiting for my judgment, waiting to be thrown out. And all that time she tried to say how much she liked me, that she told me this awful secret of hers because she liked me so much, that she wanted us to be intimate in her way, in her special way.
She said that if we stayed together, nothing I could think would hurt her. She knew thoughts were different from words, that they were faster, temporary, fleeting, and sometimes contrary to who and what we were most of the time. She knew that the thoughts of someone who knew her secret would be filled with “pink elephant” moments, moments in which you thought exactly what you were not supposed to, what would hurt the most, what you could not say, simply because you knew she was reading you. She knew all this, she said. She’d been experiencing this all her adult life.
Of course that night didn’t end there. But we don’t have room for their entire night or their entire relationship.
Secret Thoughts is not about sex. In “The Perfect Girl”, Alexandra overly identifies with a dead woman by exploring the dead woman’s mind. In “The Linguist”, a telepath has to read the mind of an alien. In “Most Beautiful Intimacy”, a telepath gets pregnant, and follows the emotional progress of her developing fetus, still in the womb. Sex is not the main issue in any of the stories. But it is tackled, nonetheless, as honestly as all other matters that are tackled in the stories. Prudishness? I left that to others.
Go read Secret Thoughts.