Calvino was brave because he sat down to write what interested him – not what might interest other people. He had a day job in a publishing house, and he sought neither celebrity nor wealth. He was the extreme other of the creative writing course wannabe.
He loved the short fictional form, which was a kind of mathematical equation to him, but he liked to go on playing with the same ideas, so the Cosmicomics themselves are short, but the whole series, reprinted in full here for the first time, is several hundred pages long and was written on and off through most of the 1960s. In Cosmicomics the splendid and boisterous anarchy of Cervantes and Voltaire couples with the stripped-back beauty of the double helix.