In a futuristic world1, the couple Hayato and Yutori faces the problem of infertility. But owing to the dystopian set up when even UN issues The World Population Explosion Declaration, treating infertility is almost impossible. In fact there are black markets for treatment and possibility of immigration, however consequences are bad if attempts are discovered by authorities except for bearing via natural pregnancy.
1. Under the current law, the birth of a child born out of wedlock wasn't recognized, and in the event of a mother becoming pregnant with such a child, abortion was mandatory; should such a child be born nonetheless, the authorities were obliged to carry to carry out euthanasia.
In this short crafty prose, time shifts between past and present, but not in ordinary way. In one version amidst couple's ceaseless effort for fertility, Yutori gets pregnant by someone else than Hayato, and by law he must give in to divorce. Hayato, for healing his emotional loss or even for handling other human complexes, asks for a Stand-in Companion2—a humanoid duplicate of Yutori—with authorities. This new partner, with manipulated memory, can live with Hayato for ten years… Yutori, the Stand-in Companion, is convinced that the infertility problem is with her. Hayato, tries to find happiness by inflicting silent disgrace to Yutori, but finding meaning with meaninglessness tires him, until he finds renewed love again. In another version of the story, it's Hayato who makes someone else pregnant, confirming his fertility, and here comes, Hayato, the Stand-in Companion with his side of the story.
2. The rental period granted for a Stand-in Companion was limited to ten years without the possibility of extension. Strictly speaking, the stand-in program was put in place to promote the independence of people who have lost their beloved in an unexpected event, so there was no room for flexibility regarding the rental period.
The ideas, such as humanoid's rights to request another Stand-in Companion in case the mortal partner is dead and Stand-ins having all the rights equal to human, makes us suspect, with all the interplay with juxtaposed contrary versions and character's psyche that for the purpose of emotional healing a duplicate might live with duplicate in the near future, and even after mortal end humans will live until they find mental and emotional peace.
As can be inferred from the novella, the basic complexes and characters of human beings will find ties with AIs and humanoids, establishing emotional significance being the top value in the futuristic world. When memory and personality can be manipulated, new human side will come to light. The futuristic art will be the art of handling emotional intelligence of people. New realities of the future world might be even absurd than we can imagine. The thought of new ethics and morals set in the future world dominated by technology is as intriguing as this novella with tightly packed surprises. One of the Red Circle Minis, Stand-in Companion is a meditative exploration on human love and relation set in the future world.
Author: Kazufumi Shiraishi
Translator: Raj Mahtani
Publisher: Red Circle
Page Count: 58p