- Edwin A Abbott -
I first heard about this book from Sheldon, as in Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. He mentions it in the episode where Raj wants to hit the town, but, only Sheldon is available. Sheldon does not want to go out and instead suggests that for a change of scene Raj use his imagination and travel to Flatland. He should pretend he is a circle, 'all the gals are hot for circles', and look for an attractive line segment. Now, doesn't that sound like a funny world?
Have you ever pondered what it would be like to live in a 2 dimensional world?
Come on, I'm sure you have.
Well, here is your chance. Abbott invents a world of 2D, inhabited by a variety of shapes from circles to irregular triangles. You are given a glimpse into the thinking and behaviors that could come from living life on only one plane. The differences from our 3D world are brought to life by problems I would have never thought about, such as accidental piercing by sharp angled triangles and trying to see without depth and height to help. The world Abbott comes up with is a rigid, class based society where many angled shapes (Circles being the pinnacle of perfection) are the upper class, whilst triangles make up the lowest class (irregular triangles are the lowest of the low). The only exception is women. They are in fact no shape at all. They are merely line segments (lower than even irregular triangles).
It is a fascinating world to begin with, but, the addition of the satirical math humour makes it infinitely more entertaining than similar 'world building' stories. Who would have though a book revolving around Math could be both funny and easy to read? Especially considering it was written in the 1880s!
Not only is it humourous, but, also very educational. As the story progresses the main character, a respectable square, dreams of Lineland (a 1 dimensional land made of only one line of points). Then his world is invaded by a 3D shape (a well meaning Sphere). These contrasting worlds give the reader a unique view of dimensions, how they are mathematically calculated and how they would look (to our 3D eyes). The idea of 4D, 5D, and so on are hinted at as well. For the novice mathematician and all non-math types, this is a great first step into the world of dimensions.
RATING : READ