A Heroic Librarian

A librarian in Manilla discovered and rescued a two dimensional civilisation this morning. K- is to be congratulated for quick thinking and strong Euclidian intuition. The flatland-style entities were living on a surface comprised of all the pages in a reproduction of Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, book three. They had structured their world around the lettering so that each paragraph was a continent, and apparently did not notice page edges, with their world running over onto the next page with no discernible break.

K- found it easy to communicate with the entities on a person-to-civilisation level, as a rather disturbingly power hungry mathematician had apparently been representing himself as a god. He’d been able to teach the entities to communicate by building tiny (to us) letters, readable through a magnifying glass. He had then built up a priesthood and set up a society that spent every spare resource building monuments in his honour, at pain of catastrophe.

Unknown to this selfish deity however, another civilisation had been building up in the back of the book. They destroyed themselves with the two dimensional equivalent of “grey goo”, a nanomachine or biological agent which converts everything it encounters into more of itself. This grey plague had been rapidly progressing down the pages, rendering the book unreadable as it went. Unable to stop the disaster (he seems to have tried ripping pages out) the mathematician abandoned his tiny religious empire.

It seems the tiny world can’t be separated from the book they live in without ceasing to function, but K- had the ingenious idea of folding and gluing the infected pages back towards the end of the book, trapping the grey goo in its own circular pocket universe and saving the terrified civilisation. They appear to believe that K- has defeated and replaced their previous “deity”, and have re-purposed the temples to worship her, but being a librarian she has insisted that they focus on education instead.

It is not known how this particular book became a cradle of 2D life. Investigations will begin, and the mathematician is being tracked down to discover what he knows. He had recorded his name in the front of the book, so it is not anticipated that finding him will be hard. He will also be educated on our responsibilities towards tiny sentient beings.


If you enjoy the story please leave the author a comment, as this makes him very happy. You can also help the Archive check our books for tiny civilisations by voting at Top Web Fiction. We drift on and off the bottom of the Top Web Fiction list, so a vote each week does wonders for our visibility!

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4 thoughts on “A Heroic Librarian

    • There’s no reason you can’t write your own version! Imagine a 2D civilisation unaware that they lived on the surface of a sphere, or who shared our world but could only be seen from exactly the right angle. Or whatever else your awesome mind can come up with. 😉

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  1. I suppose for a book, this is analogous to a human having their own appendix removed. As for me, I rather think my own personified mathematical functions are in their own 2D world to… though fractal dimensions also exist between ours and theirs, breaking the analogy somewhat, and making communication difficult.

    Tangentially related, has anyone reading this seen the tv show “The Librarians”, now entering it’s third season? I wonder if this librarian was one of the applicants that didn’t quite make the cut.

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