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The Complete Cosmicomics

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,623 ratings  ·  348 reviews
“We were peering into this darkness, criss-crossed with voices, when the change took place: the only real, great change I’ve ever happened to witness, and compared to it the rest is nothing.” — from The Complete Cosmicomics

Italo Calvino’s beloved cosmicomics cross planets and traverse galaxies, speed up time or slow it down to the particles of an instant. Through the eyes
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Mariner Books (first published 1997)
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Cinzia DuBois
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
Take this book, and Moby Dick, and lay them in my arms as I lie in my casket. Then cremate me. It is only in ashes that we shall finally be one, forever and for eternity, and return to the universe the way we entered; as atoms and particles and my how beautiful we shall be.
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Megan Baxter
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement.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
Mohsin Maqbool
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Italo Calvino with a beautiful woman on top of a New York City building.

ONE day towards the fag-end of last year I was looking at some old issues/articles of The New Yorker which, as most readers know, comes out from New York City. I came upon a February 23, 2009 issue that had a short story titled "The Daughters of the Moon" by one Italo Calvino. Yes, the same Italo Calvino of "Invisible Cities", "If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller" and "The Baron in the Trees" fame. There was no stopping me no
The Complete Cosmicomics: Cosmic Tales of the Universe’s Origins
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Along with his brilliant Invisible Cities(1972 in Italian, 1974 in English), one of Italo Calvino’s most enduring creations was his series of whimsical and erudite stories inspired by the origins of the universe and scientific principles, labeled Cosmicomics (1965 in Italian, 1968 in English). They are narrated by a mysterious being called Qfwfq, who tells of the Big Bang and the time before th
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 didn’t read the
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Disclaimer :: Everything that follows is a lie. The book was received by me direct from the publisher for no charge, via that goodreads first reads giveaway.

What was greatest here was the opportunity to reread the original set of Calvino’s cosmicomics collected as Cosmicomics. These little things are simply gems, some of the best fabulist writing you’ll ever come across. Frankly, I prefer them to what Coover does with the fabulation.

All told, this recent publication of The Complete Cosmicomics
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. ...more
Connie G
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Qfwfq, an eternal character who lives through all the ages of the universe, is telling a fable about consumerism. This tale is set in an undisclosed time in New York City "where every object was thrown away at the slightest sign of breakage or aging, at the first dent or stain, and replaced with a new and perfect substitute". But the one imperfect thing was the moon which was smaller and out of its orbit after being bombarded with meteorites. The moon looked like a large pumice stone descending ...more
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
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who are interested in the Universe
Recommended to Junta by: A Winter's Night's Traveler
A collection of short stories I like for its creativity. I should probably take more time with my short story collections since you're bound to appreciate them more that way, letting the ideas from each story seep into your subconscious over a course of weeks, if not months.

Calvino's 34 stories each focus on some entity or event through the history of the Universe, often from the very beginning . I especially liked the first collection in the compilation, Cosmicomics. I had some friends ask abou
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
A link to Italo Calvino's short story The Daughters of the Moon in The New Yorker is available here:

Several of us will be discussing the story from May 8, 2019 here:

My thoughts after having read the story:

Tell me, who today doesn’t criticize consumerism?!

A story I feel I should like more than I actually do. A story you are supposed to like nowadays.

Too make-believe, too phantasmagorical for me.

The last sent
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5 stars despite the fact I totally didn't like a few chapters and I took roughly an year to complete it! You will never read anything like this that calling it a book seems a misnomer. Or to be more precise, nothing like this can ever be accomplished by a writer. This pseudo absurd leap of creativity explores science like never before.

Calvino's collection of stories have as characters 'entities'(for the lack of better word) which morph into characters in a story to explore a science fact. The m
I fell massively in love with the Harvest edition of Cosmicomics when I was a scared 16 year old who hated school, my parents' house, my hometown, and the American political system in varying ratios depending from day to day, and found these weird, serene little fables that escaped time.

And it was damn good to revisit those stories from my youth, as well as the cosmicomiche that I hadn't read yet. I often say that the poetry of science is hidden to artsy folks, because even when popularized, it'
Ian "Marvin" Graye

Otherwise Whimsical Science

Most of the stories in this comprehensive collection start with a scientific quote and extrapolate its scientific premise into the universe of abstract reality and fiction.

The narrator - Qfwfq - is variously a dinosaur, a mollusc, a camel or a mammoth, sometimes possibly just a unicellular organism, a cell ("there was a cell, and the cell was me, and that was that...[even if it had a sense of spiritual fullness, the awareness that this cell was me, this sense of
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really didn't get on with Calvino's writing style in this collection. I found the stories read more as essays or philosophical musings than narratives. I found the stories often confusing and over-elaborate. The treatment of female characters really bothered me in this collection. The main character was overly concerned with possessing, in some way or another, the women in the story, a theme repeated far too often. This is, however, prompt many good discussion between myself and Victoria from ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cosmicomics was a joy to read. Qfwfq, the universe's know it all experiences every bit of the universe and journals the experiences. There is tragedy in the story if the last dinosaur, certain degree of naughty cosmic joke when Qfwfq and a friend bet on making newer and prettier galaxies, romanticism as the families leap to the moon when the earth was very young and the Moon was very near, pragmatism while Qfwfq becomes a small sea creature and the infinite possibilities the universe offers in a ...more
Hákon Gunnarsson
I'm not entirely sure where to place this Calvino short story, because it is just so odd. Shall we call it magic realism, or fantasy? It's somewhere along those lines. Anyway, it doesn't really matter where it is placed, it is fascinating.

It is a story that deals with our over consumption, and there is a clear moral behind it. Calvino is talking about the way our modern society has lost itself in the shops, and may be destroying itself and the planet because of that. Thing is, Calvino is not mo
Yehia Nasser
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite
A Sign in Space
the aquatic uncle
the dinosaurs
the origin of the birds
the chase
as long as the sun lasts
at daybreak

Danielle Bodnar
I enjoyed many of the stories, as they were very imaginative and abstract in their depictions of not only cosmic events and the development of the universe, but also of universal human conditions. But the collection, and many of the stories, are very much a product of their time (1960s-1980s) and thus a VERY dated view of heteronormativity comes through. Themes of love and desire permeate the stories, and Qwfwq is naturally assumed to be "male" and the being of his desire is female. I suppose th ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
Probably my favourite ever work of fiction. If I hadn’t discovered the first set of Calvino’s ‘cosmicomic’ tales more than 20 years ago I certainly wouldn’t be the kind of writer I now am. Some people might gnash their teeth to hear that... These are the chronicles of Qfwfq, who has existed since the beginning of time and seen every major cosmological event in the history of the universe. His experiences are detailed in a set of linked tales that demonstrate Calvino’s incredibly sophisticated ab ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new edition contains the previously published stories and quite a few new ones. It was a joy to reread the old ones. The new ones are equally original and thought-provoking, but some of them didn't have the same playfulness of the old Qfwfq telling his stories.

Oftentimes sci-fi is limited to a variation on time travel or adolescent fantasies of inter-galactic wars. Not with Calvino. Calvino reaches far back into the history of our planet and the universe to tell mind-bending stories via an
Adam Dalva
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
T.Kay Browning
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The primary joy of this book was how Calvino shoehorned human emotions, relationships and passions into the most absurd places in the history of the universe, pre-big bang, pre-time, as the last of the dinosaurs. First it strikes you as absurd, but then you realize it is really the human experience that is absurd, how strangely marvelous that hurtling through space and time we reach out to each other in faltering and broken ways, searching for connection in a relentlessly strange existence.

My fa
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazing
I think Salman Rushdie's quote on the book jacket says it all, "If you have never read Cosmicomics, you have before you... the most joyful reading experience of your life."

Italo Calvino is one of the greatest authors to put pen to paper, his stories are simple, yet profound. Cosmicomics is mostly short stories about Qfwfq, a being that has witnessed everything, from the creation of the universe, the movement of the galaxies, the coming of people to earth and so much more. Calvino's amazing imagi
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this collection of short stories, Calvino has been able to take what some might find as boring information taken from a science textbook and make them into compelling narratives. There's a romance in the evolutionary biology of a mollusk, a betting game between two friends tells the creation and destruction of the universe, a family drama unfolds in the formation of nebulae, and a series of quarrels between a couple are illustrated in the process of crystallization. Calvino is able to take th ...more
Yeshi Dolma
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Immediately drawn in by the title, this was a good short read! Calvino created a world which smoothly enters and treads into magical realism, I enjoyed the writing! The moon almost retires into the dump which houses everything not-new in the super-consumerist society of the time, daughters run naked and join hands, sit on the speeding traffic determine to rescue, parades of production-gods are hacked; as bizarre as it may sound- read to enjoy/happy to discuss! Recommended! There's a lot to it! ...more
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[Around the World Challenge: Italy] This is a compilation of short stories about the universe and the origin of species, but told in an allegorical, fantastic, weird, philosophical and thought-provoking way. It's creative and smart but not always accessible, I think you have to be interested in those themes in the first place to enjoy this book.
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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 easy to classify; much of his writing has an air reminiscent to th

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