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It's a bad old time for Humanity in general. The human Empire is presided over by Empress Lionstone, aka the Iron Bitch, a ruler who makes Josef Stalin look like Gandhi. Everywhere in the Empire, rebellions are popping up and popping heads as fast as one can blink, and are slaughtered with utmost efficiency. Espers, clones, degenerates, and slaves are ubiquitous, treated as third-class citizens when they're not being tortured, experimented on, or simply shot. And, for once in the Empire's history, nobody is truly safe - be it noble, commoner, or servant.That's not the worst of it, though. From the borders of the Empire, a number of threats have arisen: a group of formerly subservient AIs which broke free of their programming and formed the planet Shub, driven to exterminate their old masters; the Sleepers, a group of aliens genetically engineered as weapons, intended to destroy all in their path... and other horrors from beyond the Darkvoid, a multiple-light-year-wide sphere of death which the Empire created hundreds of years ago. Oh, and that's still nothing compared to the court intrigues, only kept at bay by the terror the Empress bestows upon her subjects.The eight-book Deathstalker series, written by Simon R. Green, drops the reader right into the midst of this, beginning with the outlawing of one Owen Deathstalker, an aristocratic historian who just wanted to relax in comfort on his idyllic, pastoral homeworld. That changes fast, and he's forced to take up arms with the smuggler Hazel D'Ark, the bounty hunter Ruby Journey, the hero of the rebellion Jack Random, and the former Hadenman Tobias Moon... as well as a host of other unsavory characters, all of whom are out for themselves as much as anything.In short, the Deathstalker series is a Fantasy Kitchen SinkSpace Opera, soft as warm butter on the Mohs scale, and is sliced up into hundred- or two-hundred-page sections which could generally stand as stories on their own right. One can expect quite a lot of HSQ and similar moments when explaining any given segment, particularly as one reads further on. Finally, outside of the series itself, there are a handful of other stories written by Simon R. Green in the same universe, including the compilation Twilight of the Empire.
Body Horror: Shub does this to some folks. ... well, okay, everyone they find. Also, Half-A-Man.
Simon Green seems to really like this trope. Wormboy, a giant tub of goo which literally fills an auditorium, the Maids, young girls converted into mindless cybernetic monsters, marines in the Madness Maze, hell, even the Empress gets her moment of this.
Bury Your Gays / Hide Your Lesbians: Averted in one case, with the Stevie Blues; played straight as an arrow in another case, with David Deathstalker and Kit Summerisle.
Chekhov's Gag: Multiple occasions, at least one appears between the books, Deathstalker: Return and Deathstalker: Coda. In Return, Lewis Deathstalker discusses parties of jaded big game hunters going to Shandra-kor to hunt the monsters there. After ten hunts, the only thing that came back was a note saying, "Send more hunters." In Coda, said monsters agree to aid Lewis in his rebellion and are riding in a cargo bay of Lewis's star cruiser during a "Pure Humanity" loyalist mutiny. The loyalists go to the cargo bay to cleanse the "abominations," the monsters tear the loyalists apart and eat them. One monster sends up a com-request to the bridge to "Send more loyalists." This could be a Brick Joke if you didn't find the idea of big game hunters being eaten funny.
Cool, but Inefficient: Disruptor cannons can fire through most armor - once, every two minutes. Beyond that, swords come into play. The only reason projectile weapons aren't still around is because they were systematically banned.
Disruptor weapons get a little better in the last three books. It just takes 30 sec. to recharge. Just long enough to get run though if you miss, or fighting more than one enemy and have only one gun. which lead to Badass Bandolier.
This is also interesting because it seems that disruptor weapons were systematically nerfed when projectile weapons were banned because Owen discovers that in the past (i.e. in the "fallen" first empire), energy weapons could fire without pause.
Cool Old Guy: Jack Random. Thanks to the Madness Maze, he gets younger as the books go on. But he stays cool.
A drug dealer/chemist in the later books is exposed to the Madness Maze, he starts producing drugs that cause specific effects, like killing off the left, or right, side of the body leaving the user as a half-dead junkie, and thats not even the limit of Doctor Happy...
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In the first chapter of the book, we have gravity sleds, assassin concubines, Turing-class AIs, massive starships, hyperspace-compatible yachts, regeneration machines, organ smugglers, and a corrupt empire. It gets more convoluted from there.
Genius Loci: the Red Brain: a giant, sentient forest, that may or may not be an entire planet. There is also another, literal living planet, and then at least one other world that was effectively a Genius Locus after a Big Gray Goo scenario. The A Is of Shub may also count, being three sentient computers the size of a planet.
Outlaw Town: Mistworld, an entire planet populated by thieves and political fugitives, left more or less to kill and prey on each other in peace since the empire found an orbital blockade cheaper than the effort required to clean the place up or even nuke it from orbit.
Almost annoyingly present in the later books and backstory when it comes to the Terror. The terror "ate" an entire galaxy traveling at slower than light speed. Fine . . . Problem is that those being eaten could move faster than light. Solution: Move your freaking population about . . . 1000 light years ahead of the terror, chill for 900 years, repeat. Terror starves to death chasing you. Next issue: Terror arrives in Empire, eats a star system, everyone else freaks out. Problem is that the empire is literally thousands of light years across and has ultra-FTL capabilities. It would be literally a thousand years before the Terror could even reach the inner systems which have more than marginal populations. Similar solution to that above in that you could just shift populations from system to system every . . . 40 or so years and the Terror would eventually starve, give up, or . . . well, go FTL out of desperation. Oh, on a more practical note, the Terror goes through three habitable star systems in something like two years or so. I think the travel time for one trip was like six months. At light speed, six months would not even get you out of the Ort cloud of our solar system, much less the 4 light years to the nearest star or the 20 or so to the THEORETICAL closest star that MIGHT have a planet that could support life. Of course, this may also be an example of Fridge Logic.
Touched by Vorlons: The people who went through the Madness Maze; and to a lesser extent (they already had powers), the espers touched by the Mater Mundi.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Silence and Frost, cut short by Frost's death. To be fair, Silence admitted that even if Frost lived, their relationship would always be in this state, since Frost is an investigator.