The first book in the trilogy based on the TV show Babylon 5.
Publication year: 1998
Page count: 267
Publisher: Warner Bros.
In the year 2115 telepathy was recognized by Earth’s scientific community as real. Earth was still taking it’s first steps into space and hadn’t encountered any aliens. When humans realized that telepathy wasn’t a hoax, they became scared and started to blame the telepaths about pretty much everything. During those first years, telepaths (and people accused of being telepaths) are hunted and killed, until Senator Lee Crawford founds the MRA, the Metasensory Regulation Authority. However, he doesn’t do it out of kindness; on the contrary, he wants more power to himself and he sees the telepaths as a way to do it. He plots and schemes to get into his position.
However, some telepaths don’t want to join Crawford’s dream. They band together so that they can protect each other. A few of them even make the normal people worship them. But as time goes by, some of them start to see that their best chance for survival is the MRA. Three of them, called Blood, Mercy, and Smoke, strike a deal with Crawford and become the senator’s best hunters. The trio just want to save telepaths; clearly the normal humans are the real enemy…
MRA starts the practice of using commercial telepaths but this isn’t explained any further. After a significant jump in time, the MRA has changed into the Psi Corp.
The book jumps around a lot, covering many people and a couple of generations of both early Psi Corps people and the rebel telepaths. We get to see Lyta’s ancestors and their history in the Psi corps. We also get to see that someone has engineered telepaths, but that’s not a big revelation to anyone who has watched the show. Because of the long time line, the book doesn’t spend much time with each character.
The strongest characters are the MRA’s/Psi Corps’ directors. Crawford is USA’s senator in the Earth Alliance senate and at the start of the book, not every country on the Earth is part of the EA. He’s a strong supporter of EA’s space program which is in danger of being shut down. He manipulates people expertly and uses them for his own ends. Psi Corp’s next director is Kevin Vacit who starts his career as Crawford’s assistant. EA has ruled that a telepath can’t be Psi Corps’ director but Kevin is one of those 30% of people whose telepathy doesn’t show up when tested. He’s kept it a close secret even from Crawford. He also uses the Psi corps for his own ends and even allows the resistance to continue because he believes that the strongest people are among the rebels. Of course, nobody can know that. Neither of these men are particularly likable but I think they are realistic, gray characters. The third morally gray man is Stephen Walters whose telepathy emerged late. Because of his military training Vacit sends him to infiltrate the rebels.
It’s entertaining enough but it doesn’t really bring anything new. The novel is also quite dark: there are a lot of killings, betrayals, and torture, and no humor.