Q: When is a new title not a new title?
A: When it was first published almost 130 years ago!
Flatland follows the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women – thin, straight lines – are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.
Through strange occurrences that bring him into contact with a host of geometric forms, Square has adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland (no dimensions) and ultimately entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions-a revolutionary idea for which he is returned to his two-dimensional world.
While perhaps of limited value as a stright narrative, Flatland is invaluable as thought experiment. Not because we need help to understand the two-dimensional world, but because, by stepping down into that state and appreciating that our taken-for-granted three-dimensional world would seem uncanny to the two-dimensional beings therein, we can start to envisage the otherwise-unimaginable fourth dimension.