Jasper Fforde

For Seattle fantasy readers, English author Jasper Fforde is always a welcome visitor. His whimsical works, including Thursday Next, aren’t exactly sci-fi, aren’t exactly fantasy, and Shades of Grey (Viking, $25.95) is very much a book about blurred boundaries. In its soft-Orwellian future, the world is organized chromatically into clans. Depending on what part of the color spectrum you can perceive, so you are ranked in a strict social hierarchy. You daren’t marry or move out of your group; some are rulers and some are ruled. Whether read as an allegory of feudalism, the English class system, religious sects, or ethnic castes, Shades is also a tale of star-crossed lovers: Fforde’s young hero is a Red expected to marry within his color denomination. But naturally he falls for a girl on the other side of the color wheel; worse, she rejects the rigid distinctions of colors and class. She’s a rebel, possibly an anarchist, and dangerously alluring for that reason. And her color? Grey. T. BOND

Fri., Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m., 2010

 
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