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Got That Sunshine

Hybrid Heart

By Iori Kusano 

7 Apr, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


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Iori Kusano’s 2023 Hybrid Heart is a stand-alone near-future science fiction novella.

Everyone loves Idols, perfectly adorable entertainers onto whom the audience can project their fantasies. Idols require perfectly honed public personas and Advanced Media Creation Girls, descended from artifacts like Hatsune Miku, enjoy a competitive edge. Nevertheless, mere humans like Rei can still prevail.

Provided they are willing to pay the price.

Rei may be mere flesh, not reliable software. Living up to the beauty standards of rivals lacking hunger, emotions, or any of the other distractions to which humans are subject is difficult. Nonetheless Rei is determined to hold onto her position as a media star. Therefore, she holds herself to unhuman standards of behavior.

Kosaka, the manager from media company Hiyoko PRO, has been put in charge of Rei He is not foolish enough to rely entirely on Rei’s own self-control and grit. After all, Rei was once half of pop due Venus Versus. The other half of Venus Versus, Rei’s former bestie Ririko, betrayed Rei, Kosaka, and most importantly Hiyoko PRO, by scandalously falling in love. Determined to rebuild his position at Hiyoko PRO, Kosaka rules Rei with relentless micromanagement.

This being the near future, Kosaka does not have to depend on his personal powers of observation. Rei’s meagre apartment and Rei’s body are loaded with advanced technology and the latest proprietary software, all dedicated to closely monitoring every aspect of Rei’s behavior. Should Rei’s resolve slip, Kosaka will swiftly intervene.

Aside from the appalling demands placed on Rei, the arrangement appears perfect. Rei’s fans have someone to adore, Rei gets fame and public adulation, Kosaka gets a heathy salary and status within the company, and Hiyoko PRO rakes in a small fortune.

Upon discovering that Hiyoko PRO has recruited a new recruit, the young and pretty Aimi, Rei resolves to mentor the sixteen-year-old. She wants to protect Aimi from some of the miseries Rei has endured in her quest for fame. But Rei is foolish in believing that she can protect Aimi. Rei cannot even protect Rei. 


In my review of The Fractal Prince [link to come once I post that review] I lauded the searchability of the title. This provides an example of the other extreme: non-singular titles. Online booksellers really really wanted me to buy Hybrid × Heart Magias instead of this book. My links below should be sufficient to find it, but questing readers should be aware of this issue.

Human Idols have to meet absurd, harmful standards in ambition, appearance and behavior. They also have to meet lofty standards in willful naïveté. Rei avoids thinking about her meagre wage and her abject poverty. She also avoids thinking about that sad fact that no living person can remain forever young, perfectly beautiful, and perfectly behaved. To the extent that Rei thinks about age-induced retirement, it is in terms of her failing to meet company standards, not that those standards are impossible to meet. Rei wants to see Aimi as someone to mentor, not as her replacement.

Other characters have the clarity Rei lacks:

People say girl’ when they want a polite euphemism for disposable.’”

Rei’s circumstances are perfectly plausible. After all, this is how certain categories of entertainer are treated now. What makes this SFnal (at least for a couple more years until the technology comes along) is the manner in which advanced technology facilitates exploiting women like Rei. Armed with a suite of intrusive sensors, her manager can monitor and direct Rei’s behavior more comprehensively than any warden of a panopticon prison.

The question isn’t if Rei’s career will come to a sudden halt. It’s when. Every living Idol has an expiry date and Rei is no exception. The novella tells us how Rei’s career ends, how Rei manages the transition, and what she (belatedly) learns along the way.

Kusano’s novella is a short, sharp tour of the perils of managed fame.

Hybrid Heart is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Book Depository). I did not find it at Chapters-Indigo.