Red Side Story

Red Side Story

by Jasper Fforde
Red Side Story

Red Side Story

by Jasper Fforde


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The long-awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Grey—in an EXCLUSIVE EDITION for North American readers, complete with a never-before-published short story

“Fforde's books are more than an ingenious idea. They are written with buoyant zest and are tautly plotted . . . and are embellished with the rich details of a Dickens or Pratchett.” —The Independent

Welcome to Chromatacia, where life is strictly regulated by one’s limited color perception. Civilization has been rebuilt after an unspoken “Something that Happened” five hundred years before. Society is now color vision–segregated, everything dictated by an individual’s visual ability, and governed by the shadowy National Color in far-off Emerald City.
Twenty-year-old Eddie Russett, a Red, is about to go on trial for a murder he didn’t commit, and he’s pretty certain to be sent on a one-way trip to the Green Room for execution by soporific color exposure. Meanwhile, he’s engaged in an illegal relationship with his co-defendant, a Green, the charismatic and unpredictable Jane Grey. Negotiating the narrow boundaries of the Rules within their society, they search for a loophole—some truth of their world that has been hidden from its hyper-policed citizens.
New York Times bestselling author Jasper Fforde returns to his fan-favorite Shades of Grey series with this wildly anticipated, laugh-out-loud funny and darkly satirical adventure about two star-crossed lovers on a quest to survive—even if it means upending their entire society in the process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641296281
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/07/2024
Series: Shades of Grey Series , #2
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 8,444
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Jasper Fforde spent twenty years in the film business before debuting on the New York Times bestseller list with The Eyre Affair in 2001. Since then he has written another fifteen novels, including The Big Over Easy, The Constant Rabbit, and Shades of Grey. Fforde lives and works in his adopted nation of Wales. Visit Jasper’s website,, find him on Facebook at Jasper Fforde Writer, and follow him on X, Threads or Instagram @jasperfforde.


Brecon, Powys, Wales, United Kingdom

Date of Birth:

January 11, 1961

Place of Birth:

London, United Kingdom


Left school at 18

Read an Excerpt

Welcome to East Carmine The name of the Collective shall be Chromatacia; it shall be divided into four Sectors known as Red, Green, Yellow and Blue; each Sector shall be subdivided further into areas known as North, South, East and West. An administrative centre will be located in each Sector, and each area. For specific definitions see sub-note
      —From Munsell’s Book of Harmony

My name is Eddie Russett, but only for another two hours and nine minutes. After my negotiated marriage to Violet I will take on the prestigiously dynastic surname of deMauve, but within twenty-seven hours I find out that I was not Eddie Russett at all, but a subject termed HE-315-PJ7A-M. Three days after momentarily becoming Russett again I reluctantly take on the name of Mr. Hollyberry before quickly reverting to deMauve, but less than forty-eight hours after that I decide to dispense with a colour-based name entirely.
     There is jeopardy, too: Jane and I almost catch the Mildew, a group of Yellows try to kill us and the ever-present Green Room beckons us towards its soporifically deadly charms. We also meet a Tin Man, a Riffraff and have an encounter with an Angel sent by our very own Creator, who then tries to kill us—three times.
     But it’s not all bad. At least Jane and I get to figure out the riddle of existence. Not the riddle, I should add, just ours, and we also learn there is a literal truth to the adage that you can’t go home. And that’s a problem. We’re free and healthy and ready to live full and complete lives together, away from the Colourtocracy for good. That should be a cause for celebration, but it isn’t: we wanted to improve our world, not abandon it. You’ll be joining us there shortly, looking around our new home, sharing in our wonder, but for now:
The 13:42 train pulled into the station with a punctuality that was within time parameters, but outside geographical ones. That is to say the train was on time, but the station was in the wrong place. There were strict Rules against non-punctuality, but nothing against the erroneous siting of a station. Such loopholery allowed us to maintain adherence to the strict Rules governing our society but still maintain a workable practicality.
     The locomotive hissed in the warm air as the train rocked to a standstill, the gyros a soft melodious whirr as they kept the machine upright on its single rail. There were trains every other day—one in the morning, one in the afternoon—and their arrival was always an event: the quiet stasis of the village interrupted by arrivals, departures, post, news, freight and supplies.
     The freight dispatcher moved to the far end of the platform to supervise the Greys as they swapped raw materials for finished rolls of linoleum, while the postman took the sack of mail and quickly departed. True to form, the stationmaster argued in a half-hearted manner with the train-driver about punctuality. I exchanged glances with the Arrivals Monitor, a dazzlingly unpleasant Yellow named Bunty McMustard. She was a few years older than me, had a small nose much akin to a button of understated ordinariness and insisted on wearing the Standard Casual Girls #16, which was less of a dress and more of a bell tent. No one else wore one, not even ironically.
     “None of your nonsense as we greet the visitors, Russett,” she growled. “The council told me to report any infractions with extreme prejudice.”
     “You mean you get to exaggerate any potential misdemeanour?”
     “In one—so watch it.”
     She meant it, too. Yellows took to their enforcement duties as a squarial takes to split pins and washers. Anything I could be demerited for, she’d get a cut. A Yellow who had amassed a large amount of merits had most likely done so not by worthy civil duty, but by snitching.
     “You do your thing,” I said, “and I’ll do mine. Is your bow straight?”
     Bunty quickly looked at her reflection in the train window. Her regulation-sized hair adornment was, of course, regulation straight. Yellows often used protractors on the hair bows of girls they considered sub-optimally attired, and if it was beyond three degrees plus or minus, it was five demerits. Tie knots for boys were the same, but type of knot, neatness and overly artistic interpretation added to the potential demerits. Woe betide anyone with an untucked shirt, poorly executed creases or socks not fully pulled up.
     “My bow is perfect,” she said, shooting me an annoyed glance, “as always. And you are wrong—as always. The sooner you are removed from this village, the better it will be for the rest of us.”
     “Did you ever think of starting up your very own charm school, Bunts?”
     “There is no such thing as a charm school, Mr. Russett, so your comment is as banal as it is pointless. And don’t call me ‘Bunts.’ That is reserved only for my closest and dearest friends.”
     “So no one ever uses it, right?”
     Now that we had needled one another to our satisfaction, we stepped forward to greet the passengers.
     The first to alight were a troupe of travelling players, all of whom wore Orange spot-badges on the lapels or blouses of their regulation Travel Casual #6s. They were lively and irreverent as players generally were, and I welcomed them to East Carmine while Bunty copied down their names and details on to the arrivals manifest. Quite why, no one knew: the manifests were diligently logged, filed, then recycled into blank arrivals manifest forms eight years later. The Rules demanded it. The Rules demanded a lot.
     “We welcome your welcome and give thanks for your thanks,” said the leader of the troupe, making a dramatic flourish to me, Bunty, then in the direction of the Grey Porters. “We are the Tangerine Players, and the Tangerine Players are us: famed all over Chromatacia for our bravado and spectrally compliant performances. A laugh, a tear, a smile—and after observing our lively frolics your resolve at the strength, brilliance and indivisible oneness of the Chromatic harmony will be for ever cemented. Apart We Are Together, but only together can we properly embrace that apartness.”
     “Well spoken,” said Bunty, who was always eager to praise those who exhibited an unwavering support of the Colourtocracy.
     “Thank you,” said the Troupe Leader, eyeing Bunty’s Yellow spot-badge and the 5,000-merit badge underneath. It told her Bunty was foremost a Yellow, and secondly, quite good at it. As the enforcers of the Rules, Yellows were universally loathed within the Collective. Some said it was a coincidence, but accidental face-down drownings in swamps were three times more likely if you were a Yellow.
     The Troupe Leader stared at me for a moment then said:
     “Haven’t we met before?”
     I knew instantly who she was, as I rarely, if ever, forget an interesting nose: small and snub, like a child’s. It was as though her nose had ceased development at age nine, and her adult body had simply grown up around it.
     “Jade-under-Lime,” I said, “three years ago.”
     I had helped set up the stage and had been allocated the job of prop master: stagehands were always picked from the village to assist, along with any bit parts, usually from the Amateur Dramatic Society. My good friend Fenton had a walk-on part with two lines and told everyone who would listen he was going to be an actor, but without any yellow in his vision he was not going to be an Orange, so acting was never going to be open to him.
     “I recall Jade as a very appreciative audience if a little inclined towards the cough,” she said, “but sited in pleasant enough countryside.”
     She looked around at East Carmine’s lugubrious surroundings as she said it. The landscape was hot and dusty, the grass dead in the summer heat, the railway station tired and worn and without hue as we had next to no synthetic colour in the village. High colourisation, usually delivered by colour feed-pipes, was for the wealthy and connected, generally those within the periphery of Emerald City, the nation’s capital.
     “It’s been a hot summer out here in the Fringes,” I said by way of apology. “Without regular night rain I daresay we’d have none at all.”
     I should have been happier living here in Red Sector West with people of my own hue, but there was a downside: the Rules ensured that anyone remotely troublesome was shuffled to the periphery of the Collective where they would be less influential. It made the Fringes more loaded with those of difficult disposition, which made life more challenging—but probably a good deal more interesting.
     “Anything further out?” asked the Troupe Leader, indicating the hills to the west.
     “We’re right on the edge of the known world,” I said, following her gaze. “There’s nothing beyond here except wild rhododendron, megafauna, ball lightning, Riffraff and peril.”
     “The Red Side of the nation,” she mused. “What did you do to be transferred out here? I’d say life was easier and more colourful in Jade-under-Lime.”
     “I was accompanying my father,” I replied defensively, “who is now the village Swatchman.”
     In truth, I had been sent out here to conduct a chair census—the sort of pointless task usually reserved for those who have shown a level of innovation, curiosity or independence of thought that wasn’t quite enough to send them to a re-education facility commonly known as “Reboot.” My innovation was nothing seditious: simply a more efficient method of queuing. The Prefects didn’t like the idea much, but I can happily report that my “take a number and you’ll be called in turn” system has been adopted here in East Carmine and is something of which I think I can be justly proud.
     “I see,” said the Troupe Leader, who was only making small talk while Bunty over-diligently filled out the arrivals forms. “Any idea when the last troupe of travelling players passed through?”
     “Twelve years ago.”
     The Tangerine Players all nodded and appeared relieved. There were only eight three-act plays, twelve one-act plays and forty-six educational vignettes permitted to be performed, and constant repetition to audiences only ever diluted the interest and applause.
     Once Bunty was done with the manifest, I directed them to the Model T Ford which was waiting outside the station building. Our Janitor, Carlos Fandango, was already in the driver’s seat, ready and waiting.
     “We have a grass-banked auditorium,” I told them. “Mr. Turquoise, the Blue Prefect, will meet you in the main square to show you around.”
     The players walked off down the platform towards the waiting car, talking and chatting in an enthusiastic manner that, had they been anyone else, would be demeritable on volume and frivolousness.
     The next few passengers were more run-of-the-mill: a naturalist from Green Sector here to study bouncing goat, two Greys who would be sharpening the millstones, then the Sector co-ordinator for the Jollity Fair games, who was here to give a final talk before the Fair commenced.
     “I hope your Penny-Farthing riders have got their act together,” he said anxiously. “Red Sector needs to win this year more than ever.”
     “They have been practising most diligently,” said Bunty. “I saw to it myself.”
     “Good show. Apart We Are Together.”
     The overused salutation had become little more than a murmur, its meaning lost to repetition and now merely word-grease to lubricate the wheels of social engagement. It was so oft repeated that no one even stopped to think about questioning it. When you did, people died.

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