Comparing Zoline's Heat Death of the Universe and Calvino's Cosmicomics

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Comparing Zoline's Heat Death of the Universe and Calvino's Cosmicomics

There is a fundamental dilemma that, presumably, each person faces as they begin to develop an understanding of their existence and identity which is something like, "What am I? Who am I? Where am I?" These questions are almost identical because they each address the same essential metaphysical issue of identity, "How and why Am I; why do I exist; what am I? What is the origin of I? Where am I going?" The answers to these difficult questions, whether intellectually satisfying or not, come in the form of cosmologies. Cosmologies create systems with which we understand the existence of the phenomenal world, and our own existence within it. They offer us a map, a concept, of our existence, tell us why we are here, where we are, and most often, where we are going. Of course, the most pervasive cosmologies are directly linked with particular religions, for religions are based upon the same issues: identity, origin, purpose, structure. However, this is not the domain of inquiry that I wish to pursue here, rather, I am interested in how the genre of Science Fiction creates, or recreates, cosmologies with which we might understand the universe and our individual meaning within it. How does SF create linguistic models of the cosmos, and what are the underpinnings of those cosmologies? If cosmological representations are created so that we can understand reality, in some sense, how is it done, and what questions do these cosmologies pose for the disciples thereof? I will look at two works in particular for this inquiry, Italo Calvino's short story cycle, Cosmicomics, and Pamela Zoline's short story, "The Heat Death of the Universe." I have chosen to focus my in...

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...osmos may be infinitely vast and awesome, it is also as familiar as you are to yourself.

Sources Cited

Aldridge, Alexandra. The Scientific World View in Dystopia. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1984.

Calvino, Italo. Cosmicomics. Trans. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1968.

Hume, Kathryn. "Science and Imagination in Calvino's Cosmicomics" Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature. Winnipeg: Univ. of Manitoba, (34:1) 2001.

Lefanu, Sarah. In the Chinks of the World Machine. Feminism and Science Fiction. London: The Women's Press, 1988.

Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre . New Haven : Yale University Press, 1979.

Zoline, Pamela. "The Heat Death of the Universe." 1967. The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories. Kingston, NY: McPherson & Co., 1988.

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