Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows—only hard and with luminous edges—and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said my universe : but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.
In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a solid kind; but I dare say you will suppose that we could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles, Squares, and other figures, moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except Straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.
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Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle. But now, drawing back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland , and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view; and at last when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatlander the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line.
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The same thing would happen if you were to treat in the same way a Triangle, or Square, or any other figure cut out of pasteboard. As soon as you look at it with your eye on the edge of the table, you will find that it ceases to appear to you a figure, and that it becomes in appearance a straight line. Take for example an equilateral Triangle—who represents with us a Tradesman of the respectable class.
When I was in Spaceland I heard that your sailors have very similar experiences while they traverse your seas and discern some distant island or coast lying on the horizon. The far-off land may have bays, forelands, angles in and out to any number and extent; yet at a distance you see none of these unless indeed your sun shines bright upon them revealing the projections and retirements by means of light and shade , nothing but a grey unbroken line upon the water.
Well, that is just what we see when one of our triangular or other acquaintances comes toward us in Flatland. As there is neither sun with us, nor any light of such a kind as to make shadows, we have none of the helps to the sight that you have in Spaceland. If our friend comes closer to us we see his line becomes larger; if he leaves us it becomes smaller: but still he looks like a straight line; be he a Triangle, Square, Pentagon, Hexagon, Circle, what you wilt—a straight Line he looks and nothing else.
His exploits are detailed in five "Gil 'the Arm' Hamilton" stories. The stories are noir style, told in first person , and frequently involve exotic technology and locked room mysteries :. The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton contains the first three novellas. Emil Horne , a native of Jinx , is a top-flight computer programmer. He meets Shaeffer on a trip from Down to Gummidgy and they struck up a quick friendship. Horne is short and strongly built like most natives of Jinx, a high-gravity world. His ability to ask the right questions when programming complex problems also helps him deduce the probable identities of the kidnappers when the Kdatlyno touch sculptor Lloobee is kidnapped from the Argos as it was about to enter Gummidgy system.
When he attempts to enter the cave, however, a stun-gun set in the "on" position a facing the door renders Horne unconscious. He is returned along with Lloobee after Shaeffer escapes from the kidnappers with Lloobee's help. Sharrol Janss , a native of Earth, is Shaeffer's wife and the mother of their daughter, Jeena and another child, name unknown, whom she was pregnant with when Shaeffer encountered Ander Smittarasheed on Fafnir in Sharrol first met Beowulf Shaeffer on Earth when she picked his pocket, and was later formally introduced to him by Dianna and Elephant as a fourth for bridge.
Sharrol also has two children by Carlos Wu, Tanya and Louis , as part of an arrangement between the three so that Bey and Sharrol could raise children together on Earth. Sharrol suffers from Flatland Phobia, a fear of changes to a person's environment, gravity, etc. She was employed at the time she met Shaeffer as a computer analyst for Donovan's Brains, Inc. She had been previously employed by the Epcot-Atlanta police. During her childhood her father ran a lobster ranch in Boston. She was able to travel to Fafnir asleep inside Carlo Wu's special autodoc and later was frozen for travel to Home when Ander Smittarasheed located Bey on Fafnir.
Alice Jordan is a Belter and a Goldskin , a member of the Belt Police in the mid-twenty-fourth century.
Together with flatlander Roy Truesdale, they set out for the Kuiper Belt in search of Jack Brennan, a human turned Protector who has been abducting humans for study. Lerner , Alice is found in a stasis field in a singleship by Outsiders. They sell the singleship containing her to Sigmund Ausfaller who releases her from stasis. Ausfaller deduces that Brennan put Alice in stasis and sent her far from the danger described in Protector because she is pregnant with his descendant.
Nessus is a member of the technologically advanced alien race known to Humans as Pierson's Puppeteer , and amongst themselves as Citizens. Nessus, like almost all Puppeteers ever met by humans, is insane by Puppeteer standards.
Sane Puppeteers are far too cautious cowardly from the human perspective to go off-world or interact with non-Puppeteers, thus only insane individuals like Nessus can manage to act as business liaisons or ambassadors to other species, as he does with humans and others. Nessus demonstrates traits that in humans would be diagnosed as manic-depressive disorder , displacement , and at times, extreme suggestibility. His interactions with humans cause him to be one of the few Puppeteers to ever show any support for Human interests as coequal to Puppeteer interests. He is also directly responsible for the presence of Sigmund Ausfaller on New Terra.
Nessus is featured in the short story " The Soft Weapon " printed in the collection Neutron Star and is one of the expeditionaries to the Ringworld in the book of the same name. Peter Nordbo is an astronomer and noble on Wunderland , and during the First Man-Kzin War , was pressed into service for the Kzin following their occupation of the world. At the height of the occupation, he discovered a source of bizarre radiation on a world many lightyears away, and was taken to investigate by the scientifically minded Kzin who oversaw him.
During the flight, forces under Buford Early and Ulf Reichstein Markham liberated Wunderland, and Nordbo was convicted of collaboration and stripped of all of his possessions.
Letting art instill pride | Flatland KC
In order to secure his release and clear his name, his daughter Tyra secured the help of Robert Saxtorph and his ship to investigate. They found that Peter had discovered a remnant of the Tnuctipun , a black hole powered hyperdrive that could also be used as a powerful Hawking radiation beam weapon. Peter had freed himself from the Kzinti and was reunited with Tyra, and after the weapon was destroyed by the Kzin, returned to Wunderland to free his name. Gregory Pelton , aka "Elephant" for a certain anatomical resemblance to a feature of the large Earth land animal , a native of Earth, is probably the richest human alive.
His great-to-the-eighth grandmother invented the transfer booth. It is rumored that he actually owns known space, and gets income from renting it out, and that General Products Corporation is actually a front for him. Pelton lives in a house on the side of a cliff in the Rocky Mountains on Earth, and having spent a lot of time in space resents being called a flatlander. Pelton is of average height but strongly built, looking not so much overweight as solid. Most humans in this period of time on Earth are in excellent health, with autodocs to maintain their bodies and boosterspice to prevent aging; Pelton presumably uses both.
Pelton and Shaeffer's personalities tend to complement each other, and they quickly made friends when Shaeffer first encountered him aboard the Lensman , bound for Earth from Jinx after Shaeffer's fateful trip to the core of the Milky Way galaxy. Pelton can be cordial and pleasant but also very direct and blunt when it suits him. He is patient but his patience has limits, and while he is as cautious as anyone he can sometimes act without thinking, a trait that would have gotten him killed if Shaeffer had not talked him out of landing on the protosun's planet when they visited it in , as the planet, named "Cannonball Express" by Pelton and Shaeffer, was composed of antimatter, which would have destroyed even Pelton's General Products-hulled ship, the Slower Than Infinity.
Indeed, the hull eventually disintegrated due to annihilations by antimatter particles but Pelton and Shaeffer were able to escape and managed to return to Jinx. After Shaeffer and Pelton returned from Cannonball Express Pelton made plans to return but when government agencies became involved the plan bogged down in details. Ander Smittarasheed told Shaeffer that as of it was unclear whether Pelton was still involved in the project at all.
Shaeffer and Pelton still maintained contact after the trip to Cannonball Express; when Shaeffer secretly emigrated to Fafnir with Sharrol, their children, and Carlos Wu and Feather Filip, Elephant gave him the money he received from General Products Corporation for the indemnity on his General Products hull, destroyed by exposure to antimatter particles from the Fast Protosun's solar wind; the money was deposited on accounts in Fafnir and Home, where the group planned to emigrate to, using assumed identities, after secretly arriving on Fafnir. In Juggler of Worlds, Pelton is powerful enough to control the SecGen of the fictional UN, and becomes a wanted criminal on the run, the authors' way of explaining why he never returns to the Known Space universe.
This Pierson's Puppeteer , a native of the Fleet-of-Worlds working for General Products in Known Space , contracted with Shaeffer to pilot a spaceship in a close fly-by of newly discovered neutron star BVS-1 to discover what killed the first two explorers to make the attempt, Peter and Sonya Laskin.
After Shaeffer's return from BVS-1, the puppeteer also agreed to pay Shaeffer one million stars in return for his silence concerning whether the puppeteer homeworld had a moon.
Letting art instill pride
This puppeteer called "Honey" by an overly tired Shaeffer at one point, due to his female-sounding voice , also worked for General Products. Ulf Reichstein-Markham was born on Wunderland in , the son of a solar system Belter. Following the occupation of Wunderland by the Kzinti in the First Man-Kzin War , at the age of 18 he joined the "Free Wunderland Navy," what purported to be a resistance group but was little more than a band of space pirates occupying the Serpent Swarm Alpha Centauri 's asteroid belt.
He was responsible for the capture of the United Nations spaceship Catskinner , whose crew later were responsible for the assassination of Chuut-Riit. He also came under the control of a Thrint who escaped its Slaver stasis field before being destroyed by the Catskinner AI. By the time Wunderland was liberated in , Reichstein-Markham had become an admiral , and then was chosen to be Minister of War for the free Wunderlander government.
He finally died in the year after being selected to chair the Interworld Commission, an early form of pan-human government established after the peace treaty with the Kzin was signed. Prior to his death, he had used his position to give the secret of hyperdrive to the Kzin disguised as a diplomatic packet, in the hopes of creating a lasting peace of equality between the two races.
Although he did not live to see it, Reichstein-Markham's treachery meant that, far from his intentions, the Kzin would grow strong enough to launch four additional wars of conquest against the human worlds. Charles Martin Shaeffer is nicknamed "Little" Shaeffer and is known to most of his friends simply as "Lit".
A Belter, born in the late 21st century, he is First Speaker for the Belt Political Section when Kzanol the thrint is revived from stasis in the early 22nd century. He is friends with Lucas Garner and has visited with him at least once on Farmer's Asteroid, one of the Belt Bubbleworlds.