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Literature / Shades of Grey

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Apart We Are Together.

A Science Fiction literary series, created by Jasper Fforde.

Over seven hundred years into the future, following a vague Something That Happened, the country of Chromatacia lies where Britain does today. The human race has transformed into an androgynous-looking race of people with very small pupils that can see one and only one color, all others appearing as shades of grey. Your social standing depends entirely on the one color you can see; those who see purple belong in the aristocracy, whereas those who see red are the working class. Achromatics, or "Greys", cannot see any color at all, and thus they're little more than slaves. These humans share the world with many species of giant, mutant creatures, including killer trees. Most oddly, every living creature has a barcode pattern growing naturally somewhere on their bodies. The entire country is run in the manner of a British boarding school, to the point where a person's worth is measured on how many merits they have.

Our protagonist is Eddie Russett, a young man and member of the House of Red. As punishment for having humiliated a prefect's son, he is banished to the village of East Carmine for a month of menial labor, along with his father, who is sent to replace the village's recently-deceased medical practitioner. After making himself at home and meeting the quirky locals, he falls head-over-heels for a feisty Achromatic named Jane, whose violent temper is as rare in Chromatacia as is the shape of her nose. Smitten, Eddie begins to stalk her, and in doing so he accidentally stumbles on an incredible secret, one that will rock their world to its foundation. Together, for better or worse, Eddie and Jane become the seeds of a revolution...

The first book, Shades of Grey, released in 2009. After fourteen years, its sequel, Red Side Story released in February of 2024.

Not to be confused with the Webcomic or Interactive Fiction of the same name. Also, avoid confusing it with the BDSM novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Violet deMauve, first for Doug, then for Eddie. Atypically for this trope, Violet is attractive and very rich. Her personality is really that unpleasant.
  • After the End: The books is set an unspecified amount of time after Something That Happened; it's never made clear exactly what happened — nobody in Chromatacia has the mental acuity to wonder about it — but it evidently destroyed or at least displaced our own future civilization and left behind a world scattered with ruins, self-sustaining semi-organic roads, carnivorous plants, and a variety of weird animals.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Several Chromatacian animals are very brightly colored, making them easily spottable by people with the appropriate color perception. Ratfinks and bouncing goats are vivid green, and squarriels bold red. Three rare animal species — the techniparrot, the purple frog and the clapping tree lobster — are unusual in being "univisual", meaning they have all primary and secondary colors somewhere on their bodies and can thus be perceived in color by everyone.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The citizens of Chromatacia are implied to be this, including Eddie, at least when compared to the Previous (us).
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The latest known date for the Previous is 2296, and it was found on a receipt for cheese of all things. It's been exactly 496 years since the Previous vanished, but nobody knows what year of their calendar they vanished in. Baxter manages to calculate that the year is 2803 in the second book.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • The citizens of the Collective are certainly humanoid and refer to themselves as being of the Homo genus, but they can only see one color at a time (if that), can be treated with color-based medicine, can have fingers easily reattached, have barcodes under their fingernails, and lack night vision because their pupils don't dilate. Or at least, most of them don't. Combined with the fact that most of the wildlife in Chromatica is gigantic or some kind of hybrid, and it's not hard to extrapolate that the Chromaticans are somehow genetically modified. Red Side Story confirms that they have been genetically engineered by an entity calling itself Utopia, Inc in order to act as space explorers.
    • Before Jasper Fforde himself Jossedinvoked the idea, a prevailing theory was that Chromaticans were actually Ridiculously Human Robots, in no small part due to the fact that they have an inordinate fear of lightning.
    • The Apocryphal Man was specifically designed not to age, and doesn't consider himself human as a result.
  • Author Appeal: The reason barcodes are incorporated into every living being in the setting is because Fforde is fascinated with them.
  • Arranged Marriage: Eddie to Constance Oxblood, then to Violet deMauve.
  • The Bard on Board: In the second book, Eddie sees a play titled The Tragedy of the Chromatically Non-compliant and Clearly Idiotic Romeo and Juliet, which has been twisted into propaganda about how complimentary colors shouldn't mix. The Tangerine Players have access to the unedited version, with Eddie agrees is much better.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: A variation. After Eddie buries the Fallen 'Man', Jacqueline Hanson, he accidentally activates a tracking device that ends up leading another member of the Previous— who turns out to be her husband— to them. While he tries to kill Eddie and Jane because They Know Too Much, he's willing to answer some questions about their nature, because Eddie gave him back his wife's ring and buried her respectfully, and they're going to be dead anyway soon. Thankfully, the Mildew doesn't take.
    • Later on, someone does Eddie a great kindness and asks him to "pay it on and sooner rather than later". A dirty, diseased beggar at Jollity Fair asks Eddie for help, and he initially throws her money to go away. When he goes back to her, talks to her as a fellow human and agrees to help her, she sees that he is of honourable intent, and leads him to what he has been trying to find all along.
  • Berserk Button: Don't talk about Jane's nose. Call it retrousse and you die.
  • Black Dot Pupils: Non-animated example; Chromaticans seemingly don't have have irises, meaning that their pupils can't dilate, so the concept of seeing in the dark is alien to them. However, this isn't a universal trait; some Chromaticans do have pupils that dilate, and with the exception of Jane, they work for head office as a kill squad.
  • Bilingual Bonus: People who know Welsh will be able to figure out that the perpetualite road that runs up to East Carmine used to be the A470 motorway, a central road in Wales.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Eddie is going to be Red prefect and has a chance of getting into National Color, but he and Jane can't get married because she's certified as Green, so he has to marry Violet and poor Dorian and Imogen got sent to High Saffron, where they will probably die horrible deaths.
    • Even more so for Red Side Story. Eddie and Jane have successfully escaped Chromatacia and are now free citizens, but at a terrible cost: East Carmine and Purple Regis were burned to the ground in drone attacks with only a handful of survivors, and You Can't Go Home Again. What's more, Eddie and Jane have just learned that it was always possible for them to have full colour vision by simply viewing a particular hue. "Everything that we had ever experienced, our expectations, our aspirations, our order in society - all predicated on a massive lie."
  • Break the Haughty: Violet deMauve. At the beginning of Shades of Grey, Violet is the wealthy and privileged daughter of East Carmine's Head Prefect. By the end of Red Side Story she is a penniless refugee who has just seen her entire extended family killed in a drone strike, and she is shortly to become a single mother.
  • Brown Note: Certain colours can trigger physical reactions in the inhabitants of Chromatacia. The main job of a swatchman (read: doctor) is to show people certain swatches of colour to get an appropriate physical reaction.
    • Two of the most prominent examples given in the story are Redlax, which (as the name suggests) is a laxative, and Lincoln, which is essentially a hallucinogenic drug.
    • A particular shade of greeny-red (Jane calls it "greed") triggers The Rot/ Mildew, which eventually leads to a swift and unpleasant death.
  • Chekhov's Gun: As noted elsewhere, each chapter begins with a quote from what are presumably the rules of Munsell. Most of them don't appear to have any greater significance, but one of the earlier chapters foreshadows part of the ending, namely Jane and Eddie being incompatible because they are complementary colours.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Chromatacia's entire social structure is set up on a color basis; because Purple Is Powerful, those who can see Purple are at the top of the pecking order. Certain professions are restricted by what color you can see; Greens work in retail, only Blues can be violin-makers, only Oranges can be actors, and Yellows seem to fill jobs that would be equivalent to policing.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: What color people can see defines their social standing; Purples command the most respect. Wealthy people may choose to artificially dye their clothes so all can see it — a practice which the main character calls "a proudfully expensive and tastelessly ostentatious display."
  • Crapsack World: Chromatica is a post-apocalyptic dystopian society with a caste system based solely on what colors you can see and nothing else. Part of Munsell's teachings involved the reduction of the number of facts in the world in order to create an incurious and largely dim-witted populace who willingly destroy advanced technology as part of regular "Leapbacks" to the point where everything from telephone networks to riding horses is forbidden. Society is run more like a strict boarding school than anything else, with the leader of the Collective being referred to as "headmaster", while local leaders are called "prefects". The aforementioned Leapbacks have turned this into a Scavenger World, where people attempt to scrounge for colored scrap in order to produce synthetic colors that everyone can see, or else just find mundane items such as spoons or unallocated postal codes. Mundane wildlife such as rabbits are extinct, while massive killer swans and other mutant megafauna roam the Outlands, alongside bizarre phenomena such as ball lightning and Pookas. Chromaticans only know what stars are based on what they remember from stories and photographs taken by accident, since they don't have night vision because their pupils can't dilate.
  • Darwinist Desire: The motive behind Violet's Arranged Marriage to Eddie. The DeMauve line has been drifting closer to Blue for a while now, and they need a strong Red such as Eddie to keep them Purples.
    • Red Side Story introduces the Rainbow Brotherhood, a group of male sex workers trading on their colour vision.
  • Determined Doctor: Eddie's father Holden and his predecessor, Robin Ochre, have never lost anyone to the Mildew. With the reveal that Swatchmen like themselves actually have a hand in causing Mildew outbreaks as a form of execution, Jane says the fact that Eddie's father refuses to do this is a mark of him being a good person.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Chromaticans have no trouble with having their dead broken down for tallow and bonemeal as opposed to being given a proper burial; there's some implication that they actually eat their dead, as one of Dorian's inedible foods is made with bonemeal, though the source isn't specified.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Violet on Eddie. The fact that Eddie's own dad set it up just adds insult to injury.
  • Dystopian Oz: The Wizard of Oz crops up a few times; most notably, the Emerald City is the name of the capital of the Collective.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter in the first book opens with a quote from the rules.
  • Epigraph: In addition to the Encyclopedia Exposita bits, Red Side Story has several excerpts from an account written by "Ted Grey", titled Twenty Years Among the Chromaticans, at the start of several of its chapters.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: East Carmine and later Purple Regis are completely obliterated by drone strikes.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Society in Chromatacia is strictly divided by what colors you can see — people who can't see any are the bottom of the social ladder and basically slaves, Reds are the lowest rung of actual society, Oranges to Greens form the middle class, Blues are generally wealthy and well-off, Purples form the ruling class and the rare Ultraviolets are treated almost as nobility.
  • Fantastic Vermin: Chromatacians have to deal with some fairly unusual pest animals, such as bouncing goats (kangaroo-goat hybrids that frequently bounce over stockwalls to raid farms and gardens) and ripping turtles (turtle-shaped robots built by the Previous to harvest scrap metal, which can and will tear their way into buildings to harvest metallic objects).
  • Fictional Color: The greeny-red color Jane calls "greed" can trigger The Rot/ Mildew, which causes Chromatacians to die within a few minutes of exposure.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jane, as noted by Eddie (who can see a great deal of red).
  • Fingore: A blue girl accidentally chops some of her fingers off early in the book. It's not a big deal, and Holden sews them back on easily — one of the first signs of just how odd the inhabits of Chromatacia are.
  • Future Imperfect:
    • The future people have forgotten a great deal about the past, and for the most part lack the curiosity to wonder about the things they don't know or question their own often mistaken assumptions. Among other things, the origins of most of the relics found in the Outland are lost — several hardy machines are mistaken for unusual animal species — as are most details of Previous life and society. Certain notable Previous are remembered in a distorted manner, such as M'Donna and Chuck Naurice, while the difference between fiction and non-fiction accounts has gotten blurred — the Chromatacians are fairly confident that Oz wasn't a real place, but it took them some time to work that out. Most notably, Albert Munsell, an art teacher from the late 1800s and the inventor of the Munsell color system, is remembered as a messianic figure who supposedly laid down the rules that Chromatacian society slavishly follows (which themselves resemble a boarding school rulebook more than anything else).
    • The only known map of the world outside of Chromatica is a board for RISK, which Chromaticans have interpreted as an acronym, with the colored segments of it being territories of people who can see various hues.
    • When Eddie and Tommo inspect the Fallen Man actually a woman near the start of the second volume, Tommo wonders about their surname, as it's not a color like everyone else in Chromatica.
  • G-Rated Drug: Certain specific colors produce drug-like effects when viewed, and are the subject of illicit trading rings. At one point, Eddie is asked to "accidentally" over-order and "misplace" an extra copy of certain colors that father uses for medical purposes, in a manner very similar of people selling medicines as drugs.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The Rainbow Brotherhood are stand-up guys.
  • How We Got Here: The book starts with Eddie inside a Yateveo. The first 9/10ths of the book are explaining how he ended up in such a pickle.
  • Human Architecture Horror: This trope is the ultimate fate of creatures that die atop (or get stuck in) pavement made of "Perpetulite". Perpetulite absorbs organic material from its surroundings to repair and renew itself, usually in the form of fallen leaves or errant wild giraffes. When Eddie, Jane, and Courtland make it to High Saffron, they see the remains of hundreds of people being dissolved in the floor of a Perpetulite pavilion made of a deadly green-ish redd-ish shade that triggers the Rot.
    "Lying beneath the surface of the Perpetulite, like a drowned man under ice, was a blank face staring back up at me. His mouth was wide open and his hands palms up. His bones were all perfectly visible within the gentle overlay of soft tissue, and even the herringbone pattern of his jacket was discernible. Like the giraffe I had seen outside East Carmine, the indiscriminate organoplastoid had simply absorbed him as if he were nothing more than rainwater or leaf litter. But as I stared at the apparition in the smooth surface, I noticed that another, more fully digested body was just discernible to his left. And beyond that there was another. And another. As I looked around, I saw that the swirling pattern I had assumed was as random as that in linoleum was actually a jumble of semi-digested people, lying in haphazard profusion. The Perpetulite had consumed their tissue, bones, teeth, clothes—and left behind only the indigestible parts, which were simply moved tidily to the side."
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: The Riffraff (or the Digenous, as they call themselves) are implied to be the descendants of unaltered humanity.
  • Informed Ability: Jane turns out to be a Green. Given how much she knows about herself (and assuming it isn't some sort of head office conspiracy implemented by Gloss), there is no way in hell she wouldn't have known or suspected and let Edward know as soon as they began to really draw closer, though she's only just barely a Green (she's rated as having 14% Yellow vision and 12% Blue, with 10% being the cutoff) so it's not impossible that she simply didn't notice.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Red Side Story reveals that, in addition to the manufacture of spoons being forbidden, the manufacture of gloves is mandatory... but they can't ever be worn. This is implied to be due to the fact that wearing gloves covers the barcodes embedded on the nails of each Chromatican, leaving them unable to be subjected to aerial monitoring by Utopia, Inc.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: More like Rediscoverer of the Mundane. Eddie sits on the sharp end of "a spoon or fork or something" which turns out to be a spork. After it's removed, he uses the concept of a spoon-fork hybrid as a valuable bargaining chip, because there is a law against manufacturing spoons and they've become so rare that people engrave their names on theirs and pass them on to their descendants.
  • La RĂ©sistance: In addition to Edward and Jane, the second book shows Lucy Ochre, the Apocryphal Man, and several members of an Orange theatrical troupe as active players in the resistance against Chromatic Hierarchy.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: The book's setting is in a post-'Something That Happened' England where the culture is based around a book of English boarding school rules.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • How a surprising amount of things are accomplished in Chromatacia, really. Stuck between the inviolable rules and the need for certain things to get done (things usually required by other rules), loopholery has become a proud tradition.
    • This is how one of the central conflicts in the book is solved; due to their exclusion on a list of things allowed to be manufactured in the Collective, new spoons can't be made, and now there's a shortage of that particular piece of cutlery. Eddie ends up bringing back something from High Saffron that's not forbidden, and can be mass-produced fairly easily: a spork.
    • Eddie recounts an anecdote in Red Side Story where a woman who murdered her husband with garden shears after he 'stole intimacy without consent' is instead charged with running with scissors, fined fifty merits, and given remedial scissor training. Nobody had a problem with this punishment.
  • Lovable Rogue: Tommo Cinnabar. A snitch, drug addict, and all-around ne'er-do-well with a money fetish, but a charming and likeable one nonetheless.
  • Made of Plasticine: The denizens of Chromatacia lose body parts and break bones with surprising frequency and generally not by what we'd consider sufficient force; a character in the second novel notes that ears in particular are very easily torn off. Often played for laughs.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Chromatacian culture has an extremely strong taboo against complementary-color relationships.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Yateveo, a tentacled tree-sized pitcher plant that can grab and consume creatures as large as a kudu.
  • Meaningful Name: Family names suggest the colors they can see: the Russetts, a Red family; the deMauves, a Purple family; Gamboge, the Yellow prefect; etc. This is an Invoked Trope, and a student even asks at one point why the Previous (that is, human beings before the Something-That-Happened) didn't have these.
  • Meaningful Rename: Since surnames are based on what colors you can see, an Ishihara can result in one of these; for instance, Jane gets the surname Brunswick when it turns out she can see green.
  • MegaCorp: Utopia, Inc., the entity actually responsible for running the Collective.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The wildernesses of the main setting, which takes place where England is today, is home to creatures such as elephants, zebras and kudu antelopes. In this case, it's assumed that whatever the Previous and the Something That Happened did to fill the world with hybrid and altered animals was also responsible for these creatures' presence.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Some of Chromatacia's creatures are hybrids of two or more real-life species, such as ratfinks (rodents with lizard scales and claws), bouncing goats (goat front/top half, kangaroo bottom/hind half) and rhinosauruses (sauropods with rhino heads).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Legends of the Previous, such as M'Donna and Chuck Naurice.
  • Not Himself: Eddie and Jane pass off Courtland's death as misadventure while saving Eddie's life. Most of the townsfolk accept this, but Courtland's mother confronts Eddie in private, saying that she knows perfectly well her son hated Eddie and wouldn't have even done Eddie a minor favor, much less risk his own life on Eddie's behalf. Eddie realizes that he and Jane may have to come up with more convincing cover stories in the future.
  • Only One Name: The Greys don't have surnames, and are instead addressed by their first name and the letter "G" followed by a number; Jane reveals that this is their address.
  • Our Founder: Both East Carmine and High Saffron have a twice-life size statue of Our Munsell in the town square.
  • Phlebotinum: Perpetulite, a material used to build roads. Technically alive, it shifts to push obstacles out of the way and survives by absorbing nutrients from any organic debris that may fall on it, including dead leaves, weeds, roadkill, and people, essentially eliminating the need for any road maintenance. It was developed by the Previous long before the start of the novel, and the technology used to create it has been lost to time.
  • Primal Fear: Basically every citizen of the Collective is afraid of the dark, since they don't have pupils that can dilate, meaning that their night-vision is basically non-existent, to the point where stars are a distant memory. A few Chromaticans that can see in the dark are recruited by Head Office to act as a sort of kill-squad to take people out in the middle of the night. Jane seems to be the sole exception.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Baxter, the Apocryphal man is four hundred and fifty one, but otherwise appears to be a perfectly normal adult man.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Rebooted is implied to be a euphemism for 'intentionally exposed to mildew'.
  • Scannable Man: Barcodes. Every person and every animal has one somewhere on their body.
  • Scavenger World: Several of the tenets of the Collective prevent the manufacturing of new technology, with "Leapbacks" regularly being carried out to destroy anything that could contribute to the advancement of society, ranging from gramophones to children's literature. This has resulted in the citizens of Chromatica scavenging from the ruins of the Previous, even if it does mean they occasionally run into Phookas or yateveos.
  • Secret-Keeper: By the start of Red Side Story, Edward's father trusts him enough that he's open about the fact that National Color want him to execute people with the Mildew.
  • Secret Sex Worker: The Rainbow Brotherhood use pseudonyms, are instructed by the Green Dragon Hotel to stay very discreet, and are not popular back in their home villages.
  • Serious Business:
    • Spoons are a highly valuable commodity in the Collective in part because Munsell's teachings forbid their manufacture, meaning they're a finite resource.
    • Lying is an offence that carries several demerits, especially if you try to profit off of a lie; Eddie lying about seeing the last rabbit loses him six-hundred merits and means he is technically no longer a citizen of the Collective, meaning that he can't marry, among other things.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of Eddie Russett's friends is named Floyd Pinken.
    • Prefect Yewberry warns Eddie and his father about Pookas in Rusty Hill, saying they've appeared here and there, now and then, to this one and that one.
    • When Eddie is Zane's house in Rusty Hill, there's a Remote Viewer (essentially a television) playing 'Raiders of the Lost Ark''.
    • The Oz Memorial and all the works of art. According to the author the Oz Memorial is not actually to the Wizard of Oz, but instead to Frank Oz, with Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear being recognizable figures.
    • Most characters have last names relating to their colors, however grays are only referred to as G-(insert number here). So we end up having Zane the Grey, Jane the Grey, and Dorian the Grey.
    • Subtler than the others, but throughout Eddie refers to the Ishihara, the test all citizens take in order to have their colour perception levels certified. In real life, the Ishihara test is used for a similar purpose - to test colour-blindness, rather than colour-perception.
    • In-universe, Munsell created a society that ranks people based on individual sensitivity to color. In real life, Albert H. Munsell created a classification of colors based on mathematical models of human perception in general.
    • Many parts of the book could be construed as references to The Giver, but perhaps the most obvious one is the discussion of the confusion between "snack" and "smack".
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Eddie and Jane. At first due to different social standing, and the fact she keeps threatening to kill him, later due to him being a very strong Red and her being a very weak Green, and complementary colors must never mate.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • One of the minor characters is a photographer who can only see grey and is called Dorian. Hmmm...
    • In fact, all of the Greys are stealth puns. Unlike other characters, they aren't given last names that are actual color shades, instead being G-17 or G-24 etc. So in addition to Dorian Gray we have Jane Grey, Zane Grey, Earl Grey...
    • Not to mention the love story between Edward and Jane.
  • Stupid Future People: By design. Munsell, whoever he was, instituted a policy of 'De-Facting', progressively destroying advanced technology and literature, or forbidding its use, in an attempt to create a population in stasis, unwilling to progress; any attempt to change the nature of the Collective (even by something as simple as changing the way people queue for dinner) is considered seditious. Only the Apocryphal Man seems to be exempt from this.
  • Take a Number: Eddie sets one up in his father's office; it's in contravention to queuing practices in the Collective, which has the potential to earn him demerits.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe. All humans and most animals in Chromatacia have barcodes, but "Reserve Thirteen to the west of here [in other words, Ireland] uses epidermal QR."
  • Time Skip: About a month passes between the ending of Shades of Grey and the start of Red Side Story.
  • Tsundere: Jane. Very much so.
  • Unperson: Apocryphals would be... if they existed, which they don't.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "You know" (sex) and "thingying" (masturbation).
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Two forms: the Green Room has a shade of green known as "Sweet Dream" that allows people afflicted by the Mildew to have a peaceful death... unless they're green themselves, in which case the shade is ineffective. The second form is the Mildew itself, caused by a "reddish-green" color that is used as a method of execution for those who are problematic to the Collective.
  • When Trees Attack: The Yateveo, a species of carnivorous tree well-known for snatching inattentive hikers with its tentacle-like branches and dumping them in its digestive cavity.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Road To High Saffron has Eddie narrate from within the digestive cavity of a yatevo, a giant carnivorous plant, that Jane apparently shoved him in. She immediately saves him when the narrative catches up; it was a ploy to cover up Courtland's death. Red Side Story has Eddie narrate from the boat where he has just been given asylum from Chromatacia.
  • Wild Wilderness: Chromatacia consists for the most part of wilderness, with townships and their assigned farming land scattered through it and connected by train lines. The land beyond town limits, called the Outland, is trackless wilderness home to megafauna, man-eating trees, and semi-nomadic Riffraff tribes, all of which periodically menace towns. Any given Chromatacian settlement is by definition closer to the Outland than to any other town.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Having left Chromatacia, Eddie, Jane, Violet and Penelope will never be able to go back. They aren't even allowed to communicate with any of the Chromatacians.