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Summary

Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions, for which the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics, and computer science students. Several films have been made from the story, including a feature film in 2007 called Flatland. Other efforts have been short or experimental films, including one narrated by Dudley Moore and a short film with Martin Sheen titled Flatland: The Movie.

Public Domain (P)2012 Trout Lake Media

What listeners say about Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

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Very thought provoking!

If you could sum up Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions in three words, what would they be?

Incredible, was quite entertaining. Very different take on a story, using math, shapes and dimensions to explore reality and society.

The first few chapters were rather complicated and required some concentration, but once you get your head around the basics it's an easy going and very enjoyable story.

What did you like best about this story?

Loved the new approach to highlighting issues and features of society and reality. Really gets you thinking about our existence in physical dimensions and the possibilities of the unknown.

Would you be willing to try another one of Alan Munro’s performances?

Although I enjoyed the book, it's not the best reading. Very deep and monotone voice. I wouldn't specifically avoid another but I wouldn't hunt one down either.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Nope, the voice made it hard to concentrate on the technical bits, especially when tired! :P

Any additional comments?

I'm not a mathematician or physicist, however I think the fundamental principles of the main characters' reality are wrong? If they are two-dimensional beings - they should exist only in two-dimensions... The main character describes how he can only see the two dimensions of length (X) and distance (Z) but then goes onto describe objects having a thickness, a height (Y) of some sort. He sees objects as "lines", but if he were in a true 2D space he would not be able to perceive the side of objects and therefore no edge or slice to be see. It seems they actually live in a three-dimensional space where one dimension (height, [Y]) is fixed at a slither, although this dimension is small and uniform for all objects, it is by no means a two-dimensional existence.

1 person found this helpful

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AWFUL

Dry subject...automation makes it extremely boring. Also totally inaccurate in places (32 and 33 as opposed to 3 to the power 2 and 3 to the power 3 respectively (Chapter 16 or thereabouts)) RUBBISH

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eye opening yet simple

I can't believe I can't conceive a 4th dimension. it's a powerful story that makes you question our reality

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creativity and thought provoking

but difficult to follow at times plus narrator mate not best for this book. overall intersting considering it age.

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Note from an oddly shaped (possibly sharp) triangle

This is just nuts. I hung about thinking about my odd shape and quickly realised this gentleman is possibly scared of women, or triangles or both. It's fascinating but I'm not sure I totally get it. I will try again next time I feel crazy.

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Interesting but dated

boring narration.
theories and ideas after a while become suffocating.
some very old fashioned and backwards ideas.
the author clearly is struggling with his own perception of his life.

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  • Heather
  • 07-11-12

Great Story, Terrible Narrator

What made the experience of listening to Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions the most enjoyable?

The story is fantastic! I love stories which expand the imagination and encourage the reader to consider the world from different perspectives.

What other book might you compare Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions to and why?

It may seem strange, but I couldn't help thinking of Lewis' "The Great Divorce" because both books encourage on to stretch the imagination and consider possibilities from perspectives not usually presented. It's as if the authors have found new scenic overlooks which offer the viewer a new and greater perspective.

Would you be willing to try another one of Alan Munro’s performances?

His voice is pleasant, but I found it frustrating to hear him say "thirty-two" or "thirty-three" when he should have said, "three squared" and "three cubed". He didn't know how to read mathematical notation.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Great story, but I'd try a different narrator.

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  • Darwin8u
  • 10-12-12

Upward, not Northward

I give Abbott props for prophetically working out some of the fundamentals of the fourth dimension and dimensional progression 30 years prior to Einstein's general theory of relativity. As a satire, however, while it loosely follows a very Swiftian formulation (Flatland = England; Lineland = Lilliput; Spaceland = Brobdingnag), it isn't as well developed as Gulliver's Travels.

Still, Abbott plays a very significant role in the development of science fiction as a reasonable way to address and criticize current social problems. Abbott wrote the novella Flatland during a period of women's suffrage and a rigid class-based hierarchy. In someways, that makes Flatland as relevant, revolutionary and prophetic a piece today as it was when published in 1884.

My biggest critique of the narration is that Alan Munro would occasionally stumble when presented with mathematical expressions like 3² (three to the second power) 3³ (three to the third power). He would simply read these as thirty-two or thirty-three. Since I was reading along with the book, I saw the error, but if I was only listening, it would have been a little confusing.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Elgersma
  • 24-07-18

32 and omniscience

This story is good. Problem is, the narrator doesn't know how to pronounce a lot of the words, and it gets distracting. surprising to say the least for an audible production. for example, omniscience was said as "omni-science" and "3 squared" was read as 32. Find a different version if you can.

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  • sascha krohn
  • 10-01-18

awful narrater and recording - great story

narrater has a very deep voice and reads at very uneven speed, constant pauses.
that plus the old outdated vocabulary make it hard to follow and enjoy the story.
i wished there was a more modern adaptation of this almost 200 year old masterpiece...

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  • T Hood
  • 30-04-21

A book for thinkers.

so first and foremost this book is not politically correct which is fine for me seeing it was written more than 100 years ago. that being said you should go into this book with an open mind about the very concepts that it talks about. it's an interesting subject in science that would intrigue anyone today. and to be completely honest I was blown away with how much I am thinking about this subject. I definitely recommend.

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  • Shelley
  • 14-12-20

Odd Book

Read it as part of the 1k books to read before you die recommendations. Not much plot. If you are expecting plot to happen... well, you get a few minutes of semi-plot where someone in the 2 dimension realizes there is a 3rd and gets thrown in jail.

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  • gpiscatelli
  • 15-06-20

Insightful classic, bad pronunciation

This is a classic for a reason. Abbott was centuries ahead in his understanding of human nature and philosophy. Unfortunately, Munro didn't know how to pronounce much of the math jargon and since the whole allegory is told in mathematical terms, that nearly ruined the experience. But you may be less picky than I and still glean tremendous insight.

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  • Finley
  • 30-05-20

Good point, outside the box thinking

A bit wordy, but altogether a good way to look at the world and things not understood

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  • Brad
  • 15-12-19

or, How Geometry Works for the Clinically Stupid

In a totally reasonable amount of allegory, for the day, I learned more about the substance of Geometry in 4 hours than in my primary, secondary and tertiary education combined. It's like the difference between driving from Chicago to Indianapolis with Google maps v. bicycling the same trip. A much more textured understanding of the terrain results. I'm going to listen to this book twice more then I'll tackle Anathem again. I clearly need cartoons to explain math to me. It's hard being stupid.

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  • Khalid
  • 26-08-19

Simply an extraordinary Genius ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Given this was written sometime before 1884, before modern physics revelations, and based only on mathematics and an insightful imagination; I find myself shattered between giving a standing ovation, and watching my ego rolling and crying in agony, after he realized the extent our ignorance.. the drama.. the richness in perception, and depth in describing the variance yielded from different perspectives.. absolutely amazing! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️