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Literature: Temps
Temps is a 1991 Shared Universe anthology with stories by various authors set in a world where superhuman powers are common and the British government requires everybody with a Talent, no matter how useless, to register with the Department of Paranormal Resources and be on call to serve their country. Edited by Neil Gaiman and Alex Stewart, Temps contains stories by Alex Stewart, Brian Stableford, Marcus L Rowland, Kim Newman, David Langford, Roz Kaveney, Liz Holliday, Graham Higgins, Colin Greenland, Storm Constantine, and David V Barrett.

A sequel, Euro Temps, expanded the scope to other nations of the European Economic Community. Edited by Alex Stewart, it contains stories by Brian Stableford, Marcus L. Rowland, David Langford, Roz Kaveney, Graham Joyce, Jenny Jones, Liz Holliday, Colin Greenland, Anne Gay, Storm Constantine, Molly Brown, Tina Anghelatos, and Chris Amies.

Temps and Euro Temps provide examples of:

  • Blessed with Suck/What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Most of the protagonists.
  • Canon Discontinuity: "Pitbull Brittan", a savagely angry satire on the government of the day that features Margaret Thatcher taking one for the sake of the country, has an editorial disclaimer establishing it as an in-universe fiction and not a "real" event.
  • Canon Welding:
    • David Langford's "Leaks" is set in the same Atomic Weapons Establishment parody as his novel The Leaky Establishment.
    • Alternate universe versions of a minor character from Kim Newman's "Pitbull Britain" appear in the Richard Jeperson story "Swellhead".
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • "If Looks Could Kill" stars the overweight detective Caligula Foxe (Nero Wolfe), along with his legman Charlie Goodman (Archie Goodwin), his chef Franz (Fritz), and his associates Paul Sanza (Saul Panzer) and Terry Carver (Orrie Cather). Also mentioned are Charlie's lady friend Lila (Lily Rowan), paranormal detective Sally Cole (Sally Colt), and journalist Ron Cohen (Lon Cohen). DPR official Mr Cream might be intended as Inspector Cramer.
    • Pitbull Brittan is a parody of Bulldog Drummond.
  • Creator Cameo: Alex Stewart suffers Death by Cameo in "Pitbull Brittan".
  • Expospeak Gag: "Pitbull Brittan" opens with Brittan's papers regarding his transfer from One Para to the Department of Paranormal Resources. The DPR official is suspicious, believing "this is an oblatory equine situation, and we should acquire the services of a veterinarian dentist". (They should look the gift horse in the mouth.)
  • The Fagin: In "Sortilege and Serendipity", when the hapless hero, whose job is testing Talented kids, is mistaken for the super criminal known as the Taxman, he finds himself spinning a yarn about being a Fagin-figure using his work to recruit powered youngsters into his gang. He briefly wonders why he's never actually done this, before remembering that all the kids he works with are mouthy pains-in-the-neck with useless powers.
  • The Falklands War: It's British satire in the 1990s, so of course the Falklands War gets a few mentions.
    • The title character of "Pitbull Brittan" fought in the Falklands War.
    • In "Frog Day Afternoon", a character with a theory about the government engineering crises it can thwart to keep up its approval ratings mentions the Falklands as what might have given them the idea.
  • Flying Brick: The unseen American superhero Zeus appears to be this. If you call moving through the sky like a bulldozer on ice "flying", anyway.
  • Gentleman Wizard: Loric.
  • Heroes R Us: The DPR. In theory, and sometimes in practice. (They come down very heavily on vigilante activity, though.)
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: A running gag is that every DPR branch office in every story is run by the same inept secretary named Marcia. The anthology's foreword explains that this is a result of a cloning mishap.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: The denouement of "Leaks".
  • Mad Scientist: Cranston.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The famous Mad Scientist Cranston did keep detailed notes of his experiments in robotics, cloning and advanced nuclear power... but because his superpower was the Placebotinum Effect, almost all of them are total nonsense.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Darren's friend Damon in "Someone To Watch Over Me", which the DPR classifies as a semi-autonomous psychokinetic energy field, but Loric prefers to call a familiar.
  • Placebotinum Effect: Cranston, a WWII Mad Scientist. His giant robot is unaffected by a character with psychic control of computers because "he never liked Turing, and used entirely different principles". He died when he sucessfully split an atom with a hammer and chisel.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Loric's briefcase contains "the disassembled neon tubes of a small but effective electric pentacle".
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: One of the reasons turning into a frog isn't as awesome as you might think in "Frog Day Afternoon": conservation of mass means that he turns into a very large frog that can't jump much.
  • Shared Universe
  • Shout-Out:
    • Leonora Norton, whose paranormal power is causing rubbish to spontaneously generate around her, is given the nickname "Captain Kipple", after Philip K. Dick's word for spontaneously generated rubbish.
    • In "Someone To Watch Over Me" by Stewart, the Tome of Eldritch Lore Loric has photocopies of is the Fulvarum Paginarum, a reference to a shared Gaiman and Terry Pratchett joke that also crops up in Discworld, The Sandman and Good Omens. The electric pentacle mentioned in the same story is the iconic tool of Carnacki The Ghost-Finder.
  • Super Registration Act: All British "paranorms" are required to register with the Department of Paranormal Resources and, in exchange for a monthly stipend and a cheap suit, can then be called up as government operatives and penalised for vigilantism. Mostly, the paranorms view this the way most people view government interference in their lives; annoying, but not worth making a fuss over.

WatchmenSuperhero LiteratureJohn Ridley

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