No sooner did I write about The Power (1968), John Derbyshire looks back at ESP in science fiction:
Telepathy was one of the staple themes in sci-fi of the Golden Age. This isn’t much remembered now because telepathy is hard to dramatize on movie or TV screens, which is where the last couple of generations have gotten most of their sci-fi from. Moviecus list “65 movies about telepathy,” but scanning through them, it seems that telepathy is a secondary plot device, not the main theme.
The printed page does better. There have been some fine telepath novels. In many, like John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids or A.E. van Vogt’s Slan, telepaths are a feared and hated minority. Occasionally, as in Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man, they are a majority, persecuting non-telepaths. Most often they are just rare freaks who understand how very unpopular they’d be if their ability was discovered, and so they keep it secret.