The Old Axolotl

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The Old Axolotl (Polish: Starość aksolotla) is a 2015 digital-only novel by Polish science-fiction author Jacek Dukaj. The novel was released in Polish on March 10, 2015, and shortly afterward, on March 24 that year, in English (translated by Stanley Bill). It has been described as "an experiment in reading (and creating) the electronic literature of the future".[1]

It is Dukaj's first novel, and therefore longest work, translated to English as of 2017. His homepage described the work as his "debut in English",[2] though several of his short stories (The Golden Galley, 1996, The Iron General, 2010, The Apocrypha of Lem, 2011) have been translated prior to this.[2]

The novel has inspired a 2020 Netflix-original Belgian TV series Into the Night.[3]


The novel presents a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk vision of Earth where biological life has been wiped out, inhabited by robots and mechs, many of which are humans whose consciousness has been digitized in the wake of an extinction event.[1]

Significance and analysis[edit]

The novel is an example of electronic literature, available only in digital formats, and has no traditional paper version. It was designed from the beginning not only to incorporate more traditional elements such as illustrations, but also hypertext, and 3D-printable models of main robotic characters designed by Alex Jaeger, the art director of Transformers films.[1] The novel composition is layered, with the narrative layer, an encyclopedic/hyperlinked footnote layer, and a multimedia layer, including illustrations and a short movie-like trailer done by Oscar-nominated Platige Image studio.[4]

One of the novel's central questions is: "What does it mean to be human?" Other subjects are "staples of cyberpunk and related genres, such as the artificial intelligence".[5][6] The novel is representative of Dukaj's prose, posing philosophical questions about the future of man and technology.[1] The other major element of the novel is Dukaj's attempts to introduce the reader to the new style of electronic literature.[6]

The novel was nominated for the 2016 Janusz A. Zajdel Award.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Old Axolotl: Man without Body, Book without Paper | Article |". Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  2. ^ a b "Jacek Dukaj". Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  3. ^ "NETFLIX ANNOUNCES THE FIRST BELGIAN ORIGINAL SERIES - INTO THE NIGHT". Netflix Media Center. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  4. ^ Image, Platige (2015-02-10), STAROŚĆ AKSOLOTLA / THE OLD AXOLOTL, retrieved 2017-03-21
  5. ^ "Old Axolotl: Hardware Dreams, The / Instytut Książki". (in Polish). Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  6. ^ a b "Jacek Dukaj's THE OLD AXOLOTL: HARDWARE DREAMS is a Multi-Dimensional and Profound Read". SF Signal. 2015-04-09. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  7. ^ <joasia[at]>, Jo’Asia (Joanna Słupek). "Nominacje do Nagrody Zajdla 2010–2015". Retrieved 2017-03-21.

External links[edit]