23 May 2016

A Short Review of Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Title: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
Author: Edwin A. Abbott
First published in 1884
Genre: science fiction, mathematical fiction
Source: downloaded for free on Aldiko Books.

This masterpiece of science (and mathematical) fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than 100 years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926), it describes the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women-thin, straight lines-are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.

Through strange occurrences that bring him into contact with a host of geometric forms, Square has adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland (no dimensions) and ultimately entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions—a revolutionary idea for which he is returned to his two-dimensional world. Charmingly illustrated by the author, Flatland is not only fascinating reading, it is still a first-rate fictional introduction to the concept of the multiple dimensions of space. "Instructive, entertaining, and stimulating to the imagination."

WARNING: Do not read Flatland if you...

 - are looking for pure entertainment value.

 - hate math and if the very thought of having to deal with geometry sends shivers down your spine. 

 - are looking for a book with an actual real plot.

Instead, read Flatland if you...

- love to ponder about the nature of the Universe

- are not intimidated by mathematics, and find the concept of higher dimensions fascinating and exciting.

- like the works of Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene, and you finally want to read that book they always refer to.

- want to stretch and challenge your imagination and try and figure out how life can be possible in two dimensions (or in one dimension).

- love political, social and/or religious satire.

Flatland is not a book for everyone to enjoy. At times, it was very boring; and at times it felt like doing math homework. But once you suffer through the slow parts and get used to the stale language of 1800's, you're in for a real mind-bending experience.

It's one of those books that you need to read more than once in order to fully grasp its concept and catch those fine details. Because, despite all its flaws, Flatland is just a brilliant book.

Lovers of math, this book is for you! (but I guess you already knew that)

My rating: 4 stars

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