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''Invisible Cities'' is a novel by Italian author Creator/ItaloCalvino, who also wrote ''Literature/IfOnAWintersNightATraveler''. Like most of Calvino's works, ''Invisible Cities'' is as much a puzzle box as a story: it plays with the concepts of language, imagination and communication.

The novel consists of Creator/MarcoPolo's descriptions of the many fantastic cities he has seen, delivered to an at first skeptical Kublai Khan. The cities are classified according to their nature: "Cities and the Dead", "Hidden Cities", "Cities and Eyes" etc. These short passages are interspersed with dialogues between the two men.

That's it.

Well, that's a ''superficial'' description of ''Invisible Cities''. The concept is deceptively simple, but the way it is executed is amazing. Each city is unique -- beautiful, chilling, simplistic, ornate -- some are meditations on what cities are, some are {{Deconstruction}}s, and some are metaphors for everything under the sky -- but all seem similar in a way which is just beyond words.

Oddly enough, it is ''not'' an example of TheCity or UrbanFantasy.
!!Provides examples of:
%%* AbsurdlySpaciousSewer
%%* AlienGeometries
%%* AnachronismStew: Deliberately.
%%* BazaarOfTheBizarre
* BaseOnWheels: Half a base on wheels, in Sophronia's case.
* BeneathTheEarth: Eusapia has a mirror city for the dead underground, and Argia subverts this by having the city being filled with dirt (although it is hinted that there are still inhabitants...).
%%* BigLabyrinthineBuilding: Or cities, in this case.
%%* BizarrChitecture: Ohhh brother.
%%* CityOfCanals: Esmeralda.
* CityPlanet: An unusual example: Penthesilia's outskirts cannot be left, therefore it envelops the entire planet.
* ClosedCircle: Several interesting examples. Cecilia is a city which has swallowed the world, Trude cannot be left because it is ''all'' cities and Penthesilia consists only of outskirts, leaving Marco Polo uncertain as to whether or not he can ever be ''not'' in the outskirts of that city.
%%* ContemplateOurNavels
* CutAndPasteSuburb: An entire ''city''. Disturbingly, it is implied that all cities are but that one city, and you can never leave.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Both physical (a city where everything was removed but the pipes and water ducts) and metaphorical (A city where bordellos are places of silence and you should seek the stables for some intimate fun)
%%* EldritchLocation: Averted, played straight and subverted.
* FantasyKitchenSink: As the inhabitants of one city find when they destroy all the vermin in their city...
* FloatingContinent: A few of the Thin and Sky Cities approach this.
%%* FramingDevice
%%* GhostCity
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: Each city has a feminine name. The city chapters are titled either "<adjective> cities" or "cities and the <noun>".
* IntrepidMerchant: Subverted. Marco Polo, despite being, uh, Marco Polo, seems more interested in looking at new cities.
%%* LayeredWorld: Or Hidden Cities, in this case.
%%* MeaningfulName
* MerchantCity: The Trading Cities, although some of them play with the idea.
* MindScrew: For example, the characters themselves discuss whether or not they can have a discussion with each other. It only gets more confusing.
* MonsterTown: The aforementioned city which was to reflect the beauty of the cosmos.
* OneDegreeOfSeparation: Played with in Ersilia, a city which is composed of the relationships between the inhabitants.
%%* ThePhilosopher: Marco Polo and Kublai Khan.
%%* {{Postmodernism}}
%%* UniversalAdaptorCast: Every single person in Melania.
* ViceCity: But within it lurks a city of justice, and in it, a city of vice and in it...
%%* WalkingTheEarth