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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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (100 )
5 star
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3.9 (88 )
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Story
3.7 (87 )
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2 star
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-10-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 12-10-12

    "... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2014
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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
  •  
    Adam 05-03-15
    Adam 05-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Yuck"

    Pseudoscience presented as gospel. I've seen other people complain about the performer saying 33 instead of 3 cubed or something to the like. All content considered, that was the least of my worries.

    I don't think this was a satire so much as a mystic/occultist's approach to making the "wisdom of mystery schools" available to the masses.

    Unless you have some interest in occultism or mysticism, this book is probably not worth the listen.

    I listened to this book after I saw Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and suspected the presence of occult symbolism. After reading some interviews with Nolan and hearing him reference this book, I felt somewhat compelled to listen.

    Long story short, pass.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Northern_Lightz 04-09-15

    Every year I resolve to read at least one book a month, a goal I've achieved for several years thanks to the miracle of [ipod + audible].

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    "Thinking out of the box"

    Exceeded my expectations. Brilliantly fleshed out and interesting. While some of the language is dated, it is poetic and remains completely relevant to our times. You could read and enjoy this as a simple sci fi vignette but it's hard to miss the analogies. Challenges all of us as individuals and society members to think beyond your little world and embrace others who do the same.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    P. Bielecki St. Clair, MI 03-29-15
    P. Bielecki St. Clair, MI 03-29-15 Member Since 2015

    Nefret

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    "waste of money!"

    A quarter of the way through I gave up. Wasted my money. Steer clear of this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trav 02-06-15
    Trav 02-06-15

    Re Audible: I rate based on letter-grade w/ 10-pt scale (e.g. 90-100 = A = *****). I try not to be too soft on ratings, or needlessly give F's.

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    "A classic satire that's definitely recommended"

    I REALLY enjoyed this book and the resultant pensive time/reflection. It's not a long book, so if you're debating, I'd say go for it! I promise it'll nourish the mind a bit.

    I'd give the story a good solid B (~87).
    The Good = Truly wonderful satirical allegory that really gives the listener a great chance to think about humans, culture, class-divisions and perspective.
    The not-so-great = It's not a gripping tale, because much of it is a descriptive text about Flatland and the inhabitants... And that's OK, because this book is not supposed to be a thrill-ride.
    The writing style and vocabulary is definitely very 19th century. While this might not appeal to everyone, I enjoyed it.

    The narrator gets a C (~73).
    Alan Munro sort of had that stereotypical haughty aristocratic English voice. There were definitely parts where it seemed quite appropriate, as the main character is a well-stationed Flatland citizen that does initially accept much of the norms of the highly class-based pseudo-caste system of this world in a matter-of-fact way and looks down on those lower-rung members. The down-side is that at other times, the narration sounded monotonous and was sort of droning on. BU, this was not nearly enough of a problem to significantly detract from my enjoyment of the novella overall.

    Production quality was very nice.

    0 of 0 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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