Review of “Standing Woman” (1974)


Tsutsui Yasutaka (writer).

Read in 2020.

Read in Speculative Japan.

A corrupt future government of Japan turns the living into pillars and trees.

I imagine the neologisms work better as two-kanji compounds than they do in English. The premise is weak in execution, but interesting on paper; by gradually turning political prisoners into trees, the government is effectively weaponizing the uncanny valley for domestic terrorism, and it’s doing so in a refreshingly low-key fashion that brings in beautifully paradoxical overtones of reforestation and acceptance of the inevitable, actually combining tyranny and death as inevitable. As usual with Tsutsui, it is primarily a dreamlike image with very little of the technological, economic and political plausibility required by the framing.

References here: Dhalgren (1975).

text Japanese production fiction