Flatland

The history of the second dimension realm formerly known as ‘Flatland’, as described by Arthur Square, Esq.

Ruler: Chief Circle, Vyraius Cerchio

Flatland is a realm in the second dimension, chronicled in the highly controversial book ‘Flatland’ by respected Square lawyer, Arthur Square, Esq.  In his journal, he explains that ‘Flatland’ is a term he coined for the Third Dimensional readers to describe the world he lived in.  The country itself is not named but he does mention other countries in the same realm, particularly those populated by Chromatists and Irregulars.  His own country is anti-Irregular and anti-Color, but color does exist in the Second Dimension.  It was outlawed in his country primarily for giving Lesser Shapes ‘ideas above their station’.

Flatland (we use this term to make reading easier) is an extremely strict and totalitarian society masquerading as a monarchy.  It is difficult to be a Shape of less than four sides, due to the class structure of society.  Geometric perfection is the law.  Any Irregularity is punishable by imprisonment and in extreme cases execution.  In some cases, Irregularity might be repairable through extreme measures (which ends in death for most Irregulars in this kind of treatment) but this rare.  Even so, a ‘healed’ former Irregular will carry the stigma with them through their (generally much shorter) lifespan.

During the time of Arthur Square, the society reflected Victorian England (as this was when EA Abbot wrote the novel).  It was strict, restrictive and controlled by the nobility (The Many-Sided and Circles).  Female Flatlanders (Line Segments) were not educated and kept intentionally repressed due to the danger they represented to Shapes.  Lines can be deadly to Shapes if they were allowed to ‘run rampant’.  Thus they were required to announce their presence upon entering a room or space containing Shapes with a shrill ‘peace-cry’.  The Lines were expected to marry, produce even more perfect Shapes and keep the home in order.

During the time of William Sifras, society had advanced somewhat, reflecting a somewhat dark version of 1950s America (this is the era in which ‘The Liberation of Flatland’ is set).

Lines were allowed to receive a limited education (though there had been a time about twenty years before this in which Lines had fought for representation and more freedom and received it for a short time. Things regressed a bit by the time William was born).

Squares, Lines and Equilateral Triangles were educated in public schools (Primary and High School) and people lived ‘freer’ lives, though still constrained to the strict class system.  Chromaticist paranoia and the fear of being declared Irregular was at an all-time high.  The younger Lesser Shapes and Lines were becoming discontent with their lot, which only fueled the general unhappiness of society.  Many people no longer believed that they were born to be the servants and slaves of the Many-Sided and a growing anger towards the Circles was rising.  However, because of this, restrictions became even tougher and the Circles were looking hard at the young Lessers because this is where they suspected the revolution would eventually rise.

They were not wrong.


Author’s Notes:

My primary inspirations are the controversial ‘dystopian’ novels of the early 1930s-1960s written by Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451), Orwell (1984, Animal Farm), Huxley (A Brave New World) and Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) (specific influences in italics).  As a young writer, these authors were largely influential in my later masterwork, The Dirandan Chronicles, which is where I first explored dystopia and extremely dark political themes.  It has come in very useful in building a version of the Flatland that created Bill Cipher as we know him today.


(Notes:  This is the short film based on the book. Notable differences in this terrific film is that the Females are depicted as Shapes.  This was a creative license taken by the creators due to the fact that they were writing this primarily for Education, specifically Middle Grades, they were not really taking a political aspect in this film, more a Mathematical and Scientific one.  Lines, as I understand, are problematic in a variety of ways (animation being one, the political repression of Flatland being another).  I also have not listed the feature-length film of Flatland done in the same year since it is not the best representation of the source material. I may review both films at a later date.
There is a sequel to this Film, Sphereland, based in part by the sequel written by Dionys Burger, which shares elements of that book and influences of other spiritual sequels to Flatland itself.)