Sunday, 12 June 2011

Feeling Blue

I'm not actually feeling blue, except maybe a little bit because it's Monday tomorrow and I have done nothing useful all weekend, but I'm now going to talk about Shades of Grey (SOG) so thought I'd jam in a gratuitous colour reference.

SOG is another series that isn't because we have, as yet seen only one book, but it's my favourite.  SOG2 (Painting by Numbers) is planned for 2013.

SOG is set in Britain in the far distant future in a colourtocratic society, in which there is a caste system in which your position is dictated by the colours that you can see.  Society is run according to strict but arbitrary rules laid down long ago by Munsell and enforced through a system of merits and demerits.  When Eddie Russett, a Red, falls foul of the rules he is sent to East Carmine in the outer reaches of civilisation to carry out a chair census.  He travels with his father who is to act as relief Swatchman - a kind of doctor who treats people with the application of various hues.  On the way to East Carmine he doesn't see the last rabbit, but does encounter a grey (a member of the lowest stratum of society) named Jane.

Once he reaches his destination he again meets Jane and discovers that there is a sickness at the heart of society...

Again I'm not going to spoil the plot (too much, though I'm sure that you'd guess very early on in the book that something is rotten in the state).  Plus as it is only the first episode I don't know what's going to happen anyway.

It'a dystopian fiction, but funny dystopian fiction.  We had lots of fun at the 1985 Ffiesta with some of the themes.  There's the absurd rules, the dress codes, the requirement to have a hobby from a list of approved hobbies, the fact that everybody/every creature is born ready bar coded, the constant fear of swan attacks and lightning, the need to look after your spoon - nobody may manufacture spoons, so it is advisable to guard yours well and keep it with you at all times.  We were also very fortunate in that the Last Rabbit was able to attend, in fact looks set to become a regular attendee!

Anyway Jasper has said that the society of SOG is meant to feel like an english boarding school, bad food and requirement to take part in games and all.  It's certainly a far cry from Mallory Towers or Hogwarts, but none the worse for that.

As I said it's my favourite Fforde book so far, but I think it might be more of a Marmite book than his other work - brilliant with toast!


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