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Cosmicomics (1965)

by Italo Calvino

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,025413,944 (4.07)83
Enchanting stories about the evolution of the universe, with characters that are fashioned from mathematical formulae and cellular structures. “Naturally, we were all there, - old Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been? Nobody knew then that there could be space. Or time either: what use did we have for time, packed in there like sardines?” Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book… (more)

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» See also 83 mentions

English (38)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Same ISBN as this edition but mine's older (1968). I'll let that lie. I read this after "The Path to the Nest of Spiders" hoping that this one wd have more formal language play.. & it did, but not necessarily enuf to satisfy me. No doubt it was very good but I'm playing it safe here & giving it a 3 star. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |


Nothing like I expected. Sweeter. There was a type of innocence that I didn't anticipate, and I'm hoping that this feeling continues through Calvino's other work because it is (...I hate this word...) refreshing and, therefore, exciting. Exciting, too, that I've never read anything like this before. I suppose this could boil down to science fiction, but it didn't feel like any encounter I've had before with sci-fi. Because I have a less than cursory knowledge of physics (etc.), I was able to suspend judgement and let Calvino wind through his interpretation of fables on how to cope with a rapidly (dismally slowly?) evolving universe. Qfwfq often made me laugh aloud, which is something I suprisingly don't often do while reading, and I loved that each story dealt with utterly human longings despite the fact that there aren't really any human entities within these pages. One or two of the stories toward the end didn't quite keep the momentum for me as the others, but this feels irrelevant to me considering the beauty of this work as a whole.

Ah. I'm hooked. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
This one pretty much floored me. The scope and the way this was written kinda blew my mind.

What do I mean? Well, it's one hell of an accomplished SF... encompassing all time and space from a single viewpoint in what may as well be god... but isn't.

It's a love story with a very complicated relationship of an alien with another alien, it's a love story with time, physics, genetics, and all sorts of real math. I will admit that a very great deal of my enjoyment of this novel stems from the fact that I'm conversant with real science in a big way and this book incorporates it all very heavily in the narrative.

The book is kinda like this: think of five or six hella great popular science writers, turn them into short-story writers, let it have the feel of Marvel or DC cosmic-stage stories, and then have it feel right at home with Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

I'm not joking. It's really that good and that odd. And while the science bits and how it's written is very heavy in a way, I don't think it overwhelms the actual stories at all. It's unusual and it's very smart, but I wouldn't let that deter you from reading it. Indeed, I think everyone should read this and have it be a solid staple of the mind.

My only complaint might be a bit idiotic. I really think these stories would translate perfectly into a real comic. I know it's kinda implied in the title, but still... I think it would be improved, making it even more readable and brilliant... that is, assuming that the artist is up to snuff. :)

( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I really couldn't be more charmed. ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
Cosmicomics is a collection of fanciful short fiction inspired by scientific quotes, which flower into metaphors for something more human than what forumulae and calculations can encompass. Measurable distance becomes emotional distance, cosmic clashes become mere one-upmanship, etc. On the one hand these seem like the lazy mental exercises of a child-like imagination. On the other, I could not similarly write a 12-page compelling story about what it would feel like to be a mollusk. It is the personification that makes it work, makes the science relateable in terms of human emotion. I could feel the science, not just understand it.

Unlike most anthologies or collections, these really ought to be read together as a whole since they all bear the same peculiar style. The first paragraph of each story, italicized and devoted to a scientific fact or theory, is key to establishing the context of what follows. This bit of grounding makes it possible to follow Calvino's imaginative forays, whether it is into impossible spaces like the single point that presaged the Big Bang or inside the mind of the last dinosaur. The imagery can be startling, and the metaphors are all built-in.

My personal favourites are 'How Much Shall We Bet?' and 'The Dinosaurs', but the first story 'The Distance to the Moon' (an inspiration for Pixar's "La Luna") is that of most readers. If its magic reaches you then carry on. Otherwise you'd best stop there because it will only get more strange, albeit strangely wonderful. ( )
  Cecrow | Jun 20, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Calvino, Italoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baranelli, LucaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montale, EugenioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ryömä, LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weaver, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Una volta, secondo Sir George H. Darwin, la Luna era molto vicina alla Terra. Furono le maree che a poco a poco la spinsero lontano: le maree che lei Luna provoca nelle acque terrestri e in cui la Terra perde lentamente energia.
At one time, according to Sir George H. Darwin, the Moon was very close to the Earth. Then the tides gradually pushed her far away: the tides that the Moon herself causes in the Earth’s waters, where the Earth slowly loses energy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
There is a later, expanded work "Complete Cosmicomics" / Tutte le cosmicomiche" that contains significant amount of material that does not exist in this, original edition. Please keep the different editions separate.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Enchanting stories about the evolution of the universe, with characters that are fashioned from mathematical formulae and cellular structures. “Naturally, we were all there, - old Qfwfq said, - where else could we have been? Nobody knew then that there could be space. Or time either: what use did we have for time, packed in there like sardines?” Translated by William Weaver. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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Book description
Colección de todas las cosmicómicas escritas por Italo Calvino.

Table of

The distance of the moon --At daybreak --A sign in space --All at one point --Without colors --Games without end --The aquatic uncle --How much shall we bet? --The dinosaurs --The form of space --The light-years --The spiral.
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