Sunday, August 15, 2010


The road to high saffron.

this is your world

By Jasper Fforde.












In colorimetry, the Munsell colour system is a colour space that specifies colours based on three colour dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (colour purity). It was created by Professor Albert H. Munsell in the first decade of the 20th century and adopted by the USDA as the official colour system for soil research in the 1930s.

Several earlier colour order systems had placed colours into a three dimensional colour solid of one form or another, but Munsell was the first to separate hue, value, and chroma into perceptually uniform and independent dimensions, and was the first to systematically illustrate the colours in three dimensional space.[1] Munsell’s system, and particularly the later renotations, is based on rigorous measurements of human subjects’ visual responses to colour, putting it on a firm experimental scientific basis. Because of this basis in human visual perception, Munsell’s system has outlasted its contemporary colour models, and though it has been superseded for some uses by models such as CIELAB (L*a*b*) and CIECAM02, it is still in wide use today. [2]

Imagine that you live in a post catastrophic world, where almost everything has been wiped out & spoons are a rare & highly valued commodity. This monumental incident referred to as "The something that happened" has left people blind to most colours & a persons life, social standing, job, partner etc. are defined by what colour they  can see.

Welcome to Chromatacia a society set 500 years after the collapse of a society very similar to our own, whose very foundations are based on the rules laid down by Munsell the founder of Chromatacia. In this post apocalyptic future everyone (almost) follows the rules without questioning them, no matter how strange, absurd or illogical they seem to be.

 "The word of Munsell was the rules, & the rules were the word of Munsell. They regulated everything we did, & had brought peace to the collective for nearly 4 centuries. They were sometimes very odd indeed- banning of the number between 72 & 74 was a case in point, & no one had  ever fully explained why it was forbidden to count sheep, make any new spoons or use acronyms. but they were the rules- & presumably for some very good reason, although what that might be was not entirely obvious."

In this world we meet Eddie Russet, who has been sent to an outer fringe town to conduct a chair census as a punishment & to learn humility because of some prank he played on a prefect's son. It's in this town he meets & falls head over heels for Jane a lowly grey & through her learns about how ruthless & controlling this world is beneath it's surface.

social strata "Continuous  sustainability. A community where everyone has their place, & everyone knows their place, & everyone works ceaselessly to maintain continuance. If you were to dispassionately consider the principle aim of society to be longevity rather than  fairness, then everything is downgraded to simply a means of attaining that goal. Rather than wait for a resident to prove themselves disharmonious, they are flagged early & sent off to reboot as  a   precaution. If you think about it, the whole notion is quite ingenious. "

Being new to the writing of Jasper Fforde, I looked him up on Wikipedia & it seems the genre's he writes in are- Alternate History, Comic Fantasy & Postmodern Literature, to which can be added Comic Dystopia & Just Plain Funny.

"This is where The Little Engine that could once sat.' She lapsed into silence & we all stood there respectfully, staring at an empty space in the air. What was it about?' asked one of the junior librarians, as clearly a tour was an honour not often bestowed. "It was about an engine", said Mrs Lapis -Lazuli,"that could".

Shades of Grey- The road to high Saffron, is the first in a series of books planned by Jasper Fforde & although not a great fan of Fantasy Fiction, I picked this up in my local library because of the writing on the back cover which said- part satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, it didn't disappoint, plus I was also intrigued to find out

                                  Where have all the spoons gone ?

True Literary Comic Genius-Sunday Express

Jasper on Wiki

Jasper's Home page


Anonymous said...

You read the most interesting books! This is another one I now want to add to my every growing stack...

Anonymous said...

Nice! I thought this was one in the Thursday Next series, but I understand now that it's totally different. I think this is something I would enjoy.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Judith, This was a really fun read, so much so that I,ve got The Eyre Affair, which I believe is a Thursday Next Book.

Bellezza said...

How interesting to write of a dystopia society and interweave the aspect of color with it. Your review reminds me both of Saramego's novel Blindness, and a novel I just finished by Hillary Jordan entitled When She Woke. In that dystopia an adulteress woke to find herself "color chromed" to red (like The Scarlet Lettet). Glad you've drawn my attention to Jaspar Fforde; The Eyre Affair sounds all the more interesting.