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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions | [Edwin Abbott]

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions, for which the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics, and computer science students. Several films have been made from the story, including a feature film in 2007 called Flatland. Other efforts have been short or experimental films, including one narrated by Dudley Moore and a short film with Martin Sheen titled Flatland: The Movie.
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Publisher's Summary

Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions, for which the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics, and computer science students. Several films have been made from the story, including a feature film in 2007 called Flatland. Other efforts have been short or experimental films, including one narrated by Dudley Moore and a short film with Martin Sheen titled Flatland: The Movie.

Public Domain (P)2012 Trout Lake Media

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    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-10-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-10-12

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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    "Upward, not Northward"

    I give Abbott props for prophetically working out some of the fundamentals of the fourth dimension and dimensional progression 30 years prior to Einstein's general theory of relativity. As a satire, however, while it loosely follows a very Swiftian formulation (Flatland = England; Lineland = Lilliput; Spaceland = Brobdingnag), it isn't as well developed as Gulliver's Travels.

    Still, Abbott plays a very significant role in the development of science fiction as a reasonable way to address and criticize current social problems. Abbott wrote the novella Flatland during a period of women's suffrage and a rigid class-based hierarchy. In someways, that makes Flatland as relevant, revolutionary and prophetic a piece today as it was when published in 1884.

    My biggest critique of the narration is that Alan Munro would occasionally stumble when presented with mathematical expressions like 3² (three to the second power) 3³ (three to the third power). He would simply read these as thirty-two or thirty-three. Since I was reading along with the book, I saw the error, but if I was only listening, it would have been a little confusing.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather DE PERE, WI, United States 11-07-12
    Heather DE PERE, WI, United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Great Story, Terrible Narrator"
    What made the experience of listening to Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions the most enjoyable?

    The story is fantastic! I love stories which expand the imagination and encourage the reader to consider the world from different perspectives.


    What other book might you compare Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions to and why?

    It may seem strange, but I couldn't help thinking of Lewis' "The Great Divorce" because both books encourage on to stretch the imagination and consider possibilities from perspectives not usually presented. It's as if the authors have found new scenic overlooks which offer the viewer a new and greater perspective.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Alan Munro’s performances?

    His voice is pleasant, but I found it frustrating to hear him say "thirty-two" or "thirty-three" when he should have said, "three squared" and "three cubed". He didn't know how to read mathematical notation.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Great story, but I'd try a different narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Greiner 05-03-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Not what I expected"

    I can definitely appreciate the uniqueness of this book as well as the attention to detail and effort Edwin Abbott put forth when imagining Flatland. I was more interested in the actual physics of the 2D universe than I was the rest of the story, but overall I'm glad I bought it.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Ben
    CHELMSFORD, United Kingdom
    10/1/13
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    "Very thought provoking!"
    If you could sum up Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions in three words, what would they be?

    Incredible, was quite entertaining. Very different take on a story, using math, shapes and dimensions to explore reality and society.

    The first few chapters were rather complicated and required some concentration, but once you get your head around the basics it's an easy going and very enjoyable story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Loved the new approach to highlighting issues and features of society and reality. Really gets you thinking about our existence in physical dimensions and the possibilities of the unknown.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Alan Munro’s performances?

    Although I enjoyed the book, it's not the best reading. Very deep and monotone voice. I wouldn't specifically avoid another but I wouldn't hunt one down either.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Nope, the voice made it hard to concentrate on the technical bits, especially when tired! :P


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not a mathematician or physicist, however I think the fundamental principles of the main characters' reality are wrong? If they are two-dimensional beings - they should exist only in two-dimensions... The main character describes how he can only see the two dimensions of length (X) and distance (Z) but then goes onto describe objects having a thickness, a height (Y) of some sort. He sees objects as "lines", but if he were in a true 2D space he would not be able to perceive the side of objects and therefore no edge or slice to be see. It seems they actually live in a three-dimensional space where one dimension (height, [Y]) is fixed at a slither, although this dimension is small and uniform for all objects, it is by no means a two-dimensional existence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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