Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So

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And it certainly never occurred to them that their most cherished beliefs about Flatland society might be based on prejudice and unchallenged assumptions. How could it be? In Flatland, your position in society was determined by how many sides you had and how regular your perimeter was. It was an objective test, hence unquestionable. At the top of the tree were the Circles, priesthood-cum-nobility: glorious, almost transcendent beings - perfection made flesh. And the biggest bunch of snobs you could imagine. They weren't even true circles, just polygons with an awful lot of sides.

Like many aspects of Flatland, their name was a polite fiction. Behind the rigid facade of Flatland society, however, the winds of change were starting to whine. They had begun as a gentle breeze when the Six-Year War between the Axials and the Alignment had thinned the ranks of Flatland males and thrust women into the munitions factories and the civil service. To the surprise of the men, and the quiet satisfaction of the women, the lineal ladies carried out what had previously been men's jobs with aplomb - maybe too much aplomb.

There were mutterings in the Halls of Power - but the catenary was out of the bag, and no amount of effort would ever get it back again. As the decades passed, the breeze had stiffened to a howling gale, as the advance of technology brought with it inevitable social spin-off.

If Vikki Line had her way, the gale would soon become a roaring hurricane. Not that she disliked boys, you understand - as long as they knew their place Square," first published in The real author was a teacher called Edwin Abbott Abbott. Flatland is a two-dimensional world, and its people are geometric figures -- lines, triangles, squares.

Abbott's aim was to explain the Fourth Dimension -- hot intellectual property in his day -- and he made his readers receptive to the idea by getting them to imagine how A. Square would respond to a visitor from the Third Dimension. And Flatland society satirized the rigid social conventions of Victorian England, especially the lowly status accorded to women. At the start of the 21st century, mathematics and science have moved on, and so have social issues -- though not as much as I'd like. I was reading Flatland again, and I got the idea of writing a sequel, to bring it up-to-date.

Clearly the sequel had to be about one of A. Square's descendants, but Abbott doesn't tell us what the "A" in "A.

See a Problem?

Square" stands for, and I found that I just could not start writing the book until I knew his full name. I was stuck.

Book Review: "Flatland"

For years. Then it suddenly dawned on me that the "A" must stand for "Albert. Prince Albert was Queen Victoria's consort; Abbott was writing in Victorian times, satirizing Victorian values -- the name fit. What of the womenfolk? On Flatland, women are lines -- and it followed as night followed day that my central character should be female, and her name should be Victoria Line -- which in reality is part of the London Underground. Now everything came to me in a rush. Young Vikki is Albert's great-great-granddaughter, a thoroughly modern young woman in a society rather like the USA in the early '60s.

Flatland's male-dominated culture is falling to bits as its women break away from their traditional restraints. Vikki finds an old notebook, Albert's original manuscript of Flatland, and is bitten by the 3-D bug. She tries to visit the Third Dimension and succeeds -- with some outside help. Flatterland has a serious purpose, but most of the characters are outrageous. As both a witty satire of Victorian society and a means by which to explore the fourth dimension, Flatland remains a tour de force.

Now, British mathematician and accomplished science writer Ian Stewart has written a fascinating, modern sequel to Abbott's book. Through larger-than-life characters and an inspired story line, Flatterland explores our present understanding of the shape and origins of the universe, the nature of space, time, and matter, as well as modern geometries and their applications. The journey begins when our heroine, Victoria Line, comes upon her great-great-grandfather A. Square's diary, hidden in the attic.

The writings help her to contact the Space Hopper, who becomes her guide and mentor through eleven dimensions. In the tradition of Alice in Wonder-land and The Phantom Toll Booth, this magnificent investigation into the nature of reality is destined to become a modern classic. In , an amiably eccentric clergyman and literary scholar named Edwin Abbott Abbott published an odd philosophical novel called Flatland , in which he explored such things as four-dimensional mathematics and gently satirized some of the orthodoxies of his time. The book went on to be a bestseller in Victorian England, and it has remained in print ever since.

With Flatterland , Ian Stewart, an amiable professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, updates the science of Flatland , adding literally countless dimensions to Abbott's scheme of things "Your world has not just four dimensions," one of his characters proclaims, "but five, fifty, a million, or even an infinity of them! And none of them need be time. Space of a hundred and one dimensions is just as real as a space of three dimensions".

Along his fictional path, Stewart touches on Feynman diagrams, superstring theory, time travel, quantum mechanics, and black holes, among many other topics.


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And, in Abbott's spirit, Stewart pokes fun at our own assumptions, including our quest for a Theory of Everything. That's no small accomplishment, and one for which Stewart deserves applause. Visit Seller's Storefront. Part of me would like to rate this one star, but I think I may have just expected to much. Finally finished after my third attempt, all I can really say is save yourself some pain and read the original Flatland, Astrophysics for people is a hurry, and Monstrous Regiment instead.

Those books do a much better job at the mess that is flatterland is trying accomplish. Although I did just realize the Vicky is a straw man for the other character, that is pretty funny. Dec 19, Melissa rated it liked it. I liked it a lot from one perspective, but when I turned it on it's non-Euclidean head I didn't. So it gets three stars. I felt like the idea was super great and the mathematical execution was awesome, but they probably needed a bit of a ghostwriter to make the plot a little more compelling. I wish it was something I could give teenagers to read, but it's not quite there.

Apr 12, Nigel McFarlane rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. A spacehopper takes a resident of Flatland on a tour of higher dimensions and weird geometries. It's a light-hearted romp through some mind-bending concepts, with a lot of terrible puns and humour very much in the spirit of Lewis Carroll. Sep 17, Mark rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction , science , sci-fi , philosophy.

Someone else may have this cup of tea, I'll pass on all its related hypotheticals. Feb 24, Nicole rated it it was ok. Feb 12, Lauren rated it liked it. Aug 25, Gabriela Lewenfus added it. Aug 14, Chanania rated it liked it. In a line: Not as good as it could have been but probably worth reading anyway. You are probably well aware that this book is about abstract mathematics and specifically higher dimensions so I will not go into a detailed list of subjects covered by the book. On the other hand, I will cover what the book fails and succeeds to achieve.

That book beautifully opens the reader's mind to the con In a line: Not as good as it could have been but probably worth reading anyway. That book beautifully opens the reader's mind to the concept of higher dimensions and is actually well written. Flatterland , on the other hand, simply tries to stuff you with the wacky extensions which mathematicians and physicists have devised and doesn't even achieve that in a particularly pleasant way. While the story of Flatland was merely a context for the story to take place in, Prof. Stewart has felt the need to use his story to almost explicitly comment on the flaws of the fictional society he's imagined, as if doing so will provide insights into our own societies.

My own opinion is that this attempt at social commentary is an abysmal failure but even if you think of it as successful, I still see no reason to litter a work about mathematics and physics with political gibberish. If I already agree with his opinions, I certainly don't need my popular mathematics reading littered with them and if I don't agree with them, a book about higher dimensions is certainly not the right medium to persuade me otherwise. Note: For those who insist on believing that the original Flatland was an incredibly subtle satire of Victorian society, grow up.

Whatever Abbott's own opinions were, the book is about the third dimension as a metaphor for the fourth. He set it in a society resembling his own for the same reason almost all fiction literature strongly resembles the society in which it was written. It's easier for both the author and the reader. Any political commentary you see in Abbott's work is a creation of your own imagination. Additionally, whereas the protagonist of the original Flatland was a refined individual who the reader could enjoy reading about, the main character of this work is a very flawed and unpleasant character whom I would prefer to never meet.

Not that this effected the mathematics at all but it certainly made the book a less pleasant read. Despite the very flawed method of creating a context for the work, Prof. Stewart does succeed remarkably well when it comes to conveying what mathematicians and physicists mean by "higher dimensions". As an example, in my own reading, I have come across the concept of fractals and fractional dimensions several times. Stewart, however, is the first person I've encountered who has ever actually been able to explain what a fractional dimension is and why I should view it as a logical extension of the concept of dimension.

While the language is often too simplistic for my taste, the fact that he actually succeeds in conveying the concepts more than makes up for his treating us like children. This is based on my outlook that the purpose of books is to convey their contents and not to make us feel good about how intelligent we are. If you're one of these people who only reads as long as it makes you feel intelligent, you probably shouldn't read this book. As an aside, you should also probably take a long time to reconsider your value system because you are a deeply flawed individual. While the book does very occasionally mess up, for example by not fully explaining a concept or by having our protagonist accept concepts unquestioningly far more readily than the average reader would, these cases are the exceptions and it would be unreasonable to ask for perfection in a book which aims to explain some of the most abstract concepts mankind has devised.

To put it simply, the mathematics is for the most part solidly explained and it is that which makes the book worth reading, even if it won't be a particularly pleasant read. The other minor criticisms which I have against the book probably shouldn't influence your desire to read it so I'll keep them to myself. Just remember to think critically about everything you read. Oct 05, Brett-Marco Glauser rated it really liked it.

But if you aren't interested by geometry or physics, stay away. Apr 28, Jay Go rated it liked it. I was hoping to love this book as much as I loved Flatland. Sadly, I do not. I put the book down for almost a year, and just recently picked it up to finish. As others have noted, Flatland was scientific and a political satire. Flatterland tried to cram in the politics in the last few pages as an afterthought. I really hated how all the names were just smooshed. So instead of Albert Einstein he was simply Alberteinstein.

What is that? Not very imaginative, and simply a pain to read. The book came I was hoping to love this book as much as I loved Flatland. The book came off to me as slightly misogynistic. Which might have been Stewart's attempts at making the book satirical the way Flatland was, but it simply fell flat. He tried to cram in the woman empowerment at the end, after he treated the protagonist a female like a feeble minded idiot throughout the entire book. Much the way Alice was treated as a dummy for not understanding the world around her.

Flatterland really took a lot from Alice in Wonderland, more than just a nod to a great work, it really copied the plot and many characters. It was as if he copied a bunch of previous great works. Flatland, Alice in Wonderland. I am wondering why he didn't come up with a more original story. That being said, looking at the book as a source of information on math and physics, it made it a bit easier to read. Some of the concepts were still confusing to me at least. However, most of them were explained simply so that anyone could grasp. It was somewhat enjoyable, and a great tool for learning so I give it an average reading.

A book that people should read if they are interested, but if you are a fan of Flatland then don't go in with high hopes. Feb 18, Stefan Shirley rated it really liked it Shelves: occupational-wellness. Excellent book but nothing like the original book, Flatlander.

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Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So by Ian Stewart

Flatterland allows the reader's mind to consider multi-dimensional worlds based on current mathematical ideas. Jan 01, Andrew rated it liked it Shelves: math-fun , , library-find. This, like the book it follows, was weird. But the weird was for different reasons. The first half of the book went by fine. Topology, Projective Spaces, Hyperbolic Spaces, fine. Then Ian Stewart switched to mathematical-physics. I may be starting to develop a sort of understanding for the subject at least a layman's understanding , but it still makes my head hurt.

Once you get into q This, like the book it follows, was weird. I don't know why, but the whole "We have a really neat idea that we can't really test because it is hard to come up with things we can actually measure" aspect of M-Theory to be troubling. His response to "What happened before the Big Bang," was decent, but not satisfactory. In fact, I think the plenty of physicists side with Victoria Line about trying to figure it out. Hmm, all in all, I felt it was a decent tromp through the various geometries that aren't studied in a classical geometry class, and would recommend reading it.

But beware: don't go past the "Paradox Twins" unless you are very brave. Dec 26, Kent rated it liked it Recommends it for: my sister. There were significant differences in the Flatland societal strata among classes and between men and women. So I thought this book was going to be a novel expanding on those differences, just years later. Instead, it was a book about mathematics and physics years later. And a lot has happened in mathematics and physics in those years.

The book is actually a primer on quantum physics, multi-dimensional spaces, fractional dimensions aka fractals , topology, and time travel, to name just a few of the topics covered. The author is a mathematics professor, so he understands this stuff, and like the cover review says, it was written in a form similar to "Through the Looking Glass" where the heroine from Flatland gets escorted through the many new and wonderful worlds of Mathspace.

Despite that format, and despite a lot of corny jokes and puns, I could only read about one chapter at a time. I really never understood most chapters, but I got through it. You better like math if you're going to read this book. The main issue I have with this book is that, in relation to the concepts presented, I found it 'too much, too soon'. While the themes themselves were extremely interesting, half of it flew over my head - there were just too many concepts, too many 'spaces', and too many theories to take in at once if you don't have some background knowledge on these topics already.

As far as the story telling goes, the main character is A.


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Square's granddaughter, which will continue his journey many years later. The story was really just a setting for presenting the topics at hand though, and for me it is one of the weakest points in the book. They do view spoiler [get stuck in a black hole near the end hide spoiler ] , but apart from that it was pretty uneventful overall. In hindsight, I think I would have liked and understood this book a lot better if it was only just a 'story book', or a science book. The way it's done, while remarkable for the attempt, leaves the presentation of both 'parts' sub par.

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Flatterland: Like Flatland, Only More So

Speculative Fiction. About Ian Stewart. Ian Stewart. He is best known for his popular science writing on mathematical themes. See other authors with similar names. Books by Ian Stewart. Trivia About Flatterland: Like No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back.

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