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Cosmicomics

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  8,218 ratings  ·  546 reviews
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 Weave...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published October 4th 1976 by Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiCloud Atlas by David MitchellPale Fire by Vladimir NabokovSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Oulipo,etc.
12th out of 200 books — 165 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoThe Divine Comedy by Dante AlighieriThe Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Italy
30th out of 527 books — 208 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nilesh Kashyap
FUCKING MINDFUCK!

I became aware of two facts after reading this book
-Sometime people can be way over-creative
-And sometime this over-creativity can be real pain in the... umm... let’s go with ‘rear’.

So, what is cosmicomics?
I may say it is comics of the universe; it is book of twelve short stories, with setting in all across the universe and from time even before big-bang to present day, and telling us the story of evolution of the universe.
But that is about something written on the pages of th...more
Garima

Qfwfq : Been there, Seen that, done that.

Been where? Where the distance of the moon from the ocean was just a ladder away.

Seen what? The formation of galaxies, A colorless world, A time when there was no concept of time.

Done what? Lived on the nebulae, Lived as a dinosaur, fallen in love with a tadpole.

A literary cosmos made up of staggering imagination, Calvino’s Cosmicomics exceeded the expectations I always have before reading any of his books and it makes me even more proud of declaring him...more
Stephen M
This is a wonderful set of short stories which comes as no surprise from the Cuban born, Italian Italo Calvino. I had previously read If on a Winter’s Night A Traveler and Invisible Cities, both I highly recommend, and enjoyed both of them immensely. I once heard about the vast differences between all of Calvino’s novels; that certainly seems true, each one of those books bare vague resemblances to one another; the similarities residing in minor things like, short story format, magical realist e...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 28, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Science Fiction)
Shelves: 501, sci-fi
Twelve totally enchanting tales about the evolution of the universe. This book is a good set of fanciful stories that a father can use to answer his son’s never-ending questions about the moon, the sun and everything up in the sky.

This is my third book by Italo Calvino and he still to disappoint me. Like Milan Kundera, he also does not re-write himself. He was a league of his own - writing about a unfinished manuscript being read by you, the reader - in If on a winter’s night a traveler. He loo...more
Madeleine
Calvino opened this beautiful little collection with "The Distance of the Moon," a tale from the days when the lunar landscape could be reached with nothing more than a ladder and some well-timed gymnastics, so it struck me as appropriate that I began reading “Cosmicomics” on the night of a full moon.

I had its richly resonant first two stories running through my head while driving home from work that evening. The first half of my commute is a journey illuminated by the artificial lights of both...more
Ellen
Italo Calvino, in Cosmicomics, writes a philosophical, pseudo-scientific fantasy that attempts, somewhat whimsically, to answer the kind of questions a child might pose: How did the earth begin? Where do we come from? How did language begin? The book charts the path of a character named Qfwfq who roams through emerging galaxies, romps with hydrogen atoms, and, in general, makes observations about an evolving universe.

Calvino’s book, a landmark of postmodern fiction, depicts a common postmoderni...more
Paul
I guess if there was nothing on tv and you were bored your mind might start wandering and you might possibly conceive that a civilisation of very tiny unicorns called Gzz and Tjsdfh might live up my arse but you wouldn't want to write a damn book about it, would you. However thin the book might be.
Andrea
Dec 21, 2012 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Andrea by: Kris
Shelves: science
I read this on route to Vietnam, sad to leave my half-read but weighty Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid at home. It was strangely a related interlude, a different look at the laws underpinning our universe and our reality. However the motivation of both authors was very similar - how do we as humans try to understand the complexity and wonder of the constraints and possibilities inherent in the structure of our reality? How does physics translate to our human experience, and how does...more
Tom
The concept is simple: take an abstract scientific concept and bring it to life through the art of the short story. Yet what Calvino achieves in Cosmicomics is unparalleled.

The collection contains twelve short stories, each beginning with a short statement describing a scientific theory, a dry, explanatory piece of writing that feels like it could've been pulled out of an introductory astronomy (or biology) textbook. For example, the first story, "The Distance of the Moon," begins with the follo...more
Rowena
Storytelling at its best. I rarely read anything as creative as this, I mean the book's narrator is someone (or something?) called Qfwfq, and other characters in the book include (k)yK, Kgwgk and Mrs. Ph(i)NKѲ! It's a collection of stories about the formation of the universe using scientific terminology and ideas so I guess to fully understand Calvino's genius, some knowledge of science (especially Physics, astronomy and Earth Science) is a good idea.
Greg
Reading these stories by Calvino I couldn't help but think of Borges constantly. Maybe it was the character names that all sounded like they came from titles of Borges stories. Actually the whole collection felt like Borges to me, but if Borges had decided to write his stories based on science instead of about books, history and arcane knowledge. Since I don't really have much interest in science I never really got into these stories, although they are fun to read.
Hanne
The Cosmicomics are a set of short stories published in the sixties by Italo Calvino. All of them follow the same structure: it starts with a sentence from a scientific publication, usually about the creation of our universe and planets. And then our narrator Qfwfq tells us he remembers that period in time, and takes us back in time on his train of thought.

These stories are dreamy, philosophical and funny at the same time. I think of them as bedtime stories for adults – they have the enchanted f...more
Simona Bartolotta
«Così incominciai a fare la prima cosa che mi venne, ed era una conchiglia. [...] Non mi veniva mica di farla perché mi serviva, ma al contrario come a uno gli viene di fare un’esclamazione che potrebbe benissimo anche non fare eppure la fa, come uno che dice “bah!” oppure “mah!”, così io facevo la conchiglia, cioè solo per esprimermi».

Una delle cose che amo di più, delle storie, è il fatto che si mettano a raccontare di un mollusco, un insignificante mollusco, o di un segno nello spazio impreci...more
Nate D
Jan 31, 2011 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dozing nebula, gatherers of moon-milk
Recommended to Nate D by: it was too cramped in the singularity to tell who
Calvino at his most Borgesian, perhaps, playfully mythic yet distilling broad complex theory on art and life from simple (here, astronomical) concepts run to distant, unforeseen extents. For instance, in the one I just finished, the eternal protagonist sees a sign placed on a star 100 million light years away reading I SAW YOU, and realizes it refers to an incident in his own life 200 million years before (time for the light to go out and back). Embarrassed to find that actions he'd hoped had be...more
Daniel Villines
When I look at space from the safety and confines of our Earth I always look at that vast illumined expanse with more wonder than knowledge. Sure I know a few things about the speed of light, planets around other stars, and the composition of comets, but what I don't know is so immense within the context of my view, that I become a believer of my own imagination. In addition to the bright points of nuclear fusion, I also see life on other worlds, the destruction of other planets, and the foresee...more
Ali
تلفیقی از فیزیک مدرن؛ زمین‌شناسی؛ تاریخ و طبعا دغدغه‌های انسانی توسط ایتالو کالوینو. 12 داستان کوتاه با شخصیت‌هایی عموما غیر انسانی و اساسا ناموجود.اگر آدم مقداری سواد زمین‌شناسی و فیزیک مدرن و کلاسیک داشته باشد طبعا خوانش داستان‌ها راحت‌تر می‌شود و البته بنده ساوات آنچنانی‌ای نداشتم و خواندم و تا حدی هم لذت بردم. طبق معمول بعضی از داستان‌ها به طعم من! بهتر بودند از بقیه. خواندنش سلیقه‌ای است ولی می‌توانید از این لینک دانلود کنید:
http://www.booknama.com/featured/cosm...
طبعا به خاطر ایتالیایی بود...more
María
Mi ha sembrato troppa fantascienza, al mio parere... Quindi Calvino piace nel "senso" del suo racconto, ma no nel modo in qui lui riesce a raccontarlo, a scriverlo
Henry Martin
Cosmicomics...my third Calvino. And there I was, the book freshly in my hand, thinking that I had a vague idea of what journey I was about to embark upon. I was wrong.

Borges messed with my mind. Calvino ripped it apart, fucked with it, and gave it back to me. So now, the final page turned and the cover slammed shut, here I am, contemplating what was it that I just finished reading. I know now not to wait too long - Calvino's stories have the tendency to sink deeper, to become more intriguing and...more
David
This book is a series of short stories that tell about evolution of the universe and of life. It is a sort of allegorical fantasy, entertaining, humorous, and thought-provoking. What is it like to be a sentient being, afloat in the universe? How could you restore your reputation, when someone who is 100 million light years distant, directs a sign toward you, saying "I SAW YOU"? What sort of signpost would you build, to figure out the rotation period of the galaxy? What would you do if you were t...more
Rob
Aug 11, 2007 Rob rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
this was a huge disappointment after If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. a few of the stories might be perfect for a bed-time story for a very precocious 9-year-old, if the parent had the background to explain the science. but not enough good science for a science nerd(me), and i think too much science for a normal person. too much fairy-tale language for an adult(me), but too much technical language for a kid. some of the ideas were great, and i would enjoy the first page or two, but quickly got...more
Bojan Tunguz
Ever since our ancestors started looking into the night sky, the saw patterns and connections between the stars, moons and planets, and used stories and myths to imbue those patterns with meaning and structure. With the big hindsight of the scientific worldview, all those ancient stories may seem quaint and naïve. And indeed, the advent of modern astronomy and astrophysics has greatly enriched and deepened our understanding of the Cosmos. But these wonderful new insights should not be taken in o...more
Simona
Calvino ha sempre avuto la capacità di emozionarmi, meravigliarmi, ma con "Le cosmicomiche" mi ha stupito in un modo che mai avrei immaginato.
In questi racconti parte dal mondo dell'astronomia, la scienza, la cosmogonia per raccontare il mondo, l'esistenza, la storia umana e i problemi che la abitano.
In "La distanza della luna" per esempio, racconta delle difficoltà che si incontrano nella comunicazione, in "Anni luce" della distanza, ne "I dinosauri" dell'accettazione di sé e di conseguenza d...more
Tancredi
Tra Bradbury, Adams e una certa fantascienza umoristica dallo spiccato sapore british. Un esercizio di stile godibilissimo e geniale. Qualche racconto sottotono, qualche altro un po' troppo arzigogolato e soprattutto fine a se stesso; ma l'ultimo racconto, La spirale, è pura poesia.
david
Aug 17, 2014 david added it
beautiful. one of the best pure storytellers ever. writing so lucid that i frequently lost the line between reading and daydreaming about infinity, signifiers and the signified, spirals, love....

realize that this book resonated in me in ways that "the death of artemio cruz" resonated... hence using the word "lucid" in my reviews of both, and not being able to shake that image of the trout from the end of "the road"...

"and at the bottom of each of those eyes i lived, or rather another me lived,...more
Rakhi Dalal
Jan 23, 2014 Rakhi Dalal added it
Shelves: abandoned
I am really sorry,Calvino but I just couldn't bring myself to complete it. Someday,perhaps.
rosalind williamson
words i associate with this book: delightful, whimsical, stellar (get it?)
Greg Brown
Calvino's novel is similar to Borges in the high-concept, borderline metaphysical premises, but more focused on the characters rather than following all the consequences of that premise. That's not to say that Borges isn't emotional; one of his under-appreciated gifts, and one lacking in most of his wanna-be successors, was in wringing emotional grist out of his evocative images and premises. Instead, Calvino isn't afraid to weave a separate emotional story onto the premise, or wander off-topic...more
Tyler Jones
What was it like back in the days when the moon was so close to the earth that it could be reached by ladder? How does one cope with the social embarrassment of having an uncle who refuses to evolve above being a fish? These questions and more are answered by Qfwfq, the narrator of the most fantastic stories ever captured inside a book cover.

Italo Calvino took scientific postulations and turned them into fictions of the highest order, where impossible situations are described and universal truth...more
Simon
A unique, thematically linked set of tales chronicling some of the major zoological, geological and cosmic events that shaped life, the earth and the universe but from the perspective of fictional aspecs of consciousness that were around at the time to witness them.

Calvino does not concern himself with realism and yet he is concerned with real, scientific themes that explain how we got here. The lives of the characters that feature in the stories seem eternal or at least many generations long an...more
Eleanor
Jun 04, 2007 Eleanor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi dreamers
Cosmicomics is one of the most rewarding and unique collections of short stories I've had the good fortune to stumble upon. Each story begins with a scientific fact about the nature of the universe, the big bang, evolution, the birth of the sun, and Calvino creates a community of characters among the very earliest formation of particles of life (often featuring particles themselves as main characters), bringing human interactions, hopes, fears, ambitions, and love to single-celled organism, matt...more
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کتاب 1 22 Dec 09, 2008 02:26AM  
  • The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
  • Sixty Stories
  • Collected Fictions
  • La casa in collina
  • The Tartar Steppe
  • Una questione privata
  • L'isola di Arturo
  • The Age of Wire and String
  • Indian Nocturne
  • Blow-Up and Other Stories
  • Lessico famigliare
  • The Marquise of O— and Other Stories
  • Believers: A novella and stories
  • The Wonders Of The Invisible World
  • The Late Mattia Pascal
  • Sleepwalker in a Fog
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Italo Calvino was born in Cuba and grew up in Italy. He was a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (1979).

His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic...more
More about Italo Calvino...
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler Invisible Cities The Baron in the Trees Il cavaliere inesistente The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount

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“I had fallen in love. What I mean is: I had begun to recognize, to isolate the signs of one of those from the others, in fact I waited for these signs I had begun to recognize, I sought them, responded to those signs I awaited with other signs I made myself, or rather it was I who aroused them, these signs from her, which I answered with other signs of my own . . . ” 31 likes
“I could distinguish the shape of her bosom, her arms, her thighs, just as I remember them now, just as now, when the Moon has become that flat, remote circle, I still look for her as soon as the first sliver appears in the sky, and the more it waxes, the more clearly I imagine I can see her, her or something of her, but only her, in a hundred, a thousand different vistas, she who makes the Moon the Moon and, whenever she is full, sets the dogs to howling all night long, and me with them.” 14 likes
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