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The Colors of Space

The Colors of Space - Marion Zimmer Bradley I love when I find little novella gems like this one. With a book that’s only about 100 pages long, I worry that I’m giving away the entire story by telling the basic plot, so I’ll have to be careful. The setting is a future when we’ve encountered another intelligent race in the universe, and they’ve shared some (but not all) of their space travel secrets with us. It’s that one little secret that the Lhari refuse to share with us (and one small lie) that allows them to have the monopoly on warp-speed space travel. Our hero, Bart, is flung headlong, unwillingly, and without choice into an adventure whose main goal is to uncover the secrets and lies of the Lhari. Along the way, he finds an 8th color and a more civilized race than he originally expected.

I feel as if I’m leaving out so much about what I love in this book by trying to tiptoe around some of the major plot points: the disguises, the relationships, and the social hierarchy between the races. But one interesting point that I won’t leave out is that the Lhari are color-blind in the sense that everything that they see is monochromatic. This means that they cannot see the beauty of space in the brilliancy of color that humans can. Identification of bodies in outer space can never be made by color without the use of a spectrometer. And what a pity. There’s one scene in this book that I love in which Bart is watching the beautiful colors of space pass by and lamenting that his Lhari friend cannot appreciate it with him. It brought to mind the beautiful scenes of warp-speed space travel from the television series Stargate Universe.

A search for an item which is an 8th color that Bart has never seen before plays a large part of the plot of the book. For what it's worth, my earliest memory is wondering why the world wasn't as brilliant as I'd expected and asking myself: "Where are all the other colors?" I don't know where I got the idea we didn't have enough colors in the world, but I still do sometimes wish there were more ... or that our eyes were able to see more of the color spectrum such as ultraviolet like some birds & insects can. i09 has an interesting article about hypothetical colors and impossible colors. Apparently, though, some humans with aphakia can see ultraviolet light. But I'd not want to have to have cataract surgery to aquire such an ability. And I would doubt that a normal human would be able to see an 8th color without the genetic disposition of tolerating brighter light than normal as Bart has. But it doesn’t seem that the 8th color is ultraviolet or he would have certainly encountered it on earth before.

I’ve written so many words for such a short book, but I felt that I had to. I only wish that the author had other books that looked interesting to me (she tends to write fantasy instead of sci-fi, and I tend to like sci-fi far more than fantasy). However, I keep encountering mention of the “Darkover” series and am curious enough to have downloaded the first novella of the series ([b:The Planet Savers|11447834|The Planet Savers|Marion Zimmer Bradley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327993179s/11447834.jpg|16339736]) since it was free. I fear that it may be a gateway drug to a different genre. We shall see.

Anyway, do yourself a favor and get a free e-copy of this book to keep around to read when you’re in the mood for a sci-fi space-travel novella.