Author: Project Itoh/Translator: Alexander O. Smith
Tuan Kirie lives in what many would consider a perfect world. Disease and illness have been all but eradicated. People are sweet and nice to each other all the time. In general, negative experiences are avoided at all costs, and exposure to anything negative is immediately treated with extensive therapy. Tuan hates it. Turns out, she’s not alone. After meeting Miach Mihie, rebel leader extraordinaire, and Cian Reikado, the seemingly-quiet follower, Tuan quickly forms a close connection with them. Of course, their bonds are formed from a mutual desire to buck the system that seeks to smother them to death in kindness–even if it means dying to escape the system.
Harmony was quite an experience to read. I’ve read numerous utopia-gone-wrong sorts of stories before, but never one that took the story on quite this tack. It is definitely about what happens when you let fear govern society–to the point that you’re willing to give up all individuality and privacy to attain at least an appearance of safety. But it’s not so much a “big brother” sort of story as it is a story about what people are capable of doing to each other on a more horizontal level. I really don’t agree with all the conclusions the story seemed to come to, but I did find it thought-inspiring. More than anything, I found Tuan’s story to be a lonely, tragic one. Still, there’s a nice sci-fi/mystery element too, which was interesting. I found the setup–as files with emtl (emotion-in-text markup language) that are pulled from Tuan’s experiences–to be unique and engaging, if a bit odd to get used to at first. On the whole, I found Harmony to be a well-written, thoughtful story that I was glad to have read although it left me pensive.