Cosmicomics (3/3)

Reading a Calvino novel always goes so fast for me. His writing flows so smoothly that I can easily go from page to page and forget.. that this is the last installment of the book!

The Dinosaurs

By its end all the Dinosaurs were dead…

All except me,–Qfwfq corrected,–because, for a certain period, I was also a Dinosaur: about fifty million years, I’d say, and I don’t regret it; if you were a Dinosaur in those days, you were sure you were in the right, and you made everyone look up to you.

I feel you Qfwfq (me? I agree with myself?). Qfwfq, isn’t sure that he isn’t a Dinosaur anymore.

I always felt like a Dinosaur in the midst of enemies.

Oh Ofwfq, they call him ‘the Ugly One’ in this society, because he isn’t like the rest of them. Little do they know, he was a Dinosaur. After a fight in town, he becomes very well respected, though he consistently worries that people have discovered that he is a Dinosaur. They hear rumors that the Dinosaurs are coming back, so they elect Ofwfq to lead them.

Now I recognized the greatness of spirit that had made us choose to disappear rather than live in a world no longer suited to us.

Thoughts Ofwfq soon forgets his identity as a Dinosaur, and realizes that Dinosaurs only live on in the minds of the survivors. This tale was really beautiful, but also one of those that makes you wonder, “Hm.. is Calvino trying to say something else here?” Is he? I don’t know.


The Form of Space

I hoped I would be able sometimes to catch her eye, but as she fell, Ursula H’x was always intent on filing and polishing her nails running her comb through her long, smooth hair, and she never glanced toward me.

In this story Qfwfq is falling, forever it seems like. There is a slight sprinkle of math thrown in, which I appreciated.

Thoughts this is more of a running dialogue, which became a little bit convoluted. He weaves in beautiful imagery, the l, m, n, d, g (*if you read it you will see what I mean!), but it is not my favorite story.


The Light-Years

This short story relies on the scientific premise that looking through a telescope, at things very, very, very far away, we are really looking into the past (because of the speed the images took to get to our eyes). Qfwfq sees a sign that says “I saw you,” referring to an event 200 million years ago; he is worried.

In fact, when I thought how many years had already gone by since that I SAW YOU, I was convinced the bad impression must now have been erased by time and followed by a probably positive evaluation, or one, in any case, that corresponded more to reality.

Eventually, signs are popping up in many galaxies and Qfwfq gets desperate,

To each of these I SAW YOUs I answered with signs marked by contemptuous indifference, such as OH REALLY? HOW NICE or else FAT LOT I CARE, or else by an almost provocative mockery, such as TANT PIS or else LOOK! IT’S ME!, but still retaining my reserve.

Thoughts personally I think this is my favorite short story in the set. It is a tremendously funny tale, and the idea of universes conversing with each other through signs and telescopes is just so charming. Qfwfq waits for his good deeds to be seen, 100 million lightyears later, and it turns out some of the galaxies have missed it! He begins carrying around signs to tell people what to look at and what not to look at (a longer term plan, Qfwfq admits) and then realizes he should get correction signs and ignore correction signs. If you read one of these short stories, read this one!


The Spiral

Ah, the last short story, it is bittersweet. This story describes mollusks,

It was a rich and free and contented condition, my condition at that time, quite the contrary of what you might think. I was a bachelor (our system or reproduction in those days didn’t require even temporary couplings), healthy, without too many ambitions.

Ah, the happy, healthy, bachelor mollusk, the dream! Qfwfq falls in love with a girl, who he later sees 500 million years later.

Thoughts I don’t find this story as engaging, but the descriptions of the colors and shapes of Qfwfq as a mollusk are beautiful in an unimaginable way, because, well, he is just a bachelor mollusk.


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