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"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."
Discworld

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. 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.

Attempts to describe the Fictional Color will often result in Purple Prose.

The Parody Sue sometimes has eyes of this color.

Examples of Fictional Colour include:


Anime and Manga


Fan Works

  • 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.


Literature

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy describes a shade of blue that is sentient.
  • The octarine color in Discworld, 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.
  • 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.
  • Also in Sunshine by Robin McKinley, the Big Bad's eyes are some unknown, impossible color, because what color is evil?
  • In Good Omens, there was a mention of infra-black, that was the color that flashed before your eyes when you've just run into a wall head-first, right before you died.
  • 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.

  • H.P. 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.)


New Media


Radio

  • 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 imaginary[2] colour "battleship mauve" is also frequently mentioned.


Tabletop RPG

  • Call of Cthulhu
    • The Colour Out Of Space (based on the H.P. 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.
  • Role Master 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."


Video Games

  • 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).


Web Comics

  • In Bob and George, Bass claims to see lots of new colors when his eyes are upgraded to see a wider range of EM frequencies.


Western Animation

  • Futurama
    • 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?

Fry: Yeah.

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.


Real Life

Notes

  1. "Color of the Emperors"
  2. (maybe)
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