The Brain Pirates by John W. Campbell:
Science Fiction Inventions, Technology and Ideas

"Intrepid Scientific Adventurers of the Thirtieth Century Explore the Far Regions of Space!"

The possibilities presented by a race of animals adept in the use of telepathy are endless ó and amusing. In his latest Penton-and-Blake novelet, THE BRAIN PIRATES, John W. Campbell, Jr. dwells on the more amusing angles of the problem. Hereíre a few words from the author himself on the subject of telepathically adapted creatures.

Telepathy is old and much-used in stories. Itís not so much that every author thoroughly believes In, and expects the eventual success of this method of communication, but that every author believes In and knows darned well he has to have dramatic action. And surely, every person who has ever studied a foreign language knows the utter lack of dramatics or action in the learning of a strangerís language.
That alone, I think, is reason enough for the barrage of telepathy. But thereís more, too. The giraffe has no effective vocal cords. The only known way to get a rabbit to use the equipment he has is to kill him, slowly and lingeringly. When the rabbit is convinced he is dying, and the pain is quite unbearable, heíll use his apparatus. Not before. If two mammals of Earth, our own planet and own animal-type, donít and practically canít speak, the chances are pretty fair weíll meet a race that canít, or at least doesnít.
And how about a race equipped with two larynxes A race that could sing and talk chords? Man couldnít possibly learn that language. But Lord, telepathy ought to be good for something more than practical uses! We have a world full of vocal-equipped animals. How about a world full of telepathically equipped animals? Then itís a fact that about the best known ó and practical today ó method of invisibility is hypnotism. Hypnotize the subject, tell him he canít see Mr. Xenephon Plantagenet, and he canít see Mr. Plantagenet.
The havoc a mischievous, telepathic animal could create in a civilized world!
The only satellite of the tenth planet from the Sun turns out to be inhabited by sneaky telepaths who easily move about in its higher gravity and dim sunlight. They are, however, no match for clever explorers from Earth.


(From 'The Brain Pirates' by John Campbell)

Select an invention:

Atomic-Powered Lifting Suits
Special exoskeletons that would allow an ordinary human being to walk in doubled gravity.

Pneumatic Bumpers
An inflatable bumper system for ground-based motor vehicles.

Tiny Atomic-Power Drive Unit - compact power of the atom
A very small power generator that is atomic powered.

 

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