Flatland, like our own world, is on the verge of the millenium. On the last day of the year 1999, a Square—hitherto undistinguished from the other shapes of his two-dimensional world—receives the Gospel of Three Dimensions, revealed to that world’s flat inhabitants only once every a thousand years. Transformed by a truth he is unable to conceal, he is promptly condemned as a heretic. His poignant tale is itself a multi-dimensional creation, for it is not only a challenge to our most basic perceptions of everyday reality, but a sharp social satire and an illuminating mathematical treatise as well.
In the tradition of fantasy and social satire that includes Gulliver’s Travels , Alice in Wonderland, and Animal Farm, Abbott pokes fun at the rigid class structure and concern for appearances of his Victorian society even as he poses an underlying question that is as provoking today as it was a century ago. Could we and everything we see around us be only a cross section for worlds of higher dimensions?
“At once a classic of science fiction, a playful brainteaser about geometry, a pointed satire of Victorian manners—and, finally, a strangely compelling argument about reason, faith, and the greatest mysteries of the universe.” —The Wall Street Journal