Sunday, August 30, 2009

There is Such a Thing as a Tesseract

In college, I learned that a tesseract is the four-dimensional analogue to the three-dimensional cube, in the same sense that the cube is the three-dimensional analogue of the two-dimensional square. This stuck in my mind quite clearly, because it wasn't the first time I had seen the unusual word before. Tesseract in my mind will forever be associated with the idea of a wrinkle in time, and the novel by the same name. A spate of cleaning in my parents attic gave me the opportunity to revisit Madeleine L'Engle's classic children's story and remind myself why it made such an impression on me.

On the surface, A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy story that contains other worlds, aliens, a great galactic threat, psychics, and my first encounter with one of the biggest cliches of pulp sci-fi (which I will not spoil here, in case you haven't read it). But the book also has real religious content, including several Biblical quotes. All of this is part of the reason the book remains just as impactful for me today as it did over two decades ago when I last read it. I think the thing that really stands out to me is the sheer amount of imagination on display. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that contains the combination of highly memorable characters and expansive world-building in such a small amount of space while sustaining an actual story.

This is one book that comes out of the attic and goes on the bookshelf, there to stay until it is read again. It's also a reminder (in case you missed the whole Harry Potter thing) that just because something is called a children's story, doesn't mean that it isn't good for adult readers.

1 comment:

Wes W. said...

A Wrinkle in Time had a huge impact on me as a kid! Thanks for reminding me that I need to dig out my old copy from the attic for my own children (ages 9, 6, and 4) to read some time in the fairly near future.