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Italo Calvino: Le cosmicomiche (Cosmicomics)

Like other of his works, this is a series of interconnected stories. Each story revolves around a scientific fact (or, at least, what was once a scientific fact but may no longer be so), which is briefly described in the manner of an encyclopedia at the beginning of the story. The stories are narrated by Qfwfq, who has been around since before the Big Bang, and has taken on many forms and had many adventures since then. All the stories, of course, make fun of scientific developments, starting with the Big Bang. The third story, for example, is called Tutto in un punto (All At One Point), because everyone and everything existed at a single point. Mrs. Ph(i)Nko said she only wished she had more space so that she could make tagliatelle for everyone and everyone started wishing for more space and suddenly the Big Bang occurred. The beauty of this and the other stories is the sheer illogicality of it all, yet it somehow makes sense. Stories about going to the moon by ladder, as it was so near to Earth, or the problems of living on a planet where matter has not condensed or being the last dinosaur or a planet where there are no colours are all very cleverly done and both very funny but told with considerable seriousness.

Publishing history

First published 1965 by Einaudi
First published in English 1968 by Harcourt, Brace & World
Translated by William Weaver