“Cosmicomics” by Italo Calvino

Don’t be taken aback by the title “Comics” as that is perhaps only used to befuddle the reader. The book actually portrays stories based on complex scientific phenomenon, perhaps in a lighter vain. It is akin to a modern complex sculpture like the sculpture of the soldier on horse Tate in London; you can ascribe different interpretations if seen from different angles.

The character: Qfwfq appears in each of the 12 stories in different forms. One can keep interpreting the meaning of the name Qfwfq. Wikipedia says it is a palindrome and represents 2nd law of thermodynamics. Perhaps that was why Calvino chose the letters Q and w (representing heat and work) and this suits the character as he is depicted to have been present forever in one form or the other (even as a dinosaur). Also I noticed: Q is the 17th alphabet and W is the 23rd alphabet, 23-17= 6 and the 6th alphabet is f, the letter in between.

My favorite story is the first one: The Distance of the Moon. It is a beautiful story about unrequited love. Like all stories, it begins with stating the scientific fact upon which it is based but the fact itself is ironical. The moon attracts the tides on earth but the tides push the moon away and the earth loses energy. If we personify Moon as the female and Earth as Male then it implies the Female attracts the Male but when the Male reaches out to her, she recoils, which tires out the male. This is the general rule of attraction. The harder you strive to reach out to your love, the more you end up pushing the other person away and this jades you for future relationships.

The other character’s name Pvd reminds me of Phd and the child’s name Xlthlx for me implies a child born in the XIth hour (perhaps just before she becomes the moon) and lx is just repeated to make it a palindrome.

The culmination of the story with Mrs. Pvd Pvd ending up on the moon actually lives upto the metaphor “She becomes the Moon” and rationalizes the age-old habit of scorching for the face of your estranged lover on the surface of the moon.

Another interesting description is the child Xlthlx catching transparent “Medusas”. I can’t help but wonder if something has been lost in translation or does Calvino uses Medusa to make it humorous or again highlight catching something unattainable.

The Dinosaurs also is an amazing story about identity crisis. Of how the New One doesn’t recognize who he is and just believes himself to be a part of the herd. It’s difficult to be different, even for a Dinosaur.

I am not a big fan of science fiction but this one completely bowled me over. A must read for anyone fascinated by science, particularly cosmology!!


A dreamer. An intellectual, spoiled by the world of literature trying to find sanity through traveling and expression through Visual Art and writing! Hope you like my expressions on this blog!!

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Posted in Book Review
3 comments on ““Cosmicomics” by Italo Calvino
  1. jasmine says:

    The story “The Distance of the Moon” has an interesting name.
    “She becomes the moon”, sounds very nice, is there a Hindi equivalent saying of this? I seem to have heard it before…
    I am touched by how your recent fascination has made you pick up and appreciate a Short Story collection.
    Primo Levi (another Italian) has a collection of Short Stories called “The Periodic Table”. We should read it too perhaps.

  2. pankajunk says:

    i am a total sci fi buff. you can serve me ANYTHING on the planet with aliens. i loved the part about the laws of attraction. can totally relate to it.

  3. It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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