Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams seems to borrow its structure and form from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The resemblance is similar enough that I think Ligthman’s surprise and delight (as best as I can find in a quick search) at the comparison is false modesty. Rather than imaginary cities, Lightman imagines variations of time itself in each chapter, but the same frame and form is present.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy Einstein’s Dreams, but I think credit is due to Invisible Cities for inspiring the work. The stories in Ligthman’s book are brief and whimsical, contemplative, and entertaining as self-contained thought exercises. Where I think Calvino’s book is superior is that there develops a theme that ties the book together, and the chapters work together to say something about humanity. Ligthman’s book tries to achieve this, but I think falls a bit short, and spends too much time meditating on the technical aspects of the human problems.
A good read, and a nice sequel to Invisible Cities, if you’re thirsty for more of the same, but not quite in the same league. 8/10.