The following speculative fiction was co-written by RADAR: The narrative was developed over multiple collaborative ideation sessions, the world built upon and expanded by each writer’s unique points of view. The characters were role-played by community members, and the piece was collaboratively edited by a core team including Andrea Chen, Alexi Gunner, Caitlin Keeley, Emily Howell, and Keely Adler. This process was built collectively and in tandem alongside the story; learning to write, create, and imagine together was as much of the story as the words and world we’ve imagined within it. You can find a peek into the process, the story and the approach in Miro at bit.ly/43wjVf9.
Kailin still felt a little drowsy. She struggled to get a good night’s sleep — the momentous gravity of the days ahead weighing heavy on her mind. With a hot, fresh cup of Lion’s Mane mushroom brew in her hand, she sat down to wake up her computer terminal and logged into the MyceliMind network.
HiberBetaBot: tasks for today, 19 March, 2038:
- hibernet beta test assessment
- assess go-ahead for alpha launch
*Open Beta hiberfolk thread*
Kailin [project manager]: Ok, so how are we feeling about tomorrow’s launch? What’s our confidence level?
HiberBetaBot: <preparing to gather data from hiberfolk input cohort 18-19 March 2038>
Tam [writer-in-residence, part of the first group of hiberfolk and hibernet engineer]: While the bot does its thing, I think we can confidently say that we’ve covered our bases on safety. And while the mechanics are under-studied, my intuition tells me that the collective repair mechanisms — similar to quorum sensing in bacterial cells, or mycorrhizal symbiosis in plants — are creating stress-resistant healing mechanisms that will help iron out any kinks while our consciousnesses are dreaming up creations. This starts to explain the shared phenomena — the smell of petrichor — we’ve all experienced in emerging from the hibernet. We know that these processes occur much faster in dream states, and the brain has displayed tremendous control so far in identifying challenges and establishing solutions, so opening up to broader participation feels like the natural next step...
The hibernet could change everything.
Kailin took a deep breath, reminding herself to consider how far they’d come — and back from such a precipice. When The Algorithm came to global dominance, millions of worldbuilders were forced to compete against each other to maximize productivity, rendering them exhausted and depleted. She shuddered thinking about it, reluctant to relive the darkness. The cold, calculated, uncompromising worldbuilder economy forced her and her friends to create in solitude, forever attempting to outbuild each other in a frenzy of always-on hustling.
She ran a finger over the cluster of mushrooms sprouting from the terrarium on her desk. Who would have expected that the emergence of mycelitronics back in 2023 would eventually lead to this hope they now held in their hands, this possibility of a better way out? The discovery that fungi could be used to connect computing systems and transmit signals — a beautiful melding of technology and mother earth, she thought — evolved into the radical revelation that the same power of mycelium could be used to connect the minds of worldbuilders, too.
Working in secret, MyceliMind started cultivating edible ‘hibado’ fungi — a small, unassuming mushroom that looked a bit like a pencil, or perhaps a brush. Simply eat a hibado, surrender to sleep, and drift into the warm, cozy embrace of the hibernet.
In the hibernet, facilitated by a huge network of tiny, underground threads, worldbuilders were linked into a collaborative, universal consciousness — and, importantly, disconnected from the mainframe. Tapping into the ebb, flow, and consensus of collective thought through mycelial networks, something incredible was coming to bear: the power to manifest humanity’s collective desires through deep rest, to write the healing of the world into being.
The MyceliMind team knew what they built was transformative, incredible, and at the same time, terrifyingly powerful. Kailin was almost giddy, having spent so long working toward this moment — but she was also deeply anxious. She knew she wasn’t alone — sensing equal parts trepidation and optimism among the initial cohort of hiberfolk who had experienced the collective slumber of the fungi network.
Andrea [hibernet beta tester]: Did you guys see the news about the sinkhole in the Pacific, though? I swear that was me. I had a nightmare about the forest getting swallowed up. We need some screeners. Are you just going to let anyone and their anxieties in on this thing?
Alexi [hibernet beta tester]: I agree, I still think we should keep this quiet. We should be trying harder with our networks to prioritize access for underrepresented communities through grassroots outreach. I mean, we’re the ones with no shortage of ways to communicate and get our thoughts out there — what gives us the right to decide what healing looks like for everyone?
HiberBetaBot: Initial assessments detect slightly elevated levels of anxiety, within normal standard deviation
Nik [hibernet beta tester]: Call me a hopeless hopepunk, but I disagree. It used to be that my head hit the pillow and... void. Now, I’m no longer struggling to remember the wisps of a dream. I see the changes manifesting irl. My grumpy neighbor smiled at me this morning. Coincidence? Maybe. But since I’ve been in the hibernet... I believe it’s our way out of this, together.
Alexi [hibernet beta tester]: Uh... it’s a smile. I wouldn’t read that much into it.
Andrea [hibernet beta tester]: Alexi, that’s the whole point. You’ll never know for sure; it will just start to happen. The collective will shift – and we have to believe it will be for the better.
Dylan [one of the machine intelligences, part of the core science team]: But we don’t know what we’re unleashing here. Sure, we’ve built 'safe walls' and tested its apparent usability in the short-term — but we need to re-run these tests with larger sample sizes comprising varying types of brain activity and different psyches. We’re sharing swathes of subconscious data to build these collective realities, but it can trigger non-deterministic, non-linear chaos states, leading to the complete loss of control over individual and group states of mental activity.
Alexi [hibernet beta tester]: Exactly.
Rita [a beta tester who has refused this title]: Testing is a way we manage fear. But fear remains unless we look it in the eye and ask what it has to teach us. What we need to open our hearts to and recognize is that our experience of ourselves and other people is essentially an act of imagination that can’t be sustained through wholly rational modes of thought. The way forward necessitates a radical rupture from the patterns of oppression we’ve come to see as normal. Dreaming is radical. Rest is radical. The hibernet is a homecoming, an invitation to see and nurture our connections to each other, to meet our ancestors, to return to the earth... it’s an invitation to forgive ourselves and to trust our one-ness. Nature’s intelligence starts sluggish but acts on a scale of great magnitude. Like an elephant in a rat race. We need to trust that power.
Kailin felt uncertain. The hibernet, like any system rooted in nature, could be chaotic. Its lack of linear processes made it inherently difficult to predict and harness. But she also believed it could lead to something magical.
The old way of building — alone, in solitude, building over each other, a million voices shouting — it wasn’t sustainable. But was the hibernet the answer? What if they had got it all wrong? Were they opening Pandora’s box?
She realized that the decision to go ahead with the launch was not hers to assess. She would have to tap into the collective consciousness of the hibernet to give her an answer on whether they should deploy on a wider scale. If the future of creation was multiplayer mode, the decision would have to be made in multiplayer mode too.
Kailin [project manager]: Assess sentiment levels across all beta inputs. Prompt: are we ready to launch alpha?
Alexi [hibernet beta tester]: @Kailin, all of them?
Kailin [project manager]: We need the wisdom of the collective more than ever now. This is what we've been building for this whole time, isn't it? Taking things from single-player to multiplayer?
The group watched intently as the bot — a tool Kailin built to scrape every emotion pulsing through the conversations, collaborations, and interactions within the hibernet — formulated its answer, their next step hanging in the balance.
HiberBetaBot: Universal sentiment level assessment:
*Unknown feeling detected*
Kailin [project manager]: That’s odd, the HiberBetaBot tracks every feeling in the emotion wheel, what else could the hiberfolk be feeling right now? @HiberBetaBot, please visualize ‘unknown feeling.’
Andrea [hibernet beta tester]: Is that... an egg...?
They had never seen the bot do this before, but the image materializing felt like a familiar embrace. A blurry spherical outline was emerging, as though woven out of spiders’ silk. Within its translucent confines, indistinct shadows were fading in and out. Some would claim they saw the flutter of a butterfly’s wings. Others, a slowly gurgling well, gathering momentum until it gushed and turned barren landscapes into verdant green. Hands held in hands. Promises whispered in ears. Slowly, recognition dawned among the hiberfolk. This was the future, a better future, hatching in front of them.
Alexi [hibernet beta tester]: That’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in my hibernet slumber all this time — I’ve never woken up remembering, but... that’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? Beautiful chaos, a million minds intertwined, collectively dreaming... about a better future.
As if in response to their unspoken thoughts, they knew, without anything being typed in the thread, that across their disparate corners of the earth, they were each experiencing the same thing: the telltale smell of freshly turned dirt, ready for planting. Petrichor.
Kailin took a deep breath in, savoring the sweet, earthy scent. It was both fresh and somehow grounded, brand new to the world and filled with the wisdom of an ecosystem’s millennia of growth, death, and creation all at the same time.
She knew she had her answer.