aka: Fictional Color
It was octarine, the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself. But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.The Fictional Colour is a color described in a work of fiction that doesn't exist in Real Life, and would be impossible to create or obtain. The Fictional Colour is usually found in Speculative Fiction. It may indicate the presence or influence of magic. Sometimes it can only be seen by certain species or types of people. When not associated with magic, used to give some sort of descriptor to concepts that cannot be expressed by actual colors visible to the human eye, especially when it comes to energy. For example, any sort of infrared or ultraviolet vision changes things to a form we can comprehend. Because of works like The Incredible Hulk have caused gamma energy to be associated with green. In any event, it is almost always confined to non-visual forms of storytelling, for obvious reasons. Strangely enough, attempts to describe the Fictional Color will often result in prose that is very much purple. The Parody Sue sometimes has eyes of this color.
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Anime and Manga
- In Luminosity, Bella is pleasantly surprised that vampires can see in the ultraviolet; later Elspeth is quite disoriented by vampire memories that include that color.
- In The Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth, urple. It's described as a combination of pink and purple in the worst possible way.
- Inspired by this fanwork was another parody, a Pokemon story called "The Official Fanfiction University of Kanto." It features "blorange," which (of course) is blue and orange combined in the same worst possible way.
- The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have documented a large number of impossible colors. Among the ones they've discovered are bismange, blello, hreen, purite bledangle, rolky-mose, smood gred and wilver.
- The Lightbringer Series features, among others mentioned, paryl. The magic system in this fantasy series is based on colours and paryl is invisible to most, extremely hard to draft (do magic with) and very weak, but used by Teia, who, from book two onwards, is a main character. She has to keep it secret as colours other than those of the regular spectrum are considered blasphemic. Information in book description and the author's notes in the appendix suggests that "paryl" light is how Teia sees terahertz radiation.
- The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy describes hooloovoo, a shade of blue that is sentient. As a Shout-Out, this shade appears in Doctor Who, in the episode "The Rings of Akhaten".
- The color octarine, which is the eighth colour that only wizards can see. It is described as being approximately "a sort of fluorescent yellowish-greenish-purple", which may be based on the splashes of afterimage one sees after staring into a bright light.
- There are also different colours of black, mentioned both in Death's garden in Mort and Assassins' Guild uniforms in Pyramids. Usually only visible when darkness is split by an eight sided prism in a strong magical field, you can apparently simulate them by taking something illegal and taking a long look at a starling's wing.
- Good Omens mentions infra-black, which is apparently the color that flashes before your eyes right before you die from a fatal concussion.
- In N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy, in The Broken Kingdoms, the main character is blind, but she can see magic. Since she's not normally sighted, she doesn't know the names of some colors, and makes them up. Regarding the story's Flying Dutchman god-in-human-form, Shiny, Oree calls his eyes "colors I had only heard of in poetry: fire opal. Sunset's cloak. Velvet and desire." Possibly a sort of reddish-yellow. She also makes up the words for the magic of the Eldritch Abomination Big Bad. His power is "sickly, mottled", a shifting combination of many colors as he has stolen the magic of several gods.
- In Sunshine by Robin McKinley the Big Bad's eyes are some unknown, impossible color, because what color is evil?
- In the Book of the New Sun trilogy, there's both fuligin, a color darker than black (described as appearing to be 'a hole in the universe' and reserved for the use of Torturers), and argent (originally meaning "silvery"), a color brighter than white (used solely by The Emperor).
- Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. The Martians discovered two colors outside the visual spectrum, the Eighth Ray (used for propulsion) and Ninth Ray (used to create the breathable Martian atmosphere).
- Carl Sagan, in Broca's Brain, describes his own childhood efforts to imagine a new color:
Burroughs casually comments that on Mars there are two more primary colors than on Earth. I spent many long minutes with my eyes tightly closed, fiercely concentrating on a new primary color. But it would always be a murky brown or a plum.
- HP Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space". When heated in a spectroscope, a meteorite "displayed shining bands unlike any known colours of the normal spectrum". A globule inside the meteorite and vegetation grown in the area where the meteor fell also display the non-spectrum colors. The Colour monster itself is made up of these colors.
- When turning into a bee in Animorphs, Marco describes a color so unbelievably intense humans can't see it, but bee eyes can.
- This may be ultraviolet light, which honeybees can see. They use it to identify which flowers are best for obtaining nectar.
- Ambrose Bierce's story The Damned Thing is about some kind of monster that is of a color that people can't see.
- Dave Gorman, when wanting to write a novel, came up with the idea of a man named Hugh Brown who discovers a new colour. He never actually wrote it, though, due to being a Ridiculous Procrastinator, and ended up going on Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure instead.
- In the Q&A section of his live show, he explained the inherent problem with the idea; that it involved writing about something that didn't exist and couldn't be described.
- In Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Colors Of Space, the substance necessary for interstellar stardrive shows up as this, though only under a light too bright for normal humans to stand.
- In Philip K Dick's VALIS, the main character encounters a pink laser beam, but the exact shade of pink exists outside humanity's view of the light spectrum.
- The Cthulhu Mythos short story "The Feaster from Afar" by Joseph Payne Brennan. The description of the title monster said "...its fixed blazing eyes were of no color ever known on Earth."
- In A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, the star Arcturus has a companion star, Alpain, which shines with two additional colors, ulfire and jale. Or maybe Arcturians can see ulfire and jale; hard to tell, since the hero arrives on the Arcturian planet Tormance transformed into a local humanoid.
- The Space Trilogy: Picking up on the color ideas from Lindsay, C. S. Lewis uses them for his eldila (angels/energy beings). They are normally invisible to humans, but under proper lighting conditions, or if the eldil is trying hard, you will see beams and auras of new colors.
- The Third Policeman, written by Brian O'Nolan under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien. One of the bizarre things the protagonist encounters is a paint of an unknown color that drives those that see it mad.
- Fairest by Gail Carson Levine reveals the heroine's hair to be "htun", a colour only gnomes can see, but which humans see as merely black.
- Nancy Kress's 1978 short story "A Delicate Shade of Kipney" has a group of colonists from Earth stranded on a planet with a greyish, nearly opaque atmosphere. Within two generations, their descendants have given the desaturated colors they see around them names like "kipney" and "tlem".
- In Eleanor Cameron's The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, the eccentric scientist discovered the eponymous world by way of his recently invented infra-green filter. (Yeah, Ms. Cameron kinda played fast and loose with science...) but then she's writing a fantasy about a planet too small to have any atmosphere. She discusses this in her book The Green and Burning Tree.
- At the end of John Boorman's never-produced script for Lord of the Rings, Legolas sees a rainbow and says "Look! Only seven colors. Indeed, the world is failing."
- In The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, one of the Whangdoodle's powers is being able to turn into whatever color he wants. When asked which color is hardest to do, he says "flange," which is all of the colors of the rainbow, all at once. He finds flange surprisingly easy to do once he's no longer the last of the Whangdoodles.
- In the short story "Green Magic" by Jack Vance, a man who's devoted his life to studying black and white magic also knows something about purple magic, then finds out there's a "green magic" cycle. It's a dimension whose residents can see a multitude of colors that don't exist on earth. Two of these colors, rawn and pallow, have magic cycles of their own.
- Frank Belknap Long's Cthulhu Mythos novel The Space Eaters. The narrator and his friend discuss Eldritch Abominations, one property of which is being of a color unknown on Earth.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell faeries have access to a lot of colors most people don't, mostly conceptual ones, and the Gentleman with Thistle-Down Hair notably keeps Lady Pole's finger in a box the color of heartache.
- SCP Foundation
- SCP-558 Strange Contact Lenses. When the red contact lenses are worn and used to view infrared light, the wearer sees it as a distinctly new color that they lack the language to describe properly.
- SCP-616 The Vessel and the Gate. In Interview A the survivor says that when the door opened there was light coming from outside that was a haze of "...colors, but they weren't colors...".
- SCP-712 "The Impossible Colors". SCP-712-a and SCP-712-b are two impossible colors outside the visible spectrum created by a complicated piece of apparatus. Viewing them can cause migraines and/or grand mal seizures.
- The first series episode Madness is a Strange Colour of The BBC Radio Four sitcom Nebulous features the newly discovered colour "garrow", which drives people insane. It's described as "a sort of yellowy-black, but with more of a pinky-green feel". The imaginarynote colour "battleship mauve" is also frequently mentioned.
- On the Edge, the radio show hosted by Negativland member Don Joyce, once featured a show where cultural reviewer Crosley Bendix (played by Joyce) discussed the color squant at length. It's the fourth primary color, and it even has its own scent.
- Call of Cthulhu
- The Colour Out Of Space (based on the HP Lovecraft story) is an Energy Being made up of colors outside the known spectrum.
- Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "The City Without A Name". The Scepter of Iram has a gem of a color not of our spectrum.
- Masks of Nyarlathotep, Shanghai section. Sir Aubrey's rocket is made of an alien metal that gleams with sickening alien colors.
- Rolemaster campaign setting Shadow World. When creatures of the Void cast spells, it creates a rainbow of impossible colors.
- Polaris. The dawn's first appearance is described in the gamebook: "Light coming up from the edge of the sky, colors redder than stars, new shades that had never been seen, yellow and green and golden through the icicle walls, burning out the stars from the sky, brilliant and impossible and beautiful and alien."
- Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting. The planet Carcosa has three additional colors: ulfire, jale and dolm. Ulfire is "wild and painful", jale is "dreamlike, feverish and voluptuous". Dolm has the same relationship to jale as green has to red: it's a mixture of ulfire and blue.
- In one of the Icecrown missions in World of Warcraft, a gnome technician gives you a pair of "infra-green" goggles so you can find their secret base on one of the citadel's spires. This might be a Shout-Out to the TV show The Green Hornet, whose car the Black Beauty has infra-green headlights (although those technically used polarized light).
- When learning about dyes in WildStar, you help a Protostar representative retrieve an order of "Plurbinum" dye, a copyrighted color developed by their Mega Corp..
- In Fallen London, there's a whole spectrum of them. There is Irrigo, the unremembered color, which causes people to forget things the longer they are exposed to it. There is also Violant, described as the color of necessary but troublesome connections; Apocyan, the blue of memory; Cosmogone, the color of remembered sunlight; Peligin, the color of the deepest zee. And then there's Gant, which remains when all other colors are gone.
- There is mention of a color called Blurple.
- Fry's description of an amazing, indescribable thing he saw that day at the beginning of "I Dated A Robot":
Fry: I just saw something incredibly cool. A big floating ball that lit up with every color of the rainbow, plus some new ones that were so beautiful I fell to my knees and cried.
Amy: Was it out in front of Discount Shoe Outlet?
Amy: They have a college kid wear that to attract customers.
- In the episode "Reincarnation", an exploding comet creates a rainbow with an extra color never seen before. However, since that particular segment was Deliberately Monochrome, that new color just looks gray to the audience.
- As reported in Scientific American and the other wiki citing Science, through various bits of optical illusion type gimmickery, people can see and recognize a Fictional Colour - two, in fact: the color that is a blend of blue and yellow that is not green, and the color that is a blend of green and red that is not ick brown.
- It is possible for many animals and even some humans to see ultra-violet light. In the case of humans, this typically occurs if the lens of your eye is lost or replaced; it ordinarily absorbs UV light, but those who have had their lenses removed can see a short distance into the UV spectrum. This is less exciting than it sounds in the case of humans, because it is picked up by our ordinary rods and cones; the light appears as a washed-out violet.
- This ability was used in WW2 by American and British forces as a desirable attribute in reconnaissance troops and Intelligence analysts. It was noticed that those few people who can see further into the UV could distinguish between natural foliage and the artificial variety manufactured as camouflage cloth/strips, which could be indistinguishable to normal human eyes. Therefore a recce scout spotting un-natural greens would know he was observing a camouflaged tank or emplacements.
- Similarly, some animals have four color cones, as do some humans (see below).
- Being a combination of colors on two opposite ends of the light spectrum, the color magenta doesn't actually exist. It is what happens when your eyes detect both red and violet light, and your brain mashes them together.
- There are multiple alleles for the various color receptor genes in the human eye; some humans have two alleles for the same colors, and thus end up with a pair of close but not identical color receptors in their eyes. They are tetrachromats, but exactly how their vision differs from a normal person's is still being investigated - they do not see a whole new world of colors, but there is some evidence that they may be slightly better at distinguishing colors from each other.