Telepathy in fiction

We read a lot of fantasy and speculative fiction around here.  The other day I was reflecting on how the use of telepathy in fiction is HILARIOUS.

Telepathy is SUCH a convenient plot device for a writer.  Want another character to know something?  They’re telepathic!  Want them to NOT know something?  The other person is telepathically shielding!  It’s the greatest dodge ever.

The device is so cheesy, and yet so useful (thinking as a writer).  Broadcast a mental distress call!  Or suddenly get cut off from contact!  Aliens are telepathic.  Or they’re the only ones who aren’t.  They have a hive-mind.  A stranger lands in a strange society.  How to deal with being mind-blind… or being the only one who isn’t.  What is the nature of individuality, of community, of self?  Are there special pair-bonds that let you hear each other?  Is there one-way or two-way or multi-way communication?  Feelings only (telempathy), thoughts only, or both?  Two or more humans?  A human and a magical animal?  So!  Many! Plots!

Sometimes I think it would be fun to be telepathically projecting for a while, but then I realize that would only stir the pot and people would come out with pitchforks.

Readers, we rely on you for amusement and chuckles.  Have you seen this done really well?  What should we read?  Or, have you seen it done ludicrously badly?  Spill!

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