Esper (n, adj)

In science fiction, an esper is a person who has any of a number of abilities, such as telepathy or telekenesis, which may be considered to be a form of Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP, 'ESP' being the root of the word.

This term is used in science fiction, and some role-playing games as well. According to research by the Oxford English Dictionary1 into the origins of science fiction terminology, the term was coined by Alfred Bester in his shortstory "Oddy and Id,"2 and made it popular in his novel The Demolished Man. Bester fleshes out the concept of the esper's place in society, introducing the concept of the Esper Guild, telepath cops, telepath ratings, and an esper's code of conduct, which is in many ways similar to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

Many of these elements of Bester's esper concept were direct influences on J. Michael Strazynski when he wrote about the Psi Corps in Babylon 5. Always one to give props where props are due, JMS even named his chief Psi-Cop Alfred Bester.

1 Science Fiction Citations

2 Virtual Unrealities, Alfred Bester, Vintage Books, 1997, ISBN 0-679-76783-5.