There were hundreds of Ace Doubles published, over the course of decades. The format was somewhat of a gimmick, and the short length often meant the stories were all action with no depth. Many Ace Doubles would be remembered as the type of generic pulp science-fiction that was current in the 1960s, which ignores the fact that no less of a writer than Philip K Dick got his start with Ace Double. Some Ace Doubles were the predictable rocketship and raygun or sword and sorcery pulp, some were works from later famous authors, and a few of them were works from innovative authors that were somewhat lost in the format.

"The Communipaths" is in the final category. It was the first book published by Suzette Haden Elgin, a doctor in Linguistics who wrote a Ph. D. thesis on Navajo, and would in the 1980s author a series of books on verbal self-defense, as well as academic works on linguistics. Her career as a science-fiction writer is not widely remembered, although that isn't an indication of her talent.

"The Communipaths" takes place in a relatively far-future science fiction setting, where the "three galaxies" are at peace, and prosperous, and have a generally humane (if very bureaucratic) government. However, maintaining intergalactic communications requires the usage of high powered telepaths, who are raised for the job, and who burn themselves out, dying young, in executing it. A baby with psychic abilities is discovered in a separatist commune, and the book's plot is about the conflict between the baby's mother and the galactic government. Although the conflict could have been simplified, the book manages, as much as 110 pages allows, to present the conflict multidimensionally. The book could have portrayed the communitarians as fruity flower children, or the government as fascist thugs, but it manages to avoid both of those routes. If there is any fault with the portrayal, it is that it manages to cast 1960s social politics into the future, but that is something that is very common in science-fiction. The book also seems like it was edited down to size too zealously by the editor, which is a common problem for Ace Doubles.

I live in a non-English speaking country, and finding English language books is not easy. It is nice to know that if I do find an old Ace Double book in a pile somewhere, I will find something interesting, even if it doesn't have the polish to live up to its potential.

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