by Edwin A. Abbott
Reviewed date: 2007 Mar 14
Rating: 2
160 pages
cover art

Flatland could be a good book if it weren't so dreadfully dull. Abbott spends half the book describing the life and culture of Flatland, the two-dimensional universe he envisioned. Then he devotes the rest of the book to A. Square's tedious encounter with a Sphere who brings him the Gospel of Three Dimensions. There is no real story at all, not in the conventional 20th century sense.

Besides offering neat ideas about two-dimensional worlds, Flatland is a satire of the sexist, class-based Victorian social structure in Abbott's day. And beyond that, Flatland is a religious text: A. Square's experience with the Third Dimension is a religious vision, and he prophesies to his people. Similarly, Abbott would have us believe that our supernatural religious experiences might be nothing more than a natural act by someone in a higher plane of existence. Flatland is about religion and spirituality as much as it is about geometry and dimensions.

But it's dull as dust, so Flatland scores only two out of five.

Flatland is out of copyright. It is freely and legally available online: Flatland: A romance of many dimensions.

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