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In Pacific Rim (2013) the Kaijus share a hive (collective) mind. Through a hive mind system, the Kaiju can communicate instantly.

In Robotech (1985) The Invids are a hive-mind race that is driven by the need to take back what was stolen from them.

In The Last Question (1956) by Isaac Asimov, Man mentally was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

All those stories portray collective minds or hive minds. But which story was the first to feature this idea?

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  • A story of ants.
    – Oni
    Feb 7, 2021 at 1:50
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    Probably doesn't count, but an honorable mention goes to Periclymenus from Greek mythology, who was capable of transforming himself into a swarm of bees. Feb 7, 2021 at 6:58
  • While probably not the type of "hivemind" you're thinking about, a case could be made for We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. First published in 1924 but written 1920-1921.
    – Spencer
    Nov 20, 2022 at 14:02

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While it is probably not the first, an influential example that predates all the examples in the question is Last and First Men (1930) by Olaf Stapledon. The invaders from Mars as cloudlike organisms with a gestalt collective consciousness.

In the earliest stages of evolution on Mars the units had become independent of each other as soon as they parted in reproduction. But later the hitherto useless and rudimentary power of emitting radiation was specialized, so that, after reproduction, free individuals came to maintain radiant contact with one another, and to behave with ever-increasing coordination. Still later, these organized groups themselves maintained radiant contact with groups of their offspring, thus constituting larger individuals with specialized members. With each advance in complexity the sphere of radiant influence increased; until, at the zenith of Martian evolution, the whole planet (save for the remaining animal and vegetable representatives of the other and unsuccessful kind of life) constituted sometimes a single biological and psychological individual. But this occurred as a rule only in respect of matters which concerned the species as a whole. At most times the Martian individual was a cloudlet, such as those which first astonished the Second Men. But in great public crises each cloudlet would suddenly wake up to find himself the mind of the whole race, sensing through many individuals, and interpreting his sensations in the light of the experience of the whole race.

The life which dominated Mars was thus something between an extremely well-disciplined army of specialized units, and a body possessed by one mind. Like an army, it could take any form without destroying its organic unity. Like an army it was sometimes a crowd of free-wandering units, yet at other times also it disposed itself in very special orders to fulfil special functions. Like an army it was composed of free, experiencing individuals who voluntarily submitted themselves to discipline. On the other hand, unlike an army, it woke occasionally into unified consciousness.

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In Born Again by Alfred Lawson (1904), the narrator accidentally revives a woman named Arletta from a lost civilization, she looks like a very tall human in appearance, but is from a different species called the "Sagemen", in contrast to the modern human "Apemen". (She says at one point 'In our nomenclature your species was known as the Apeman, and represented in the chain of evolution the link between the Ape and Man'; later, directing the narrator's attention to a picture of her own kind, she says 'Their ancestors were Apemen who were started in the right path, and after persistently sticking to the upward march of unselfish progress for many generations, ultimately reached the class of men you see before you; giants, physically, mentally and morally.')

In chapter XIV she comments about how mastery of telepathy among the Sagemen enabled a form of group consciousness:

"Telepathy," continued Arletta, "proved to be one of the greatest factors for good utilized by our people. Through its agency we not only found that it was the most natural and complete way to converse with one another, but also learned to think collectively as well as singly.

"The brain is both a receiver and transmitter of thought, and all minds are directly connected with each other by an invisible force. Thought is an element of life and exists everywhere; it is not originated by the mind, but is a utility for it. Thoughts are sustenance for the brain, as air is for the lungs, or food for the appetite; they are good and bad in quality, and it is within man's power to accept or reject them at will. By admitting good and repelling bad thoughts, the brain acquires moral as well as mental strength but vice versa it is poisoned, and degeneracy is sure to follow.

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"It took several generations of continuous experimentation by the Sagemen to acquire the fundamental principles of telepathy and many more to establish the custom of conversing with the mind instead of the voice. In the beginning, the evil ones looked upon the practice with horror, for it was impossible to conceal anything from their fellow beings. But this very fact alone caused them to keep clean and allow no impure thoughts to enter their minds that would lower them in the estimation of their associates, and after a few generations of active use it was accepted as one of the great benefits of nature.

"Whenever a great problem confronted the nation, a hundred or more of our deepest thinkers would simultaneously concentrate their mental forces upon it, and if unsuccessful in reaching a satisfactory conclusion, then the whole people would devote an hour each day upon it until finally solved. Thus in thought as well as in action we labored together as a unit, harmoniously working out vast ideas that never could have been conceived by a single brain, and each mortal receiving an equal share of the many blessings derived therefrom.

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I probably consider the first instance of a collective mind Legion, the demon quoted in Gospels as being multiple but with a single intent and identity. That's probably the first documented quote of something having one single mind splitted.

As being quoted once by Shakespeare (as "himself", but meaning a multitude), I'll bet my cents on a fiction hive mind around 1600.

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