"Flatlander" is an English language science fiction short story written in 1967 by Larry Niven. It is the third in the series of Known Space stories featuring crashlander Beowulf Shaeffer. The short story was originally published in Worlds of If, March 1967, and reprinted in Neutron Star, and Crashlander.
|Published in||Worlds of If|
|Published in English||March 1967|
|Preceded by||""At the Core""|
Traveling to Earth after his trip to the core of the Milky Way Galaxy, Beowulf "Bey" Shaeffer befriends Gregory Pelton, a fabulously wealthy and gregarious flatlander (Earth-born human) who calls himself Elephant. Irritated at always being labeled a flatlander despite having logged many hours in space, Elephant decides to visit the most unusual system in or near Known Space, and has his agents put in a call to meet with the nearest Outsider vessel. Elephant, as well as two women named Diana and Sharrol, show Shaeffer around Earth for a few days; Shaeffer and Sharrol quickly develop a romantic relationship.
Four days after landing on Earth, Elephant and Shaeffer travel to the edge of Known Space in Elephant's ship, the Slower Than Infinity (written ST∞), to meet the Outsiders for information on the location of the most unusual system in Known Space. The Outsiders charge a million "stars" (the interstellar currency) for the whereabouts of the system and Elephant accepts; the Outsiders also offer to explain, for an additional two hundred thousand stars, what exactly makes the star system unusual. Elephant declines when they reveal that he will be able to find this out for himself.
The Outsiders ferry the Slower Than Infinity to the system. The two make a list of particularities apparent about the planet orbiting what Shaeffer dubs the Fast Protosun:
Endangered by the final peculiarity, they only have just enough time to get their helmets on. The remainder of the ship, along with the stowed extension bubble, is still intact. Elephant insists on attempting to land on the planet anyway but Shaeffer convinces him that, unless he can explain why the General Products hull disappeared, they should run for it. Elephant agrees, resentfully, but says that if he were alone he would go down.
With some difficulty, they return to Jinx. Most of the trip is made in silence as Elephant is not happy about running. Shaeffer gets in contact with a General Products puppeteer, declaring that his GP hull failed. He gives the puppeteer details about their exploration of the fast protosun and the puppeteer agrees to pay the indemnity, noting that they were unaware that such quantities of antimatter were present anywhere in the galaxy. This, the puppeteer explains, is what caused the hull to evaporate.
It is thus revealed to Shaeffer and Elephant that what made the system the most distinctive was its composition: antimatter, which General Products hulls are not resistant to. Elephant finally understands why he’s just a "flatlander": He does not instinctively recognize that the universe is a dangerous place to live.
Flatlander may refer to:
"Flatlander" (short story), a 1967 story by Larry Niven
Flatlander (short story collection), a 1975 collection of short stories by Larry Niven
Flatlander (Niven), a term used in Larry Niven's works
A character in the 1884 Edwin Abbott novella Flatland
The Flatlanders, a country music band
Andy Morin, producer for hip hop group Death Grips often referred to as "Flatlander."
Flatlander, a term for newcomers to the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire or VermontFlatlander (Niven)
Flatlander is a term used in Larry Niven's fictional universe of Known Space. It is also the title of two works in the Known Space canon.Flatlander (short story collection)
Flatlander (ISBN 0-345-39480-1) is a 1995 collection of stories by American writer Larry Niven, all set in Known Space. It is the definitive collection of all stories by Niven about ARM agent Gil Hamilton. Many of the stories revolve around the theme of involuntary organ transplantation.
The book includes the stories Death by Ecstasy (formerly The Organleggers), The Defenseless Dead, ARM, The Patchwork Girl, and The Woman in Del Rey Crater—the only previously unpublished story in the collection.
The collection is essentially a replacement for a 1976 collection called The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton (ISBN 0-345-24868-6) which contained only the first three stories. The Patchwork Girl was also published alone as a novel in 1986 (ISBN 0-441-65315-4).
The title derives from the in-universe term flatlander, referring to an Earth-living human, as opposed to those who do not live on planets. This is because the land looks flat.