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Flatland/Sphereland (Everyday Handbook) Paperback – January 28, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
You've heard the classic criticism of a story is that it is "two dimensional". Well, Edwin Abbott's tale of an imaginary two-dimensional land adds a whole new twist to that phrase. Flatland, as he describes it, is about as rich as a two-dimensional story can be. And it is marvelously extended by its narrator's encounters with the unknown - the world of 3 dimensions. The challenges that narrator faces as he encounters the incomprehensible, quite closely mirror mine whenever I attempt to think about a 4th (or 5th or 7th) dimension. If you've faced the same struggle, you will be delighted by this book.
If you've ever wondered what a 4th dimension would look like, Flatland provides a lens through which you can imagine that extension of our 3D world. From here you can go on to read Rudy Rucker or Pickover or Hawkins - but this is the place to start your exploration of dimensions beyond experience. Abbot accomplishes this by describing the eye-opening extension of his narrator's 2D world when visited by a 3D apparition, a "sphere". His framing of the foundational issues through the experiences of what you'd expect to be the least interesting character in fiction are really quite engaging. The storyline, however sparse, is as interesting as the mathematics - albeit quite nineteenth-century'ish in tone.
Don't misconstrue Abbott's seemingly misogynist portrayal of women and of his class-stratified society. This element was intended to provide a third layer of sharp, Swiftian satire and critical commentary on the rigid social mores of his era.Read more ›
First off, it has the original Flatlands classic by Edwin Abbott Abbott, the mathematician/clergyman would first took us to the world of A Square. And it also has the 1967 followup Sphereland.
It bears noting that Sphereland is but one of many follow up so Abbott's classic and because they're all good and worthy in their own right, I'll repeat them here:
Spaceland...the Rudy Rucker classic which focuses more on following up the story than the science of Abbott's original book;
Plainiverse...the Dewdney work which actually endeavors to thoroughly flesh out the physics and biological issues of what life actually would be like in 2D (for what it's worth philosopher Dan Dennett says that this is favorite take on the Flatlands theme); and
Flatland Annotated and Flatterlands...both by mathematician Ian Stewart. If I wasn't as a big of a fan of this book I probably admittedly would've stopped my collection at just these entries because the annotated version has the original Flatland in it and also because in my opinion at least Flatterlands does the best and most recent job of updating the mathematics of Flatland.
But that being said, Sphereland is a serviceable entry and does faithfully follow the A Square story...albeit two generations later...and like the original Flatland serves as a great metaphor for the desireability of open mindedness and looking past your limitations.
Sphereland is entirely the opposite. Sphereland deals with ideas such as the expanding universe theory others. This it explains even clearer then flatland did. But Sphereland's focus was not on the story, but rather on the theories that it tried to convey. This may be a good thing in some people's minds, but I enjoyed the story of flatland and didn't like it pushed aside to explain the theories. I also didn't like the fixing of flatland to make it less backwards (Besides giving equality to women) since flatland to me was backwards.
So If you want to learn complex Ideas simply and with fun, these are the books for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic trip into one, two and three dimensional worlds in a story told by a Victorian mathematician. Gave me so much food for thought on the nature of dimensional existence. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jo C
To understand different dimensions you need to read this book. I wish I knew of this when I was in high school.Published 20 months ago by Allen Zebrowski
When you see references to this book, written so long ago, on Futurama, you know it's time to catch up on your reading. Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by Twang
I have been a fan of flatland since I first read it as a schoolgirl. This time, I was buying them as a gift because this is a great book to give someone else becoming old enough to... Read morePublished on January 9, 2012 by Pj Dupuis
Incredibly easy and direct way to give a new perspective into a 1D, 2D and 3D "space"!
Flatland is written in 1800's English, so it might be a little bit tricky to get... Read more
My appreciation of mathematics came late in life, but it finally came. I have neither the aptitude nor the training to be a professional mathematician, but I like to spend a fair... Read morePublished on April 10, 2008 by Paul Camp
This is a must read for anyone. Its written simply for anyone to understand yet the underlying principles can inspire thought and contemplation on the ideas of relativity and... Read morePublished on January 7, 2003 by Jexii
This was a good morsel in the midst of my newest interests...chaos, quantum mechanics, sacred geometry, etc...if you enjoy numbers and thinking hard - it is a good read. Read morePublished on September 4, 2001 by Cheryl A. Kozicky
Abbott's math fantasy Flatland is more than 120 years old, and that alone makes it an interesting reading for people interested in geometry. Read morePublished on August 7, 2001 by Pascal Thiel