A Romance of Many Dimensions
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, which describes a two-dimensional world and explores the nature of dimensions. It has often been categorized as science fiction although it could more precisely be called “mathematical fiction.” Written pseudonymously by “A Square,” the book used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to comment on the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but the novella’s more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions.In Flatland Abbott describes a society rigidly divided into classes. Social ascent is the main aspiration of its inhabitants, apparently granted to everyone but strictly controlled by the top of the hierarchy. Freedom is despised and the laws are cruel. Innovators are imprisoned or suppressed. Members of lower classes who are intellectually valuable, and potential leaders of riots, are either killed, or promoted to the higher classes. Every attempt for change is considered dangerous and harmful. This world is not prepared to receive “revelations from another world.”Initially a book ignored, it was discovered again after Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was published, which brought to prominence the concept of a fourth dimension. With the advent of modern science fiction from the 1950s to the present day, Flatland has seen a revival in popularity, especially among science fiction and cyberpunk fans. Many works have been inspired by the novella, including novel sequels and short films.