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last updated : April 11th 2010


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Shades of Grey
Posted by: adnil (---.whidbey.net)
Date: May 08, 2010 09:26PM

I'm dying to talking about this one. I'd say it's my favorite of all.

What's he up to? Do human beings have some kind of implant that makes them react to swatches? Was it selective breeding? Is everyone lying in a bed and living life in a virtual world? The universal hues are very suspicious, too. Artificial ocular lenses? Or perhaps people are just shown various hues at birth that determine what they can see.

And I must admit that I'm inclined to believe Mr. Baxter: I think it could be some kind of experiment and people are being culled more rapidly, because the experiment is nearing its end.

Maybe the Fallen Man (not the tea house) is a pilot from another society who bailed out of his plane.

Anyway, I hope Eddie and Jane get ahold of an ovulation swatch. Then we might find out if their child has full color vision. And complete the ceiling at Rusty Hill, of course.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.manc.cable.ntl.com)
Date: May 09, 2010 01:36PM

Yes, I enjoyed it, but it is very different to the others, isn't it?

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: gailfus (192.227.62.---)
Date: May 10, 2010 05:17PM

I think Shades of Grey is an amazing book. My thoughts on "what this is" follow:

I believe that England was turned into a penal colony at some point ("flak towers"), and what was a means of controlling the inmates has now become a way of life. Most truly violent behavior was trained away and replaced by rigid rules and technology regression that keeps people "in line." I'm a bit stymied by the color selection, though I suppose advanced tehcnology/experiementation could account for this, which would make the tech regressions even more crucial to keeping the peace. I would assume that there might be a way to communicate to and/or within the color groups that would be undetectable to the other colors and perhaps this was another retraining tactic/technique used on the inmates. The lack of night vision is a very intriguing twist to this whole thing that I will be eager to see Eddie explore, as well.

The Fallen Man was clearly not of this society/time--I'll be intersted to know his story when it comes out.

Also, and this is completely wild conjecture based on a gut feeling, I am firmly convinced that the Color Man is Eddie's "real" father and that this is why he shows so much interest in Eddie.

This, like Jasper's other books, has driven me to research to better understand the context. I found Albert Munsell's diaries online (http://www.cis.rit.edu/mcsl/online/munselldiaries.php) and scanned through them, in addition to reading up on Munsell through more biographical sources. I think it's incredibly clever of Jasper to have thought of using this as a premise for a book. What fun it has been getting into a different mindset entirely to comprehend the book and where Jasper is leading us.

My favorite quote from the book:

"Munsell in a CANOE!"

:)

Cheers,

gailfus

"In the absence of clearly defined goals we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia." - Unknown

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: geg (---.15-2.cable.virginmedia.com)
Date: May 11, 2010 10:41AM

I agree with adnil - this is my favourite of his books. I love the idea of a post armageddon world that is so far into the future that nobody is really interested in what happened any more. In addition the quiet acceptance of idiosyncratic rules and customs is applicable to all societies though often only visible from the outside. I think spring will come whatever I do, but I still bring holly an ivy into the house in mid winter. In the book I found the things that were the same as our time just as intriguing as those that were different.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: mpepper (---.hsd1.ma.comcast.net)
Date: May 11, 2010 01:23PM

Really enjoyed this book. Just a couple questions--so don't read on if you don't want anything spoiled! I can't promise my questions won't give anything away.

1. The Apocryphal Man--he seems surprised that Eddie can see him (naked), even goes so far as to wear a suit later, but then we find out he's spoken with Lucy before. Did he not realize Lucy could see him naked?

2. High Saffron--we discover the Night Train goes here. So why didn't anyone notice the rail track while walking there? Surely it's visible somewhere, if it's an inverted monorail (or am I just picturing it badly?).

I wonder about the swans and the ball lightning, whether there's a military sort of explanation for these things. (My husband says no, that they're just scare tactics, though we've seen the ball lighting already.) The Fallen Man and his chair make me wonder, though.

And I have this notion that complementary colors aren't allowed to marry because they might produce offspring that can see the whole spectrum. "The Big Picture," as it were--perhaps literally, in the case of the unfinished painting in Rusty Hill?

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: PrinzHilde (---.dip.t-dialin.net)
Date: May 11, 2010 03:06PM

I got the impression the Night Train is runing along the coast and does not cross the mountains, at least not at East Carmine. (If you have solved the Sleuthing riddles, you might have found out that the line serving East Carmine passes the village in a south-north direction without going further west.)

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.196.31.164.threembb.co.uk)
Date: May 11, 2010 06:37PM

Hi mpepper. At this point Iwould usually invite you to join us in Nextian, but as Mr. Fforde has been too busy (on the next book?) and we don't yet have a SoG thread, you are already here! So, help yourself to pies. (Other foodstuffs are available, but I don't make those and so will leave the providers to invite.) I am sure that whoever is looking after the drinks trolley will be along soon.

On to your points. I agree with PH about the route and would add that SPOILER ALERT!! the book describes the jump back as banning railways, so I envisage the monorail as asingle ground mounted rail with the gyro-stabilised train balancing at the same level as a normal train.

The fallen man in his chair? a pilot and ejector seat, perhaps?


Other than that, if we are all happy to accept Thursday living in a world where the Welsh have split from the U.K and the Crimean War went on well after 1856, and that anyone could possibly believe that Swindon Mallets could ever make the Superhoop), why not assume that this is another leg in the trousers of time?

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: gailfus (192.227.62.---)
Date: May 11, 2010 09:46PM

The best part about Jasper's books is that they give us just enough of our own reality, or at least things we can understand and/or relate to, that we find it possible to suspend the rest of reality to get fully immersed in the stories. Whether that's a world where people only see certain colors or a detective named Mary Mary goes on a date with an alien who works in her office, or a giant gingerbread man who turns out to be a genetically produced killing machine, or a car that fixes itself until the odometer runs itself out backward, or SommeWorld, Cautionaries, and rogue minotaurs...They all relate to something we know, have read, or have heard about sometime in our lives. The most fun is getting into the story to the point where you even kind of hope some of it is real.

I, for one, would love to find that it's possible to actually get into the book world and see books being constructed or reconstructed. That to me is one of the richest pictures Jasper has ever conjured up. A place where books are lived and felt and tasted and cherished as living things.

Cheers,

gailfus

"In the absence of clearly defined goals we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia." - Unknown

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: geg (---.15-2.cable.virginmedia.com)
Date: May 11, 2010 09:54PM

In one of the infomercials from National colour, available elsewhere on this site, the killer giant swans look an awful lot like aeroplanes.

I second PrinzHilde's suggestion that you look at the sleuthing page - it is possible to work out where all the places are.

I will be around with the drinks trolly - just as soon as I can remember where my apron is.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.196.230.214.threembb.co.uk)
Date: May 12, 2010 06:31PM

gailfus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I, for one, would love to find that it's possible
> to actually get into the book world and see books
> being constructed or reconstructed. That to me is
> one of the richest pictures Jasper has ever
> conjured up. A place where books are lived and
> felt and tasted and cherished as living things.

That is what first grabbed me and to this day I am sat here waiting for Mr. Fforde to make this available on his sales pages.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: Ffran (---.dsl.wotnoh.sbcglobal.net)
Date: May 13, 2010 12:38AM

gailfus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I, for one, would love to find that it's possible
> to actually get into the book world and see books
> being constructed or reconstructed.

You're invited to my bookbinding studio (aka, my living room!)

Oh....not quite what you had in mind?

I just finished SOG (I KNOW, rather late to the game!), and loved it. I'm just fascinated by these worlds J. creates, all of them (but probably would only want to actually visit Thursday's). I'm just as eager for the next SOG as I am for the next TN, though.

_____________________________

If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would
ever get done.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: steeljam (---.range86-153.btcentralplus.com)
Date: May 17, 2010 06:57PM

mpepper Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> 2. High Saffron--we discover the Night Train goes
> here. So why didn't anyone notice the rail track
> while walking there? Surely it's visible
> somewhere, if it's an inverted monorail (or am I
> just picturing it badly?).
A normal monorail would hang below the rail and therefore be visible. THe Inverted monorail is like a normal train but only has one rail therefore not visible if in a cutting.
>
> I wonder about the swans and the ball lightning,
> whether there's a military sort of explanation for
> these things. (My husband says no, that they're
> just scare tactics, though we've seen the ball
> lighting already.) The Fallen Man and his chair
> make me wonder, though.
Swans flying high look like aircraft. Did the fallen man fall out of one of the aircraft.

I am really enjoying the book at so many levels. As a story, as a puzzle and as a research project. The Sleuthing competition was excellent. My copy of the book is covered in notes and observations. Cannot wait for the next beek and the Ffiesta.

-----------------------------------------
Joint winner Colouring Competition 2007
and outright winner of the 3 time winner of the Ffestival Dodo Feeding competition.
Fforde Ffiesta Ffotos are here - [www.flickr.com]

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: gingergeoff (---.rmcs.cranfield.ac.uk)
Date: May 19, 2010 11:51AM

You know what I love most about Jasper's books? The fact that I always feel like he's got this huge alternate universe all worked out in his head and he's allowing us just a tiny peek at it.

At the same time, it feels like he's telling a joke that everybody else in the room understands apart from you ;-)

Geoff. (Green, not sure what percentage).

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: Violetmoon (---.hsd1.tn.comcast.net)
Date: May 27, 2010 01:25AM

@ SkidMarks - yes, quite different! The Thursday books all end well and happy. This one ended with me frowning. "No, no, no, that is NOT how it's supposed to end!" (I know, I know, this is Jasper's book, not mine!)

Another big difference is that in the Thursday books, it is reasonable to expect people to "get" most of the references. I know I have missed a great deal. So much of this world is in Jasper's head, and we'll just have to be content to look at what he is willing to show us now. That "peek" Geoff mentioned. This is a book I'll have to read a couple of times to even feel like I understand what is going on. I have a feeling that after we read the second and third books, lots more of the first book will make sense.

One of these days I'll learn not to read the first in a series until at least the second one is written. (yeah, right)

@ gailfus - thank you for the link to the diaries. That should prove to be an interesting read. I rather liked that canoe "expletive" too - I'm wondering if it means more after you read the diaries?

To me, the Fallen Man has to be someone ejected from an airplane. Logically, there isn't much else he could be. However, there is so much of that world that I can't force into "my" logic that I'm not sure...

Anyone else wonder what Eddie & Jane are going to do with that "floatie" aircraft they found in the barn?

Mister Jasper, sir, please write faster! (grin)

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.196.201.111.threembb.co.uk)
Date: May 27, 2010 07:05PM

Forgive me, those of you who are not PTerry fans, but one of the reasons that I consider myself a ffan of Fforde (ffofFf?) is that like the wonderful TP, he litters his books with references, but even if you don't get any of them, the story holds up.

I can't think of another author who does this. Even Douglas Adams, who was living near the bulding site which became the M25 as he was writing the 1st H2G2 series uses it as a plot element rather than a throw-away.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: steeljam (---.range86-147.btcentralplus.com)
Date: May 30, 2010 11:01PM

gingergeoff Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You know what I love most about Jasper's books?
> The fact that I always feel like he's got this
> huge alternate universe all worked out in his head
> and he's allowing us just a tiny peek at it.
>
> At the same time, it feels like he's telling a
> joke that everybody else in the room understands
> apart from you ;-)
>
> Geoff. (Green, not sure what percentage).
Having seen the Legion of Danver's Clones marching around the courtyard of the hotel he commented it was like seeing something from inside his head and as he was inside his head it was wierd. There were generics and other members of Jaspers mind attending the Ffiesta.

-----------------------------------------
Joint winner Colouring Competition 2007
and outright winner of the 3 time winner of the Ffestival Dodo Feeding competition.
Fforde Ffiesta Ffotos are here - [www.flickr.com]

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: Boo Radley (---.central.biz.rr.com)
Date: June 09, 2010 08:42PM

As for what exactly is going on in the book, I think the flak towers are just that. Towers which housed flak cannons of some sort. There's mention of large, wrecked metal tractor-like machines which sounded to me like tanks. I think there was a war of some sort. Beyond that, I don't know. Is Britain a prison camp? Possible.
Could the color specific blindness be some kind of genetic mutation caused by the war? Beats me.
Is the falling man a pilot and his ejector seat. That's my bet.

And I could be WAY OFF on all my ideas.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.196.69.63.threembb.co.uk)
Date: June 10, 2010 06:35PM

Hi Boo Radley, welcome.

I agree with you about the war-based 0bjects, particularly the fallen man. I don't know about the prison camp, though. Perhaps it is isolated by other means?

Anyway, regardless of your colour perception, you will find that the pies are easy to differentiate, sweet to the left (marked with a pastry "S"), savoury to the right, (marked with a letter "S",made from pastry). You will have to provide your own spoon, though. Sorry.

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: Boo Radley (---.central.biz.rr.com)
Date: June 10, 2010 09:37PM

Pies are our reminder that there can indeed be heaven on earth.
Thinking of spoons makes me think of sporks and the first time I heard the term. It was several years ago in a Taco Hell restaurant and as I turned one over and over in my hand I muttered, "What the heck is this?" a seven year old boy said, "It's called a spork! You don't get out much do you?"
And I cracked up really, really hard.

"Some mornings it's just not worth the effort to chew through the leather straps..."

Re: Shades of Grey
Posted by: SkidMarks (---.manc.cable.ntl.com)
Date: June 13, 2010 03:47PM


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