Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot, a book review

I first read Flatland many years ago (High School? Junior High?) on the grounds that it was early science fiction and, as such, something I really should look at and probably ought to like.

I found it dull, but mercifully short.

Recently, the science fiction book club I'm a part of selected it as our book for the month. I didn't object--after all, I've had several years (Nope, not going to say how many) and a great deal of education since my first attempt, my opinion should be different. And, look at the number of editions out there and the amount of praise lavished on the book!

I just finished and...

I found it dull, but mercifully short.

Oh, the years and education mean that I can, intellectually, place a slightly greater value on it. I have a greater knowledge of Victorian society, so I can see what is being critiqued better, and I can add more labels to the description--not only "science fiction" but also "travel narrative" and "social satire." Probably there are others worth noticing.  I can slot it historically and lecture myself on its value.

All of which makes me feel slightly guilty for not liking it but does not persuade me of its charms.

The square is flat in personality as well as physique, the variations of belief and unbelief are still quite uninspiring (For some reason, everyone "thunders" at everyone else, despite the fact that it never proves even slightly persuasive), and the book might be worth studying but is not something I'll voluntarily curl up with on a rainy day any time soon.

The cover I picked--and there are lots of covers--is from the Dover Thrift edition. I still like the Dover Thrifts. Yeah, they have cheap paper and almost non-existent margins, but they are inexpensive, easy to carry, and easy to shelve.


  1. Have you read "Diamond Age or, a Young Ladie's Illustrated Primer" by Neal Stephenson? I think you would enjoy it! Check out my review of it on my blog

  2. I really should read Diamond Age one of these days. People keep suggesting it to me!

  3. I read Flatland for a math class in Biola and liked it. Perhaps as a different take on math, you would like it.