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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 17 July 2009
These stories are brilliant. I had read those that had been published in Cosmicomics and Time and the Hunter before but I was really pleased to get this complete volume as a gift. First, there are over 100 pages of new stories (at least new in English translation) which account for over one third of the book. Secondly the print quality is vastly superior to the Picador paperbacks I had, which are now yellowing with age but were also rather blurrily printed in the first place. Thirdly, it is an attractive book and it's nice to have a hardback of a book you love. And finally, reading these stories again after almost twenty years has been great fun.

They are narrated by a character called Qfwfq who has been present in some form or other throughout all time: "All at one point" is set before the big bang, in "Games Without End" he and a friend play marbles with newly formed hydrogen atoms, he is a dinosaur and one of the first aquatic animals to leave the sea, he was present on the earth as its atmosphere formed making it possible to perceive colours, and so on. I wouldn't call them science fiction, rather they are fiction that uses a scientific idea as a starting point. I would strong disagree with hurricanheidi's review - I think the first story, "The Distance of the Moon", is anything but silly - it reminds me a bit of Borges and Garcia Marquez - it is funny and touching. But, to be fair, don't read these stories if you like your fiction straight and rational.

As a narrator Qfwfq is endearing, funny, slightly self important, and a bit of a know-it-all. He is also regularly in love with some ever so slightly unattainable vision of female perfection. If you have read Calvino before these stories are full of the usual wit and whimsy you expect from him. If you liked The Castle of Crossed Destinies or the Marcovaldo stories, you should love these. If you haven't read him before then these stories, or either of the two books I mentioned, are a good place to start.
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on 16 July 2009
I can't let the only current review for this book go unanswered.

Granted, these stories will not be to all tastes. But for those of us who care for such things, these stories are a treat.

Each tale being based on a scientific principle, Calvino's imagination roams free to produce breathtakingly inventive stories. For want of a better phrase, they might be called science fiction fables.

There's really nothing quite like it, but if this is your cup of tea, then you might also try "Sum" by David Eagleman, which considers forty possible afterlifes, and "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman, in which our hero dreams of possible universes. It's a pretty small genre. But a good one.

I wish you happy reading.
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on 12 December 2009
Fantastic! Science fiction? Fiction science, no not exactly..... A wonderful delivery in many cases on the nuts and bolts of being human, the simple ego factors that often go unobserved. The dinosaur story a phenomenal account of alienation, wonderful stories. The Spiral, my all time favourite story which explains perception and existence to me from my own point of view. The absurdity of the moon being close to the Earth?? an excellent story, fairytale, stirring the mud of male emotions. Based on science, told as fiction offering dazziling insights to the human experience.
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on 11 March 2016
Amazing writing. This is one book where I do not want to read it. Let me explain. I read a story and have to wallow in it for some time afterwards, often re-reading. I am afraid of reading the rest because I know that the book will eventually come to an end and I do not want it to end. So just to make it last as long as possible I save the stories for later.
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on 9 January 2010
The Cosmicomics stories posit how various cosmic, metaphysical and evolutionary threshold moments would have come across to a human-like consciousness, had one somehow been around to view them. An entity much like ourselves, complete with love interests, rivals, eccentric family members, gripes, confusions and short term goals reacts to things like the Big Bang, the supplanting of dinosaurs by birds and mammals and so on. It's pretty crazy and totally great--a sort of alternative science fiction, in continuity with Mary Shelley and Poe but having nothing to do with the male power fantasies arbitrarily set in space we'vee all become used to.

It's also even better than that, because these stories, mostly written across the 1960s, show Calvino groping his way toward the heart of his own vision. Many of the later stories rival his acknowledged masterpiece, Invisible Cities, in their insight and power.
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on 2 December 2013
I bought this after reading 'Why E=MC2 and Why You Should Care' by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. In a chapter dealing with the conservation of angular momentum, they mention a short story called 'The Distance of the Moon', which is the opening story in this collection.

The whole book is touching, weird, funny and moving. It's more of an experience than a book - you just have to kind of let it wash over you and enjoy the sheer oddness of it all, rather than trying to understand every sentence.
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on 9 September 2010
All the stories have the same format, a scientific premise followed by a zany story based on that premise. This works surprisingly well, and I really enjoyed the first part of the collection ("Cosmicomics") but I thought the quality went down with the second part ("Time and The Hunter") and I stopped reading half way through. Maybe a "selected Cosmicomics" would be a better buy? Any decent editor should filter out "Crystals" and "Blood Sea"... I might pick it up again sometime, but right now I'm enjoying Brian Green's "Fabric of the Universe" - *real* science and better zany stories... and for "short stories" I'll be turning to Chekhov...
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on 11 October 2011
This is a collection of short stories spanning time, from the origin of the world to modern times. Lots of humour and creative imagery in the story telling. Blows your mind away.
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on 3 October 2015
The imagination of Clavino roams freely in these beautiful stories. This edition is a wonderful addition to the canon of Calvino's work in English. Essential.
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on 4 February 2013
One of the most creative pieces of literature I've ever read. Immensely innovative yet tender at the same time. Superb read.
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