A hive-mind is the organizing principle of the community in those insect species of which the basic reproductive unit is the hive, organized around a single fertile female, the queen. The term is used more loosely in some sf stories, often referring to any situation in which minds are linked in such a way that the whole becomes dominant over the parts.Because the organization of social-insect communities is so very different from that of mammal communities, while showing a degree of structural complexity comparable only to human societies, ants and their kindred have always held a particular fascination for sf writers, and the ant-nest is the most obvious model for an ALIEN society. Early expressions of this fascination include "The Empire of the Ants" (1905) by H.G. WELLS, "The Adventures of Professor Emmett" (1939) by Ben HECHT, "The Ant with the Human Soul"(1932) by Bob OLSEN, "Doomsday Deferred" (1949) by Will F. Jenkins (Murray LEINSTER) and "Come and Go Mad" (1949) by Fredric BROWN. Wells's THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1901) was the first of many to depict an alien hive-society. Giant ants and wasps are among the standard figures of menace employed by sf writers; notable examples are found in Ralph Milne FARLEY's The Radio Man (1924 Argosy; 1948), Frank A. RIDLEY's The GreenMachine (1926), Alfred Gordon BENNETT's The Demigods (1939), the film THEM! (1954) and Keith ROBERTS's The Furies (1966). Real-world scares concerning "killer bees" have been reflected in such novels as Arthur HERZOG's The Swarm (1974) and the associated Irwin ALLEN film. "The Empireof the Ants" and other stories portray hive-insects as serious contenders to end human domination of Earth, but Frank HERBERT's The Green Brain (1966) imagines a multispecies insect hive evolving in order to protectthe world's ecological balance against the short-sighted policies of humankind.Most sf novels which imagine hivelike human societies find the idea repugnant, and it is often cited as the ultimate totalitarian DYSTOPIA; examples include The Human Termites (1929 AMZ: 1979) by David H.KELLER, The Riddle of the Tower (1944) by J.D. BERESFORD and Esme Wynne-Tyson and Morrow's Ants (1975) by Edward HYAMS. L. Sprague DE CAMP's wry Rogue Queen (1951) features the revolutionary overthrow of a hivelike state. Some recent sf writers have been more conscientiously ambivalent - examples include T.J. BASS's Half Past Human (1971), Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive (1973) and Robert SILVERBERG's The Queen of Springtime(1989) - but their eventual verdict remains negative. Less hivelike group-minds are not uncommon in sf stories dealing with ESP, and the idea that some kind of group-mind represents the evolutionary destiny of the species crops up frequently; it figures extensively as an image of transcendental social harmony in Olaf STAPLEDON's Last and First Men (1930) and Star Maker (1937), and is memorably developed in TheodoreSTURGEON's More than Human (1953) and "To Marry Medusa" (1958; exp vt The Cosmic Rape 1958) and in Arthur C. CLARKE's Childhood's End (1953). The loss of individuality is, however, still seen as a horrific prospect in such novels as Enemies of the System (1978) by Brian W. ALDISS and Dusha Mira (1964; trans Antonina W. Bouis as World Soul 1978 US) by MikhailEMTSEV and Eremei PARNOV.The ambivalence with which many recent sf stories regard hive-minds derives mainly from the association of group-minds with the notion of transcendent EVOLUTION, but there has also been a tendency for recent sf writers calculatedly to question the assumptions made by their forerunners. Thus, whereas in Starship Troopers (1959) Robert A. HEINLEIN was content to assume that human individualism and alienhive-organization must fight a fundamental Darwinian struggle for existence, Joe HALDEMAN was prepared to suggest in The Forever War (1974) that mankind might be greatly enriched by making peace with the aliens. The alien hive-minds in Barrington J. BAYLEY's "The Bees of Knowledge"(1975) and Keith LAUMER's Star Colony (1981) are treated with some respect, and Orson Scott CARD followed up the genocidal Ender's Game (1977 ASF; exp 1985) with Speaker for the Dead (1986), in which theguilt-stricken hero searches for a suitable home for the last surviving alien queen. The most detailed and sympathetic sf image of an alien hive-society is that in Serpent's Reach (1982) by C.J. CHERRYH; another clever deployment is in Linda STEELE's Ibis (1985), an ironic account of a love affair between an alien female and a human male. The actual genetic politics of hive-organization - revelation of which has been the greatest triumph of the sociobiology of Edmund O. Wilson (1929-) - whereby the misnamed "queen" stands revealed as a helpless sex-slave forced to work to the genetic advantage of her sisters, has not yet found significant reflection in sf.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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