‘Mr. Turtle’: Yusaku Kitano’s bizarre, award-winning novel about artificial intelligence

Mr. Turtle wants to borrow a Philip K. Dick novel from a local Japanese library. But “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is on loan, so he borrows a book on “The Making of Blade Runner.” This scene from Yusuke Kitano’s award-winning sci-fi novel “Mr. Turtle” sums up its narrative strategy: Don’t tell the story, tell the stories under the story. Mr. Turtle, by Yusaku Kitano, Translated by Tyran Grillo.184 pagesKurodahan, Fiction. Kitano loves layers, and there are many to upturn in this deceptive tale of a cyborg turtle’s existential awakening. Yes, it’s full of Japanese sci-fi staples — an interplanetary war, mecha, wormholes, intergalactic trains — but the turtle’s burgeoning AI blossoms far from the action, in mundane libraries, in warehouses, on suburban riverbanks. First published as “Kame-kun,” the…


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