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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic and comic
In the beginning, there was... Qfwfq? Italo Calvino apparently thought so -- his magical-realist fantasy "Cosmicomics" is one of the two best novels he ever wrote. Enchanting, surreal and whimsical, this is a look at the history of the cosmos that you will never find in any astronomy books.
Qfwfq is an ancient being -- he was a child playing with his family...
Published on 28 Dec. 2005 by E. A Solinas

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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Calvino's best
"Cosmicomics" is far too whimsical, and far too flighty. Calvino is an excellent writer, but he gave himself too much leeway with this one -- it's got nothing to hold it together, no weight or sense of drama. Read Calvino's "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller..." for one of the 20th Century's great novels.
Published on 16 Oct. 1998


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic and comic, 28 Dec. 2005
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
In the beginning, there was... Qfwfq? Italo Calvino apparently thought so -- his magical-realist fantasy "Cosmicomics" is one of the two best novels he ever wrote. Enchanting, surreal and whimsical, this is a look at the history of the cosmos that you will never find in any astronomy books.
Qfwfq is an ancient being -- he was a child playing with his family when the matterless void began to produce.... "things." Along with others of his kind, he has lived an immeasurably long lifetime, watching the Big Bang itself -- uniquely described in this case -- and the galaxy form, the earth cool and start to produce life.
And so Qfwfq goes through the ages, with all the rivalries, crushes, lost loves and exciting discoveries that a person experiences in their life (even though his life is uncounted millions long). And behind each of his experiences is a great cosmic event -- the Big Bang itself is caused by a loving aunt-like friend, an adolescent crush follows the moon away from the Earth, a rivalry forms between himself and the nasty Kwgwk, and his first love is doomed by his love of color on Earth's forming surface.
It takes a truly unique imagination to create something like this -- Calvino takes forming planets, whirling galaxies and ultraviolet rays, and gives them a whimsical spin. One moment he is taking your breath away with his descriptions of the Milky Way, the next he's getting smiles for the image of Qfwfq and his pals playing marbles with hydrogen atoms.
It's that mixture of grandeur and innocent whimsy that makes "Cosmicomics" so good. Not to mention, of course, Calvino's talent for poetic prose. In less than a paragraph, he can convey the vastness of the universe; in less than a chapter, he can describe the beauty of primeval Earth. In detail. Now that's really something.
Most striking of all may be the story of a motherly she-particle, whose love for him and the other beings caused "the concept of space and, properly speaking, space itself, and time, and universal gravitation, and the gravitation universe, making possible billions and billions of suns, and of planets, and fields of wheat." It takes a few minutes to sink in that Calvino wrote that the universe was first sparked by love.
Calvino never really explains what Qfwfq is -- I suppose he's an atom or something of the sort, although how atoms have "long silvery arms" or build bamboo bridges. Yet he shows us the lovable, fallible being trying out different forms through the epochs, sometimes lonely and sometimes not. And he gives Qfwfq such life, sweetness and enthusiasm that it's hard not to like him, even if we don't know exactly what he is.
Then again, getting into specifics might wreck the funny, poignant "Cosmicomics" -- it's about love and the universe, and not even the lead character can distract from that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre and Beautiful: Cosmicomics is Unique, 23 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
Nothing is ever straight forward in the literary world of Italo Calvino and Cosmicomics is no exception. This collection of surreal imaginings, each one launching off from a pithy scientific statement, anthropomorphise the raw matter of primaeval galaxies into family units, demigods of primitive matter wile away millennia playing marbles with hydrogen atoms, the moon is explored from a boat via a ladder, and a curmudgeon coelacanth seduces his nephew's fiancé. This bizarre, yet beautiful compilation of tales, are much more than pure surrealistic indulgences. They contain within them a delicate undercurrent of social comment woven into each narrative and in many propel the mind of the reader off on a journey to the beginnings of the Earth or even the Universe in a quite unique fashion. What seems to me the best thing about these stories is their wonderful way of inspiring further enquiry. I found myself consulting Darwin and Hawkings after finishing different chapters. This book is quite different from many Calvino stories but has at its core his ubiquitous playful experimentation with narrative. By the way, it is also very amusing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At home in Cosmos, 10 April 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
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 opposition to our imagination when we stare in the sky. And this is the starting point of Italo Calvino's wonderful book "Cosmicomics." It is in a sense a variation on the theme of Cosmos. Each one of the chapters in the book takes a certain scientific fact about the Cosmos, its evolution and the present state, and turns it into an imaginative story with a deeply personal theme. The main protagonist, whimsically named Qfwfq, is present in many forms throughout history of the Cosmos and he narrates its main events through very personal eyes. Many of the stories are love stories of the most imaginative kind, which is not surprising since Calvino is known and excels at that genre. Overall this is a wonderful book that tries to reestablish a very human face of the Cosmos. I highly recommend it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging stories spanning millenia and crossing infite space, 31 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
This book doesn't seem to find the acclaim of Invisible Cities but for me it was more enjoyable. Is the problem that it veers to close to science-fiction for some tastes? How could you fail to be won over by the dinosaur who catches a train? Or Lieutenant Fenimore falling through infinite space, fighting with the hero for the girl while separated by the laws governing parallel lines? Not just one for the sci-fi buffs.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't really be compared with If On A Winters Night, 9 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
Having read this book and the above mentioned title I must say that my preference is for Cosmicomics. If you have a well developed 'sense of the ridiculous' then you will love this book - it is one of the funniest that I have read.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Calvino's best, 16 Oct. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Cosmicomics (Paperback)
"Cosmicomics" is far too whimsical, and far too flighty. Calvino is an excellent writer, but he gave himself too much leeway with this one -- it's got nothing to hold it together, no weight or sense of drama. Read Calvino's "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller..." for one of the 20th Century's great novels.
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Cosmicomics
Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino (Paperback - 4 Mar. 1994)
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