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Kalpa Imperial (Kalpa Imperial #1-2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  640 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Kalpa es el Imperio Más Vasto Que Nunca Existió. Un imperio a cuyos emperadores, más que por sus nombres, se recuerda por sus dinastías, que no es posible recorrer en su totalidad en una única vida, ni se recuerda con precisión qué es lo que hubo antes, si es que hubo algo, tan sólo que ha caído y se ha levantado innumerables veces.
Paperback, 222 pages
Published 2000 by Ediciones Gigamesh (first published 1983)
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Althea Ann
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course, I read this because it was translated by Ursula K. LeGuin.
I can see why she liked it - the book touches on many of the themes that LeGuin deals with in her own work.
As usual (actually, without a known exception) LeGuin will not steer you wrong. (I've started buying any book that I see LeGuin has blurbed, and they are ALL good.)

However, although the book is very good, it's not as good as LeGuin.

The book is a series of stories all set in an imaginary (but rather realistic) ancient empi
This set of short stories didn't wow me, but I did like a few of them quite a lot. There was only one story that I had a lot of trouble staying engaged in. I did really enjoy the Storyteller's voice as he relates a story about different rulers in the Empire. There was constant strife and violence in the Empire, but I particularly liked that Angelica Gorodischer did not focus on that, rather she focused on character. My favourite stories from this book were: "The Two Hands", "The End of a Dynasty ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kalpa Imperial gathers 11 stories, each a piece of the history of the Greatest Empire That Never Was. The narrator, who seems to resemble the typical Medieval storyteller, narrates that the empire was destroyed and reconstructed several times. There were several imperial dynasties, good and bad emperors, and, what I liked the most: empresses.

I normally have issues with short stories because I tend to drift to other books that take more of my time. That didn’t happen with this book. There are so
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
If you like Ursula Le Guin's work, it's worth trying Kalpa Imperial, even though Le Guin isn't the author, only the translator. She was obviously the ideal choice of translator for Gorodischer's style; there's no sense of distance from the story, or rather stories, that you often get with translations.

It's a bit of a strange book, a collection of connected stories that don't follow on from each other -- often the only link is in the common setting of the Empire That Never Was. Consequently, ther
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
In some ways interesting, and with some clever writing. I'm simply not the right audience for a series of what are essentially unrelated descriptive works, often with little in the way of plot or character.
Grady McCallie
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in Spanish in Argentina in the early 1980s, Kalpa Imperial presents a cycle of tales set in a long-running fantasy empire. Ursula Le Guin's 2003 translation into English flows beautifully. In a 2004 interview (, the author welcomes comparisons to Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Franz Kafka; and discourages association of her work with magic realism. Indeed, the sprawling history of the empire's (current) capital, 'Concerning the ...more
Miquel Codony
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Bueno, un chasco.
Después de tantos años oyendo hablar de Kalpa Imperial y con las ganas que le tenía no me ha convencido en absoluto. En parte porque es un tipo de literatura que no me llega, posiblemente no sea el mejor lector para este libro. No me gusta el tono... ¿profético? y propone una lírica que no me interesa. He oído hablar mucho de su importancia y no sé si estaes real o es una ilusión generada por los defensores del libro. Para mí es, sobre todo, aburrido. Ojo, no es que esté mal es
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely not a typical fantasy. More alike to a collection of origin myths,fables and historical recollection mostly made up by an eccentric story teller on the spot.
We get nothing more than snippets of the vast history of this great empire.
The delivery is very tongue in cheek, with a nice arrogant turn from the narrator, some of the historical facts border on laugh out loud while still being marginally believable.
So much becomes a comment on general history and culture.
The ending is a bit of
Mateo R.
De adolescente me encantaban Tolkien, Eddings, R. A. Salvatore y tantos otros autores de literatura fantástica, y creo que si entonces hubiera leído Kalpa imperial no me hubiera gustado. Hubiera preferido personajes menos ambivalentes, finales menos vagos (y probablemente más felices), más del clásico enfrentamiento del Bien contra el Mal, menos corrupción y decadencia y más guerras heroicas, definitivamente más magia y criaturas fantásticas, y (quisquilloso y purista en lo irrelevante) no hubie ...more
Guadalupe Campos
La imaginación grandiosa e irreverente y la textura a la vez barroca y en la que nada sobra que se despliegan en Kalpa Imperial son de las que te dejan sin palabras.
Me queda, al margen, la curiosidad de qué habrá hecho Ursula LeGuin para traducir "La vieja ruta del incienso".
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
This is an early front runner for "most peculiar book I read in 2016"...Not really a proper novel but a series of connected short stories forming the history of an Empire. I found the lack of chronological order confusing, but otherwise the book was quite fetching and had a lot to say on the nature of history and story telling. It reminded me a lot of Italo Calvino's. I'm going to have to think on it some more before reviewing it further. I also find it fitting that was translated by Ursula K. L ...more
Zen Cho
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation, sff
Now, is this voice Gorodischer, or Le Guin? Presumably Gorodischer, but the style is so very much that of a female sff fan/writer of a certain era that I wonder. I mean, I guess since it's a translation quite a lot of Le Guin had to get into it.

I liked this one less than I thought I would. Some parts of it are good -- I liked the Empress Abderjhalda and the last story with the princess and the twentier (some kind of desert guide) who tells her stories based on the Iliad and Odyssey, peopled with
I'm uncertain how to review this, because I feel like I read it at the wrong time. I'm hurriedly grading papers right now, so when I sit down to read a book, I need something that immediately sweeps me away. This is not that kind of book. Kalpa Imperial is a history of a fictional empire as told by a storyteller. The storyteller takes different periods of history and moves from broad descriptions to personal histories. Each chapter takes up an entirely different period of history.

Certainly, a un
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This book is amazing. It's a fantasy, it's a history, it's a novel while simultaneously being a collection of short fiction; it's some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read. The use of language is gorgeous, fluid and lovely. The stories are confusing, enlightening, heartbreaking, wonderful. I absolutely adored this book. Ursula K. Le Guin is possibly my very favorite writer, and here she's translating for Angélica Gorodischer, who seems to be the Argentinian version of a Le Guin. This book ...more
This is one where I feel guilty for not liking the book better. I loved the writing and found many of the individual stories compelling, but ultimately I wanted something a little more connected and structured. But that clearly isn't what the author was trying to produce. They wanted something more drifting and dreamlike, and they succeeded in writing that. I'm just not convinced the result will stick in my head. If it does, I may end up adding a star.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slipstream
There must be the seeds of twenty different epic stories in this book. Gorodischer wrote Kalpa Imperial as two volumes twenty-five years ago, but the English translation (by Ursula le Guin) is fairly recent. Early on, I could feel le Guin's style creeping in (not unfavorably), but the author's own air of mystery and myth suffused every page. Very satisfying.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Voici un roman qui nous arrive tout droit d'Argentine. Le texte n'est pas tout jeune puisqu'il est paru initialement en 1983, juste à la sortie des années de dictature argentine. Il s'agit là de sa première traduction en français. En Argentine, il est sorti sous la forme de deux ouvrages, regroupés pour l'édition française.

Kalpa imperial nous relate, par le biais de différents récits qui nous sont rapportés par un ou des conteurs (l'ambiguïté sur le(s) narrateur(s) ne sera jamais levée) des mome
This is a low fantasy short story collection about an empire that doesn't exist.

I really struggled with these stories, especially in the first half. The writing style is layered and often a foot back from the action; it feels like somewhere between Herodotus's Histories and Tolkien's Similarion. I know that I've read some work by Le Guin that also hits this way, so I'm not sure how much of this is Gorodischer and how much is the translation, but it is hypnotic and sometimes difficult to unravel
Felicidad Martínez
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasía

Sentimientos encontrados con esta antología. Cierta persona, de cuyo criterio me fío y además me conoce bien, me dijo que no estaba seguro de si a mí me iba a gustar Kalpa Imperial. Pues bien, no puedo decir que no me ha gustado, pero tampoco me ha... emocionado.

De Angélica solo había leído Trafalgar, que me moló por esa retranca y mala baba que destila; y en Kalpa Imperial he confirmado que Gorodischer es una narradora nata, potente. Eso es indiscutible.

Ahora bien, a pesar de leerme los
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great Ursula LeGuin of recent passing translated this loosely connected stories about Empire, emperors, and power.

If you are looking for a novel, this is not your book. But, if you are looking for evocative and provocative descriptions of government ame power, to be turned around in one's palate like fine chocolate or wine, by all means pick this one up.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting series of short stories about a vast and long-lived fantastical empire. I found them creative and I liked some more than others. In general, this took me a bit to get through, as it was easy to put down between tales.
Qué bronca cuando te encontrás con esos libros que sabés que son geniales pero que no era tu momento para leerlos y no te atrae.
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
-Haciendo género de una manera muy especial, rebosando sensibilidad y señalando verdades universales.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción (y no Narrativa Fantástica a pesar de que lo pueda parecer e incluso siga algunos de sus caminos, al menos en mi humilde opinión, aunque sea de un tipo un tanto especial y el hecho se le pueda pasar por alto a algún lector. Pero en realidad ni siquiera importa).

Lo que nos cuenta. Un anónimo narrador comparte con el lector 11 relatos sobre eventos ocurridos en algún mome
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
-Haciendo género de una manera muy especial, rebosando sensibilidad y señalando verdades universales.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción (y no Narrativa Fantástica a pesar de que lo pueda parecer e incluso siga algunos de sus caminos, al menos en mi humilde opinión, aunque sea de un tipo un tanto especial y el hecho se le pueda pasar por alto a algún lector. Pero en realidad ni siquiera importa).

Lo que nos cuenta. Un anónimo narrador comparte con el lector 11 relatos sobre eventos ocurridos en algún mome
Bogi Takács
(3.5 stars)

It started off *very* strongly, but the mythic/fairytale style really ran out of steam around two-thirds of the way into the book. The last two stories were a slog for me, and the overlap with the real world seemed pointless and was tedious to read. I still didn't regret that I picked up the book, but I was also somewhat relieved when it was over.

Also, I must say that while the book features a positive depiction of crossdressing, it also has multiple random and unexpected homophobic,
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic book of stories about an empire so real that you will believe that you live there. A touch magical realism, a touch fantasy, and enough real-ness that it works all so well together. My good friend mailed this one to me and I really appreciate it because I am currently fascinated with the death of story-telling and what it will take to bring it back into its rightful role in society and this book reminding me first that storytelling is not dead and second it has so much to gi ...more
Edward Rathke
I think the biggest issue for me with this book is that I didn't understand it as a short story collection until way too late. I enjoyed all of the stories. They were funny and playful and interesting, but none of it added together, which gives the book an even more absurd feel.

Reminds me of Borges a bit, but more firmly planted in the fantastic. Overall, I'd recommend it, but only if you're in the mood for many nonintersecting stories about the worlds greatest empire that never existed. The na
Berna Labourdette
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritos
Otro de mis libros favoritos. Esta antología de relatos de fantasía reúne once relatos, once fragmentos de la historia del Imperio Más Vasto que Nunca Existió. Por el narrador sabemos que el Imperio fue destruido y reconstruido infinidad de veces, que su historia recomienza una y otra vez con cada nueva dinastía de Emperadores y Emperatrices y cada historia resulta más apasionante que la anterior, por sencilla que parezca al comienzo. Está escrito de manera exquisita, con una atención a los deta ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. At first I kept trying to tie the stories together better, but if you just accept each one for what it is, they begin to come together on their own. Each a play on govt and human nature and society with a lot unsaid. She trusts her audience to imagine a little.
Brianne Reeves
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
For the most part, these stories get better as the book goes on. Though they don't always connect or build off of one another, they focus on a general theme: power, it's acquisition, and what motivates the powerful. An interesting read.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please, add new book "Kalpa imperial" 5 34 Aug 17, 2016 12:21AM  
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Angélica Beatriz del Rosario Arcal de Gorodischer es una multipremiada autora argentina reconocida como una de las figuras femeninas más importantes dentro de la Ciencia-Ficción y Fantasía iberoamericana, aunque ha trabajado otros géneros.

Traducida al alemán y al inglés (en este idioma la traductora fue Ursula K. Le Guin), es autora de una docena de novelas y multitud de relatos.
More about Angélica Gorodischer

Other books in the series

Kalpa Imperial (2 books)
  • Kalpa Imperial. Libro I: La casa del poder
  • Kalpa Imperial. Libro II: El imperio más vasto

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“Why say 'the world is complicated' and stop there? I say the world is complicated but not incomprehensible. Only you have to look at it steadily. Isn't it true a person's shoulder hurts sometimes because they've got a disorder in their stomach? And then what does a stupid doctor do? Order massages for the shoulder. What does a wise doctor do? He takes time to think about it, watches the patient carefully, gives him some medicine for his stomach, and the pain in his shoulder goes away. Better yet, he explains to his patients what they have to do to keep their stomach from getting out of order. One day his patient's going to get old and die, just like himself, just like us, and one day, incredible as it may seem, the Empire's going to die, and how foolish people are who whine about it, and whine about how complicated the world is. A seamstress's room is complicated too, but even at night, with the lights out, she can reach out in the darkness and find the yellow thread, the needles, the pincushion. We couldn't, because we don't know the order things are in, in the seamstress's room. And we can't see the order the world is in. But all the same it's there, right under our eyes.” 5 likes
“As the wise say, a sensible man looks after his garden, and a coward looks after his money; a just man cares about his city and a crazy man cares about the government; and a wise man studies the thickness of fern-fronds.” 2 likes
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