**spoiler alert** Heralded as the best Time Travel novel of all. (Time, ha ha!) Very, very weird, and definitely thought-provoking. Parts were fascina...more**spoiler alert** Heralded as the best Time Travel novel of all. (Time, ha ha!) Very, very weird, and definitely thought-provoking. Parts were fascinating: Daniel inherits a Time Belt that allows him to travel through time from his Uncle. He travels through time, trying to change his future, his past, his world for the better - yet he is completely trapped in a temporal loop that he cannot escape from. It turns out he is his own father and mother (from a different temporal universe where he is a she), and they have a love affair, and have a son. Or daughter, sometimes.
Daniel is raised by "Uncle Jim," who later turns out to be himself. The lead up to that was very logical, so I wasn't surprised by the development (which is a good thing!). Overall the logical exercises, the philosophical questioning about the consequences of our actions, both to ourselves and the world, was fascinating, my kind of prose. I also loved the Descartes-esque exploration of Daniel's multiple psyches; he is always Danny, but always not - sane, crazy, male, female, in love with himself and revolted by himself — almost a singularity of existence. Very cool.
But the book's action — Daniel's adventures, his excitement, and even his later love affair with himself, felt a little flat for me. It actually put me in mind of Philip K. Dick, in that the high concept made the book well worth reading, but in the end the narration itself let me down ever so slightly. (less)
Fascinating, reminded me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Great insight into True Believers, also, and how people react when their worldview is challe...moreFascinating, reminded me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Great insight into True Believers, also, and how people react when their worldview is challenged. Poor little square that lives in a two-dimensional world has an experience in the third dimension, sees the truth of our natures, and is unable to relay his experiences to his fellow two-dimensional inhabitants, because the third dimension is not visible, can only be inferred. Ultimately he is unsuccessful and imprisoned for knowing the truth, and being unable to let it go. He could be a parallel to scientists, or to great religious visionaries, equally — because there is no evidence for his claims, at least to his peers. Wow.
Also interesting is the flatlanders' devotion to very traditional, antiquated, borderline offensive mores. Women are ignorant, docile, and uneducated; men must stay in the station they are born into, and only their offspring have a chance at a higher class (those that are, are taken away from their inferior parents); the highest classes control government and education for the masses. Abhorrent to enlightened us in "spaceland" — right?
Wow. what an allegory!
Notable quotes: "Yet mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn this lesson, that to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, and that to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy." (Sphere to square, regarding the lowly point)
"Its own Thought coming to Itself, suggestive of Its disparagement, thereby to enhance Its happiness!" (Point to self, not recognizing that the cruel words spoken by the Square were coming from outside the point's own universe. Great illustration of the true believer's thought acrobatics.)
"Prometheus up in Spaceland was bound for bringing down fire for mortals, but I -- poor Flatland Prometheus -- lie here in prison for bringing down nothing to my countrymen." (What was the point of his journey, his glimpse of the True nature of things? He is viewed as a crazy person, preacher of apostacy, and even his own memories of the things he saw fade over time and distance, with no one to share his certainty.)(less)
My enjoyment of this book was tempered by Blade Runner. The movie is so imprinted on my memory, and had such an impact on my view of souls, androids,...moreMy enjoyment of this book was tempered by Blade Runner. The movie is so imprinted on my memory, and had such an impact on my view of souls, androids, created vs. evolved, etc. The book is phenomenal, and I can see how it was earth-shattering in its day. But since the central questioning realization was denied me, I could only read with a view to its literary and storytelling merits.
For me, these don't hold up quite as well. I think I, yet again, expected to be wowed by such a universally praised book; when I wasn't, I felt just a tad let down. There just wasn't anything new or unexplored — For example, in the movie the actress discovers she is an android, and the multiple emotions play across her face in such a beautiful, musical way. In comparison, the character as read felt a bit flat. In fact, all of the characters were so well developed in the movie; in the book, they almost felt like unrealized wire frames.
However I think this is a consequence of both overhyped expectations, and seeing the movie before reading the book.
If I had come to this book a 'virgin', I might have felt differently. (less)