Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics

Listening to Dopplereffekt’s ‘Hyperelliptic Surfaces’ it strikes me as a perfect soundtrack to Italo Calvino’s ‘Cosmicomics’, which I’m currently reading. A hyperelliptic surface is just the kind of place the book’s narrator might live at some point. As you know, it’s a surface with an elliptic fibration over an elliptic curve. It might strike you as odd that anyone could live there, but then Qfwfq (yes, that is his name) inhabits many points in space and time throughout the stories. Calvino’s cosmological tales regarding life, the universe and everything are a totally unique vision, imbued with warmth and wit.
   Here’s an excerpt from ‘All At One Point, set at the time when all matter was concentrated on a single point.
   ‘There was also a cleaning woman – ‘maintenance staff’ she was called – only one, for the whole universe, since there was so little room. To tell the truth, she had nothing to do all day long, not even dusting – inside one point not even a grain of dust can enter – so she spent all her time gossiping and complaining.’
   These brilliant stories, like Ballard and Burroughs in different ways, render most sci-fi novels dull and meaningless by comparison.

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