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The Complete Cosmicomics Hardcover – September 16, 2014
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"A major event in the English language to give even more evidence why the great Italian post-modern master was among the greatest of writers in his sadly truncated lifetime...marvelous, poetic, hilarious, sublime and wholly original tales which could please the brightest and most advanced students of literary post-modernism as well as the brightest and most advanced of pubescent readers...Over the course of years from the time of their invention, the tales first occasioned by 'Cosmicomics' became among the greatest achievements of a writer who couldn’t possibly have been more deserving of our era’s most fabled literary award." --Buffalo News
From the Inside Flap
In Italo Calvinos cosmicomics, primordial beings cavort on the nearby surface of the moon, play marbles with atoms, and bear ecstatic witness to Earths first dawn. These dazzling stories cross planets and traverse galaxies, speed up time or slow it down to the particles of an instant. Through the eyes of an ageless guide named Qfwfq, Calvino explores natural phenomena and tells the story of the origins of the universe. Poignant, fantastical, and wise, these beloved tales relate complex scientific and mathematical concepts to our everyday world.
Written between the 1960s and the 1980s, the cosmicomics were pivotal in the development of Calvinos experimental style. The Complete Cosmicomics brings together in one volume all thirty-four of these deft, enchanting stories for the first time in English including seven never before published in this country. This definitive collection reconfirms the cosmicomics as an enduring literary achievement.
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If you like science fiction like Arthur C. Clark, or Isaac Asimov, then for sure you'll enjoy this book.
The translation is fluid and literary, there are a few places where things get a little confused but these are vanishingly rare, and they are hard to spot because of the unreliable narrator.
As to the work itself, it is a lesser Calvino work overall, though several of the stories are absolutely first class, others are quite draggy, or even, rarely, completely incoherent. The main problem is that Calvino is writing something that is a sort of flippant riff on the work of Borges but at ten times the length. Some stories, which run around 10+ pages, are perfect, but others just sort of agonizingly beat the concept to death, most however are in between. As to the stories themselves they are cheeky and irreverent while often coming very close to profundity. As an earth scientist they are an interesting view into the scientific ideas still current in the late 60s and though many are outdated, and some even never reputable at all, they are amusingly handled. Occasionally the ridiculousness of the idea's implication is made far more apparent than the scientific literature ever was, so to me this was an added bonus.
For the most part these stories are very much of their time, the 60s and 70s, which can rob the, peculiarly of some of heir immediacy. On the whole I enjoyed them, but it was not infrequent that I wanted to abandon a particular story. In short this is a nice collection, if you have already read Calvino and liked him you will enjoy these, but they are not a particularily good introduction to him.
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