The plot is pretty simple. A group-mind race of aliens arrive and threaten to kill the humans because we do not share a group mind. The humans agree to let the aliens modify them so they can form a telepathic group-mind. Humans discover they don't really like each other all that much and all leave the planet to get as far away from each other as possible. I probably read it in an issue of Isaac Asimov's magazine but it's been a long time and I can remember for sure.

Thanks in advance for any help.

  • Don't remember any details of the plot, so not sure about the twist you are looking for, but recall there was a Robert Sheckley story involving a forced melding of human minds.
    – r-evans
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 1:22
  • I remember a scene in the story in which a parent gave their son a toy gun to play with and the rest of planet hammering them with their disapproval.
    – Alex Brown
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 20:34
  • This is a long shot since I'm pretty sure I read the story somewhere close to 30 years ago. I just wanted to find it again because it seems like a spot on metaphor for the internet age.
    – Alex Brown
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


Might you be remembering the short story "Final Solution" by Timothy Zahn? Looks like it was first published in 1982 in the Analog Science Fiction magazine, although I read it in Zahn's "Distant Friends and Others" book of short stories.

In the backstory of "Final Solution", the planet Kohinoor was founded by people who left Earth to escape warfare and conflict. But now it's on the brink of another civil war, when they encounter the alien Drymnu. As in the story you remember, the alien is very upset at discovering a space-faring fragmented (non-hive mind) species.

"Never before has a fragmented race survived its intraspecies warfare to reach the stars. This has always been impossible."

However, in this story, the alien wants to just leave, but the humans (well, the main protagonist) ask Drymnu to help make them a hive mind, in hopes that will prevent conflicts (civil war, etc.). The Drymnu agrees, but problems ensue.

There's the child not able to play with a toy gun incident:

Ruhl Tras trudged outside to the empty field near his home, fingering his ball restlessly. It was almost the only toy he could play with these days that didn't bring a flood of disapproval from one part of Kohinoor-mind or another. Some of his playthings were too dangerous, to someone's way of thinking: others were considered a bad influence -- especially his guns -- and others were simply deemed "childish" with an accompanying sense of guilt he couldn't understand.

There are also suicides (of war veterans who can't find any other way to stop giving everyone nightmares from their memories, for example), which is what makes everyone realize humans can't survive as a hive mind.

They end up building ships so everyone can go off and be alone again.

Small and cramped, they were little more than shuttles with sleeper and recycling facilities, Burke star drives, and planet-scanning equipment. But they would fly . . . and they would carry just one person each.

  • That is it. Thank you very much. This scratches a 5 year long itch so imagine my satisfaction :)
    – Alex Brown
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 15:49

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