Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: A Square

Have you ever wondered if there was more to our world than just what you could see? Ever since I saw the film The Matrix, the idea that my world was not necessarily the same place I assumed it was has haunted me. It's kind of funny, because that idea, that there is more to perceive if we only knew how to look has been around for a pretty long time. Take for example, this week's genre character, A Square, from the 1884 novel Flatland, by Edwin Abbott Abbott.

Basically the plot goes as follows; living in a two dimensional world (length and width, but no depth) our main character, A Square, describes his world to us. Basically he explains how the social system works, why circles are better than squares which are better than triangles, etc., then one day he is visited by a creature from another dimension – the third.

This visitor, (called simply – A Sphere), tries to explain to our narrator how his view of the world is limited and just how much is available if you only look for it.

The book itself is a satire on society in the Victorian era, but for the modern fantasy reader, the concept of a three dimensional being visiting a two dimensional world is pretty cool all on its own. What I like most about the Square is his sense of wonder as he begins exploring the different dimensions throughout existence.

The book itself is pretty short, basically an afternoon’s read, and as far as fantastic fiction that also gives an education on mathematic principles, it’s pretty darn cool.

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