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Books where character is cut off from "collective consciousness"

HareBrain

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I'm looking for books (or films, come to that) which have a character that is part of a collective mind, from which he or she draws psychic sustenance, who is then cut off from that and painfully forced to deal with the concept of him/herself as a separated individual.

I suppose in this sense "collective mind" might be a religious order or political doctrine, but I'm particularly interested in stories where the "severing" doesn't come from a growing sense of individuality, but is the initial cause of it.

Hope that makes sense. I'm sure there must be quite a few stories like this -- I think I might have read some myself, but I can't bring them to mind. There's probably a really well-known example and I'll look stupid for having needed to ask. :eek:
 

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I dunno. The Matrix? How about those animated Matrix stories, I seem to remember more of that sort of thing with those.
 

HoopyFrood

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Been a while since I read it, but I seem to recall the "Somni" section of Cloud Atlas deals with this kind of thing?

And there's always Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager ;)
 

adomol

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The short story Weather in Alastair Reynolds collection Galactic North deals with exactly what you are looking for. It is part of his Revelation Space universe of stories.
 

biodroid

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Isn't Ian Cormac disconnected from the collective thingy in Gridlinked?
 

HareBrain

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Thanks for the suggestions so far. From memory, in Gridlinked I think it was just a more extreme version of going without internet access rather than a complete shift in self-perception. I have Cloud Atlas handy so I'll have a look at that, and I'll try to search out the Reynolds story. And it might well have been Seven of Nine I was thinking about, though it's been years since I saw any Voyager and can hardly remember anything about the character.

All those examples are high-tech, of course. I'd also be interested in anything to do with being part of (and then being separate from) Nature.
 

adomol

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There is a character that Warren Ellis created for the comic books Stormwatch and The Authority named Jack Hawksmoor. He is connected to the essence of cities... needs this to survive. This being a superhero comic book character, his gift comes into play for better or worse quite often.
 

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Ooh, Nevare in Hobb's Soldier Son books? Except, he doesn't get cut off completely, he just splits in to two people and one stays with the tree woman (until he takes over).
 

HoopyFrood

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Seven of Nine is the one that was part of the Borg, and then starts to learn how to be an individual again once aboard Voyager. She certainly goes through the wringer learning to deal with it all. There's also a great episode where Jeri Ryan shows off some cracking acting skills when Seven of Nine starts displaying personalities of other people sucked in by the Borg.

I swear I know of other examples, but I just can't quite remember...
 

adomol

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It's kind impossible to forget 7of9... she is the extremely hot member of the crew.
 

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chrispenycate

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I'm going to put in Baxter's 'Coalescent', even if more of it is a 'lost' member reintegrating (Like Zenna Henderson's 'Pilgrimage').
 

The Judge

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I've just had a quick re-read of Weather, HB, and although it's very readable, I don't think it's actually what you're looking for.

adomol is right, in that Weather is herself cut off from a collective mind and she is therefore suffering isolation as a result, but in fact we get virtually nothing from her on that issue, only the narrator's thoughts: "I doubted that pain was a strong enough word for the psychic shock associated with being ripped away from her fellows. Nothing in ordinary human experience could approximate the trauma of that separation, any more than a frog could grasp the loss of a loved one."

She makes a connection with humans who find her, and in particular the narrator himself, which perhaps might not have been possible while she was still with her fellows, but although she talks of effectively being an outcast (if she returned to the others she'd be "a single out-of-tune instrument in an orchestra"), and there's an acceptance of that, the story doesn't deal with any growing individuality nor give any greater depth of insight into being alone -- the narrrator says she'd be "forced to come to terms with existence as a solitary mind, an island" but we don't see it -- and there's certainly no shift in her self-perception.

Can't think of anything I've read which comes close to that, but I'll continue cogitating and have a look at my reading lists for the last couple of years.
 

HareBrain

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Thanks again for the continuing thoughts and suggestion.

It's kind impossible to forget 7of9... she is the extremely hot member of the crew.
I didn't say I'd forgotten everything about the character. ;)

Equilibrium is a great movie that deals with this concept.
That's interesting, because less effort. Would others second the suggestion?

It's occurred to me that the one I was trying to remember originally might have been Julian Jaynes's theory on the origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. But I'd rather read some fiction (or watch a film) than plough through that again.
 

williamjm

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Anne Leckie's Ancillary Justice sounds perfect for you. The main character was formerly one of the thousands of avatars of a warship's collective consciousness who is left on their own to try to avenge the ship's destruction. I thought it was an excellent book.

Although it's not the main focus of the story, there are some characters in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series who were previously part of a hive mind but for various reasons are separated from it.
 

tinkerdan

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I would have to say that the Treecats of David Weber's Honor Harrington Series are close to a collective type of mind though not wholly immersed as in it seems that they have to be quite close though they can share information once they are. Nimitz is injured when Honor is taken captive and he is beaten badly almost to death. The next time he meets up with the other Treecat's he realizes he doesn't have the connection.

There seem to be two levels of connection one is like empathy which seems to be how Honor and Nimitz start out communicating. The other is a deeper telepathic ability, which is what he looses.

David tries to explain how horrible the experience is, but I'm not sure how helpful it would be.
 

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That's interesting, because less effort. Would others second the suggestion?
Equilibrium is about emotions. A society where nobody's allowed to feel anything cos emotions are ebil. So they all take drugs, then one day, one guy either misses his dose or forgets or sommat, then he's all like, whoa... I have feelings and shiz. I mostly remember puppies being shot, and a man having his face cut off with a katana. Oh, and one of my mates falling asleep in the cinema when we went to see it.
 

adomol

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I just though of another example from Star Trek, this one from TNG. There was an episode in which the half Betazoid Deanna Troi, the empathic character, losses her ability. During the course of the episode she becomes very disturbed by her loss and begins to lash out at her crew mates. She states that feels trapped in her own world, not being able to sense the emotions of everyone around her anymore. The show progresses and she learns to deal, the crew overcomes their conflict with Troi's help, then her ability returns and yadayada... happy ending. As usual.
 

millymollymo

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Try Monica Hughes, DreamCatcher (if you can find it) sequel to Devil on My Back. I think it would fall under YA in today's marketing.
Blurb reads: Ruth is a misfit. Within the protective Dome of Ark Three, she alone disrupts the Web, the perfect pattern formed by the psychic joining of minds.

As I recall, Ruth sets out from the "collective" seeking the girl that only she dreams of.
Very much a Dystopian SF
 

antiloquax

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There are some of these ideas in Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm. The people who are clones (there are multiple clones from one egg who usually act as a team / social unit) get very freaked out when separated from their group. They are also very afraid of the forest.
 
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