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Cosmicomics

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  17,079 ratings  ·  1,145 reviews
Italo Calvino's extraordinary imagination and intelligence combine here in an enchanting series of stories about the evolution of the universe. He makes his characters out of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. They disport themselves among galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydr ...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published October 4th 1976 by Mariner Books (first published 1965)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  17,079 ratings  ·  1,145 reviews


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Ahmad Sharabiani
Le Cosmicomiche = Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino

Cosmicomics is a collection of twelve short stories by Italo Calvino first published in Italian in 1965 and in English in 1968. Each story takes a scientific "fact" (though sometimes a falsehood by today's understanding), and builds an imaginative story around it.

The Distance of the Moon: The first and probably the best known story. Calvino takes the fact that the Moon used to be much closer to the Earth, and builds a story about a love triangle among
...more
Nilesh Kashyap
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Steven Godin
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Twelve dazzling stories from Calvino, where his ambition here was to create a ludic fiction that could reflect complex advances in science without losing his playful nature and sense of magic and lightness. The stories he wrote were direct attempts to assimilate new thinking in cosmology in recognisably human - and comic - dimensions.

Calvino prefaces his stories with a fact or hypothesis about the universe, then he moves on to get inside these vast abstractions, with his trademark qualities that
...more
Bradley
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 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
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: eurolit, novels
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. ...more
Trevor
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I started this book years ago and then forgot I’d started it. It’s an odd little book. A bit like a series of modern-day myths based around our ‘scientific’ understandings of the universe.

Generally, the characters aren’t actually human, but we are talking anthropomorphic characters all the same. Sexual desire, unrequited love, trying to leave your mark. A lent a friend Mitchell’s The Last Dinosaur Book and she mentioned that one of the stories in this is about a dinosaur. I remember knowing tha
...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
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Andrea
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Rowena
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
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. ...more
Kristi  Siegel
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
Christopher
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a strange and creative work. The briefest of descriptions about Calvino say something like "he's one of the world's greatest fabulists". So, generally people know what they are getting into when they crack the cover. But I'm not sure that I know what I experienced, even now.

So, the set up is easy--a bunch of stories about the evolution of the universe. But what the hell does that even mean?

For one, each story begins with an italicized blurb that reads like something out of a science te
...more
Tom
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Pictures at an Exhibition
I have never written any comments here on Goodreads before, and even though there are a lot of masterpieces I really need to pay the proper homage to, I felt the urge to declare in a couple of words my love for Calvino right after closing the Cosmicomiche. Italo has the ability to both let me live again the enthusiasm for the immaginative realities that animated my childhood as a voracious little reader and to impress my more mature, young-adult mind with his crucial innovations, investigations ...more
Hanne
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
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
Kirstin
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Cosmicomics is just what it says it is, a series of short comedies about the cosmos. The opening story, The Distance of the Moon, is so wonderful, I smiled the enitre time I read it. Calvino takes scientific facts and theories and gives them a human perspective(without any human characters), and does it all in the most simple, quirky way you could imagine. I loved every one of them. The Aquatic Uncle and The Spiral do deserve a special mention for being so lovely. How appropriate, to give this b ...more
Linda
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
My second try at reading Calvino and I definitely liked this one more than Invisible Cities.

Cosmicomics has an interesting structure where each story is prefaced with a scientific hypothesis. The story is then set within that hypothesis where our narrator, Qfwfq, relates the story from the time he experienced each particular event in time. I enjoyed the humor, and also just the wackiness of imagining Qfwfq and his friends and family living before the universe had expanded (it was quite crowded!
...more
Henry Martin
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nate
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
Rob
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Greg
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Daniel Villines
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Tentatively, Convenience
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
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. ...more
A.M. Steiner
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A charming and funny collection of short stories, following the misadventures of sentient essences through time and space.

As you can probably gather from that description, Cosmicomics is hard to define - it's certainly very different to Calvino's cinematic noir-ish norm. In terms of genre, it combines elements of hard science fiction, weird fiction and magical realism. Think A Brief History of Time crossed with 1000 Years of Solitude. For example: one of my favourite chapters involved a subatomi
...more
Hadrian
Dec 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
A collection of a dozen short stories -- maybe fables -- framed around the distant cosmology of the universe. Calvino combines experimental settings with human drama.

To give a couple of examples, a narrator looks through a telescope through a galaxy one hundred million light years ago, and finds a sign, "I SAW YOU". Then he rushes back to find if he did anything embarrassing a hundred million years ago. Or, to give another example, an amphibian is embarrassed by a relative who is still aquatic
...more
David Rubenstein
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: evolution, fantasy
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
Fabianna Himet
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book played a huge part in my falling in love with literature! It’s both the smile that escapes you and the inevitable knitted brows you get when a reading shakes you. The book comprises 12 stories where the unpronounceable-and-ever-existing Qfwfq journeys across time and space, through everything and nothing. It’s playful, and it'll feel like children proposing outlandish ultra-creative accounts of how the universe evolved, except that it's written with superior skill. The stories become s ...more
Jamie
I kind of want to make some babies right now, just so I can curl them up and read them the history of the universe according to Calvino.
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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
...more

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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 . . . ” 59 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.” 35 likes
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