Sunday, February 19, 2017


Flatterland is full of puns and science. Really, if it weren't for the name "Ian Stewart" on the front, I'd suspect it had somehow been written by me. Flatterland is a "sequel" of sorts to Edwin A. Abbott's Flatland, which I suppose you should technically read first, although I think Flatterland stands perfectly well on its own. Still, a quick review/summary of Flatland is in order.

Boop. Just did a quick review. Two paragraphs. It doesn't even have a picture of the cover. Go read it, if you'd like.

Anyways, back to Flatterland. As the tagline says, it's like Flatland, only more so. And with a healthy helping of Alice in Wonderland to boot. Flatterland is set about a hundred years after Flatland, and follows the adventures of Victoria "Vikki" Line, a woman who finds her some-number-of-greats-grandfather's book, which is entitled Flatland. (Yes, they are actually the same book.) Anyways, Vikki reads Flatland, and in it finds instructions for summoning a being from Spaceland, in a way that is kind of hilarious.

So, Vikki summons someone from Spaceland. However, she gets a bit more than she bargained for. Instead of the stuffy, boring old Sphere from Flatland, she meets a loud, energetic, grinning creature known as the Space Hopper, who can travel through much more than just stuffy, boring old Spaceland. The Space Hopper equips Vikki with a Virtual Unreality Engine, or VUE, and takes her on a tour of all sorts of spaces and geometries, meeting many strange people along the way. They pay special attention to a strange place called Planiturth, and the fact that its inhabitants don't really know which space they're in.

Personally, I really liked Flatterland. I'm a big fan of puns, and math, and paradoxes, and big toothy grins, and winks directed at the fourth wall, so what's not to like? I think Ian does a good job of describing and explaining all the spaces, and why they're all cool. If I had one complaint, it would be that there aren't enough pictures. Actually, I do have that complaint. A book about geometries should have more pictures in it. But, besides that, it's a fun read, and it stays crazy enough to always keep you guessing. If you like bending your brain a bit, and you don't mind a good pun every once in a while (or a bad pun (or twenty)), then I think you should try Ian Stewart's Flatterland.

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