“The Mindworm,” Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1950 – A telepathic vampire is created by atomic radiation. The orphaned child of a lieutenant and a nurse stationed on a ship performing nuclear tests, he wanders from city to city. He discovers his powers in the process of fending off a gang of homeless men, who intend to rape him. Now an adult, he happily feeds on the anonymous residents of a somewhat brutal American metropolis until he moves on to the workers’ city nearby, where immigrants from the Old World form a tight community and possess special knowledge. Although he can read their minds, albeit in fragments, communication and language will fail him.
Comments: The vampire’s experience while eavesdropping on the fragmentary thoughts permeating the city reminds me a bit of depictions of information overload, especially later work by John Brunner. Read in One Hundred Years of Science Fiction, ed. Damon Knight.
Author: Wikipedia: “Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians.” Interested readers: “Re-reading Kornbluth” by Robert Silverberg. See also James Sallis’s review of C. M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary (2010) in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.