Excerpt of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
(Page 6 of 7)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
Any colorized park was a must- see for visitors, and Vermillions offering
certainly didnt disappoint. The color garden, laid out within the city
walls, was a leafy enclave of dappled shade, fountains, pergolas, gravel
paths, statuary and flowerbeds. It also had a bandstand and an ice cream
stall, even if there was no band, nor any ice cream. But what made Vermillions
park really special was that it was supplied by color piped direct
from the grid, so it was impressively bright. We walked up to the main
grassed area, just past the picturesque, ivy- gripped Rodin, and stared at
the expanse of synthetic green. It was a major improvement on the park
back home, because the overall scheme was tuned for the predominance
of Red eyes. In Jade- under- Lime the bias was more toward those who
could see green, which meant that the grass was hardly colored at all and
everything red was turned up far too bright. Here the color balance was
pretty much perfect, and we stood in silence, contemplating the subtle
Chromatic symphony laid out in front of us.
Id give my left plum to move to a Red sector, murmured Dad in a
rare display of crudeness.
You already pledged the left one, I pointed out, in the vague hope
that Old Man Magenta would retire early.
Last autumn, after the incident with the rhinosaurus.
What a dope that man is, said Dad, shaking his head sadly. Old
Man Magenta was our head prefect and, like many Purples, would have
trouble recognizing himself in a mirror.
Do you think thats really the color of grass? asked Dad after a
I shrugged. There was no real way of telling. The most we could say
was that this was what National Color felt the color of grass should be.
Ask a Green how green grass was and theyd ask you how red was an
apple. But interestingly, the grass wasnt uniformly green. An area the size
of a tennis court in the far corner of the lawn had changed to an unpleasant
bluey- green. The discordancy was spreading like a water stain, and
the off- color area had also taken in a tree and several beds of flowers,
which now displayed unusual hues quite outside Standard Botanical
Gamut. Intrigued, we noticed there was someone staring into an access
hatch close to the anomaly, so we wandered over to have a look.
We expected him to be a National Color engineer working on the
problem, but he wasnt. He was a Red park keeper, and he glanced at our
spots, then hailed us in a friendly manner.
Problems? asked Dad.
Of the worst sort, replied the park keeper wearily. Another blockage.
The Council are always promising to have the park repiped, but
whenever they get any money, they spend it on swan early- warning systems,
lightning protection or something equally daft.
It was unguarded talk, but we were Reds, too, so he knew he was safe.
We peered curiously into the access hatch where the cyan, yellow and
magenta color pipes fed into one of the many carefully calibrated mixers
in order to achieve the various hues required for the grass, shrubs and
flowers. From there they would feed the network of capillaries that had
been laid beneath the park. Colorizing gardens was a complex task that
involved matching the osmotic coefficients of the different plants with
the specific gravities of the dyes and that was before you got started on
pressure density evaporation rates and seasonal hue variation. Colorists
earned their perks and bonuses.
I had a pretty good idea what the problem was, even without looking
at the flow meters. The bluey- green caste of the lawn, the grey appearance of the celandines and the purplish poppies suggested localized yellow
deficiency, and this was indeed the case the yellow flow meter was
firmly stuck on zero. But the viewing port was full of yellow, so it wasnt
a supply issue from the park substation.
Excerpted from Shades of Grey
by Jasper Fforde. Copyright © 2009 by Jasper Fforde.
Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.