"More Than Human" by Theodore Sturgeon (1953)
"I grunted and with my mind I took all the eights and all the rhymes and everything they stood for, and made it all black. But it wouldn't stay black. I had to put something there, so I made a great big luminous figure eight and just let it hang there. But it turned on its side and inside the loops it began to shimmer. It was like one of those movie shots through binoculars. I was going to have to look through whether I liked it or not."
"More Than Human" is Theodore Sturgeon's most famous novel. It is also the expanded version of his novella, "Baby Is Three." It has won awards and is included in many "best of" lists.
It's a short book, and I don't want to ruin it for you by over-explaining the plot. It's set in the present day (or the 50s, anyway), and a group of young people develop telepathy, telekinesis, and other psychic powers. Instead of becoming instant celebrities, they suffer a marginal existence, fraught with peril.
And yes, this does sound a lot like the idea behind Marvel's X-men comics, though the characters in "More Than Human" aren't superheroes by any stretch of the imagination. The X-men usually direct their frustration outward, at a world that refuses to accept them, while the characters in "More Than Human" ponder deeper questions of evolution and identity.
I think it's a good book, though not as good as I had hoped it would be. Of the three sections that comprise this book, the second section, "Baby Is Three" is by far the strongest. Compared to this middle section, the first and third sections feel like they were written much later, in an attempt to make a short story longer. I also found the ending somewhat disappointing, since the main character wasn't sympathetic enough for his "revelation" to be that moving.
But maybe this book has just been on my "must read" list for too long. Perhaps I built it up too much in my mind. I did, after all, love "Venus Plus X," and since I read that book I've been looking for this one.
"More Than Human" was definitely groundbreaking for its time, and despite a few reservations I do recommend it.