Self Insert

Achromatopsia

Examining trends in fanfiction.

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This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #89. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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The world is shades of gray, punctuated by the crisp black of shadows and the over exposed spots of white in sunlit clearings. The sky is not blue. The grass is not green. But it’s all right: the stories say that when you meet your soulmate for the first time, color will bleed into your life.

This trope doesn’t have a clear name. For all intents and purposes, every person in the universe has achromatopsia, an extremely rare form of colorblindness where the world is rendered in black and white. Like an old TV set or black and white nudes buried in a grandparents hat box. If you’re looking for it on fanfiction forums, your best bet is to search for “colorblindness” and its intersection with “soulmates au.” “When you meet your soulmate you see in color,” the prompts read. Like many of the soulmate alternative universe tropes, it’s a trope usually used for angst. The person only realizes that they have been seeing color their whole life when it is lost by an accident. They are an assassin who first sees their soulmate through a scope. They gain sight with a forbidden love only to lose them in the war.

It seems to have been born out of Western fanfiction, early incarnations popping up in 2014-15 in the X-Men First Class and Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes fandoms, but prompts from that era often call to mind other, earlier pieces, earlier prompts that are lost in the Internet aether.

These pieces are often gray canvases suddenly spattered in bright pigment. A sudden impression of a green tree. The deep richness of red blood. Just how blue the sky is. A reminder that love itself often makes you view the world in a different way than before.

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Amanda Hudgins is an occasional writer, former rugby player and wearer of incredibly tall shoes.

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