Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  8,401 ratings  ·  584 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??
Published by Macmillan Pub Co (first published 1965)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cosmicomics, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cosmicomics

Animal Farm by George OrwellOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayThe Stranger by Albert CamusThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
World's Greatest Novellas
214th out of 389 books — 783 voters
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis BorgesWe by Yevgeny ZamyatinThe Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo CollodiThe Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovThe Neverending Story by Michael Ende
SF Classica Best Translated Into English
49th out of 100 books — 3 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nilesh Kashyap

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

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  ·  review of another edition
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

Climb up on the Moon? Of course we did. All you had to do was row out to it in a boat and, when you were underneath, prop a ladder against her and scramble up.
from Pixar - La Luna

This is what happens when you let a poet loose in a library full of science books: he will turn everything on its head and take you sailing across the galactic plane watching suns coalesce from the primordial dust, he will hold a conversation across light years with neighboring galaxies, he will dance around a multicolored, sparkling cry...more
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
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
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.
Dec 21, 2012 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Why, oh why can't I read in six different languages?

I've been a fan of Calvino for many years and have just finished the Cosmicomics for the first time. I read them one per evening and let them sink in slowly. There is a lot here to absorb and meditate on, and I would definitely suggest reading each of the stories separately, as they were written. One of my favorites in the collection is 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. An excellent brain twister!

I have one criticism/concern, and it is about the tra...more
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.
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
MJ Nicholls
Penguin Classics rounded up the entire output from Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics series in 2009 and collected them into this impressive and expensive hardback book, The Complete Cosmicomics.

The edition I read contains all the stories from the original Cosmicomics, Time & the Hunter, World Memory & Other Cosmicomic Stories, and Cosmicomics Old & New collections, plus one rewritten marvel, The Other Eurydice.

I made the mistake of devouring these stories in one quick glut and probably did...more
collecting all of calvino's cosmicomics writings, the complete cosmicomics features 34 stories spanning some twenty years (or rather, billions, really). included are the dozen tales that make up 1965's cosmicomics, the eleven in 1967's t zero (published in the uk as time and the hunter), four from the posthumous numbers in the dark, and seven stories not previously rendered into english. never released in the united states, the complete cosmicomics is four hundred pages of rich, imaginative fict...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  ·  review of another edition
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
Nick Craske
Reading this was one of the most rewarding reading experiences I've ever had. Enchanting, fantastical and enlightening. A beautiful book with beautiful wordplay and language. Each story takes a scientific "fact" (though sometimes a falsehood by today's understanding), and builds an imaginative story around it. An always extant being called Qfwfq narrates all of the stories save two, each of which is a memory of an event in the history of the universe.
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:
طبعا به خاطر ایتالیایی بود...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
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 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
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
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
Megan Baxter
I'm trying to find just the right word to describe these stories. Science fables isn't quite right - there isn't a moral at the end of each one. I'm torn between science myths and science legends. I think I'm leaning towards myths, in the sense of "stories that tell how something came to be." Let's go with that.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read...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
The 'Cosmicomics' stories are a unique form of storytelling - a mixture of science fiction, humour, fantasy and romance. They are told through the eyes of old Qfwfq, who was there at the Big Bang ('...where else could I have been?') and has experienced everything from evolution in action to the formation of stars, narrating as an old man might to his grandchildren.
The other stories here are just as interesting, turning mathematical conjectures into real scenarios. For example, one story takes pl...more
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
Adam Dalva
Note that this is a review of the Complete Cosmicomics, which throws in 20 extra stories to the first volume that is more commonly reviewed on this site. That first slim volume is a no-brainer gem of a read.

Now then, this is a totally magnificent set that reminds me somewhat of Queneau's Exercise in Style mixed with, oddly enough, some Barth and some Vonnegut. It's definitively not a linked collection, but instead a series of riffs centered around the same character, Qfwfq, reacting to a variety...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
کتاب 1 21 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
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 Marcovaldo

Share This Book

“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 . . . ” 29 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.” 12 likes
More quotes…