A group mind, group ego, mind coalescence, or gestalt intelligence in science fiction is a plot device in which multiple minds, or consciousnesses, are linked into a single collective consciousness or intelligence.[1][2]


The first alien hive society was depicted in H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon (1901) while the use of human hive minds in literature goes back at least as far as David H. Keller's The Human Termites (published in Wonder Stories in 1929) and Olaf Stapledon's science-fiction novel Last and First Men (1930),[3][4] which is the first known use of the term "group mind" in science fiction.[5][2] The use of the phrase "hive mind", however, was first recorded in 1943 in use in bee keeping and its first known use in sci-fi was James H. Schmitz's Second Night of Summer (1950).[6][7] A group mind might be formed by any fictional plot device that facilitates brain to brain communication, such as telepathy.

This term may be used interchangeably with hive mind.[7][8] "Hive mind" tends to describe a group mind in which the linked individuals have no identity or free will and are possessed or mind-controlled as extensions of the hive mind. It is frequently associated with the concept of an entity that spreads among individuals and suppresses or subsumes their consciousness in the process of integrating them into its own collective consciousness. The concept of the group or hive mind is an intelligent version of real-life superorganisms such as a beehive or an ant colony.[citation needed]

Some hive minds feature members that are controlled by a centralised "hive brain" or "hive queen," but others feature a decentralised approach in which members interact equally or roughly equally to come to decisions.[9] The packs of Tines in Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep and The Children of the Sky are an example of such decentralized group minds.[10]

Hive minds are typically viewed in a negative light, especially in earlier works, but some newer works portray them as neutral or positive.[3][11]

As conceived in speculative fiction, hive minds often imply (almost) complete loss (or lack) of individuality, identity, and personhood. The individuals forming the hive may specialize in different functions, similarly to social insects.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Coalescing minds: brain uploading-related group mind scenarios" by Kaj Sotala, Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki. January 2012.
  2. ^ a b Prucher, Jeff (2009). "Group Mind n.". Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-19-538706-3. OCLC 319869032.
  3. ^ a b Stableford, Brian M; Langford, David (June 13, 2017). "Hive Minds". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Nicholls, Peter; Sleight, Graham (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd ed.). London: Gollancz.
  4. ^ "Group Ego by Robert Heinlein from Methuselah's Children". www.technovelgy.com. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  5. ^ "group mind n." Science Fiction Citations for the OED. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
  6. ^ Zimmer, Ben (2015-12-29). "'Hive Mind,' From Beekeeping to Economics". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  7. ^ a b Prucher, Jeff (2009). "Hive Mind n.". Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-19-538706-3. OCLC 319869032.
  8. ^ "What is another word for "group mind"?". Word Hippo. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  9. ^ Sokol, Joshua (2019-05-14). "Striking Down the Queen Won't Save You From the Swarm (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  10. ^ Vernor Vinge, The Children of the Sky, Tor, 2011, p. 167
  11. ^ Stableford, Brian M. (Jan 1, 1987). The Sociology of Science Fiction (PDF) (PhD). University of York.

Further reading