Thirteen years ago, the sun and stars all vanished from the sky. This was called the "Big PM." Even worse was the realization that any living thing that stayed in darkness for at least ten hours started to change, to transform into something monstrous. They call them "Shades" and human Shades are the worst, attacking anything in their path.
Now, thirteen years after the Big PM, Val Riggs (call sign: Sundog) works as a truck driver, transporting anything the surviving cities need in the dark, deadly roads. All she has left is her truck and her adopted brother, Emory. However, Emory is currently infected by the darkness and will turn into a Shade if Val doesn't find a sunlamp to sufficiently cure him. So she takes a job from an old man and his granddaughter.
It just happens that this old man is being pursued. Because he might be the man who killed the sun.
Tropes in Nocterra:
- After the End: After the Big PM, humanity has shifted to smaller cities that can be more easily lit up completely. Even then, it's very dangerous traveling from one city to the next and sometimes cities fall due to attacks from Shades.
- Always Night: The "Big PM" has made it always night on Earth for thirteen years.
- Body Horror: From what little we see of the Shades, this applies. Val notes that, at first, you could always tell what something was before it changed, but after a few years, insect and plant Shades interbred and turned into completely new species. However, human Shades stayed to themselves and look straight up monstrous.
- Cool Helmet: Val has a helmet that covers her face and has a circle of light. It looks cool and also keeps her lit so she doesn't turn into a Shade.
- Dark Is Evil: Blacktop Bill, the person hunting the old man Val is transporting, shows up as completely black, aside from the inside of his mouth. He says that's because he's "bonded" to a matrix of carbon nanotubes, a "pretty painful" process, but it allows him to burn people with a touch.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Blacktop Bill likes what the world has become, feeling that it suits him better than the way things were before. However, when he learns the true intentions of the entity behind the Big PM, he is absolutely horrified. Enough so that he is willing to form an Enemy Mine alliance with Val's team to fight Nox.
- Neon City: Since neon is one of the easiest ways to light things up and stay lit, the city comes across a lot like this. In addition, most people wear some sort of light, usually neon, in order to always be lit.
- The Night That Never Ends: The sun is still there, but it somehow is either blocked or changes into darkness in the atmosphere. And it's been going on for thirteen years.
- Points of Light Setting: A literal example, with the only outposts of humanity left being small towns that are constantly lit to keep away The Night That Never Ends.
- The Stars Are Going Out: In addition to the sun, the stars vanished during the Big PM as well.
- The Virus: Those who stay in the dark for at least ten hours start changing, turning into Shades. Sometimes, if the infection has only appeared in the gums, it can be staved off with dialysis and a strong sunlamp. But if goes beyond the gums, that person is doomed to turn into a Shade.
- Was Once a Man: The human Shades. Unlike the plant and insect Shades, who have all interbred and become something new, the human Shades stay to themselves, but also are the most terrifying.
- Weakened by the Light: The Shades are weakened and destroyed by light. Emory makes explosives for Val that light up the area in order to kill the Shades.