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Literature / Dark Future

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"A tongue-in-cheek kaleidoscope of Cyberpunk, Lovecraftian horror...and ninja nuns." - Alex Stewart, Vector

This page deals with examples from the novels by Kim Newman and the wider setting created therein.

Not to be confused with the trope, Bad Future.

Dark Future was a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop and originally published in 1988. The game was successful enough for Games Workshop to commission a series of novels based on the setting. These started out with the short story anthology Route 666, and was relatively short-lived; the best-known and remembered being the trilogy of novels written by horror novelist and film critic Kim Newman under the pen name Jack Yeovil. These expanded significantly on the background and setting provided in the 1988 rulebook and mixed in elements from horror and played with various well-known Dystopia tropes while mixing in a healthy dose of pop-culture references, Alternate History jokes and cameos from other fictional properties. Although GW have never done anything with the game, Newman's novels (much like his Warhammer works involving Genevieve the Vampire), remained popular enough to survive beyond the lifespan of the game and have been republished by Black Library, though the final installment of his Demon Download series, United States Calvary remains unpublished.

Dark Future's setting was much the same as the tabletop game on which it was based. Newman's novels start out in 1995 and reach 1998 in Comeback Tour. Newman, King and Craig added a fair amount of flesh to the bones of the wargame's setting and background inventing personalities, characters and places to populate the desert wastelands, corporate boardrooms and urban ghettos of the setting. Newman in particular, as the most prolific writer in the Dark Future line, vastly expanded on the alternate history and events that lead to the situation that the in-game world found itself in, as well as creating series Big Bad Elder Seth and his Doomsday Cult The Church of Joseph. The end result was, as noted in the reviewer quote to the right, an anarchic blend of black humour and cyberpunk sensibilities in a universe being threatened with destruction by Cthulhu.

Works In The Dark Future Setting:

  • Route 666 [1990]: An anthology of short fiction by GW regular authors Kim Newman, Brian Craig and William King.
  • Demon Download: Newman-as-Yeovil's first Dark Future novel and the first book in the series that came to share the name.
  • Krokodil Tears: Part Two of the Demon Download series.
  • Comeback Tour: Part Three of Demon Download.
  • Ghost Dancers: Novel by Brian Craig expanding on his Route 666 story Kid Zero and Snake Eyes.
  • Route 666 Jack Yeovil novel expanding on the titular short in Route 666.
  • Golgotha Run by Dave Stone.
  • American Meat by Stuart Moore.
  • Jade Dragon by James Swallow.
  • Reality Bites by Stuart Moore.

The original novelizations, published by Boxtree under the GW imprint, ran from the publication of the Route 666 anthology in 1990 to the publication of the expanded novel of the eponymous short story from the anthology in 1993. Games Workshop republished Yeovil's novels and four new Dark Future books in 2005/06 under their own Black Flame imprint.

Contains Examples of:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • Abnormal Ammo: Explosive rounds are remarkably widespread in everything from pistols up. GenTech manufacture a special version of napalm that bonds to skin on contact and continues to burn underwater and inside of people. They also make smart bullets, referred to in-universe as 'smugslugs,' that can track human heartbeats.
  • Abandoned Area: Given the nature of the setting, there's a few of these. Significant examples are Salt Lake City, which the Josephites rebuild, the monastery at Santa de Nogueira and Cape Canaveral which the Josephites also rebuild. At least, partly.
  • Action Girl: Jessamyn Bonney and Chantal Juillerat. The former; a teenage cyborg who's host to a spirit ''thing'' and is virtually unkillable. The latter; a highly-skilled, superbly trained ninja nun and cyber-exorcist who doesn't need any help from the colletion United States Road Cavalrymen she has following her around.
  • Alternate History: JFK didn't get to be President. Or assassinated. He never even got elected after his affair with Marilyn Monroe was exposed.
    • Yuri Gagarin never made it back to Earth, bringing about the end of Soviet attempts at manned spaceflight.
    • Nelson Mandela was made Pope in 1970.
    • Following a series of riots in 1961, with one especially large one at a Madison Square Garden concert which killed Chuck Berry, Little Richard, three thousand concert goers and left Jerry Lee Lewis a paraplegic, Rock 'n' Roll was effectively outlawed and Elvis disappeared into the army.
    • Under President Nixon, they succeeded in toppling the Castro government.
    • America didn't take part in The Vietnam War. Instead, it was the U.S.S.R that did, and it ended up ruining the Soviet Union. The war was costly, a political disaster and crippled the Soviet Space Program and saw a successful coup led by Yuri Andropov that ushered in a more democratic Soviet State. Boris Yeltsin is still President in 1998, though.
  • Alternate Universe: Elder Seth is shown several thousand alternate versions of himself by the Dark Ones during the summoning of the Jibbenainosay. One of these visions makes for some convenient Canon Welding.
    • Via a drug-induced nightmare when he was shot during his army career, Elvis got to experience our world's version of himself at the nadir of his musical career; fat, sweating, crammed into a rhinestone-studded white suit and so addled on drugs he couldn't remember the lyrics to Are You Lonesome Tonight?. Dark Future Elvis swore off drugs from then on.'
  • Anachronic Order: The works as published have a slightly disjointed internal chronology. The events of Demon Download, take place before those of Route 666 and Krokodil Tears. Word of God states that it doesn't matter what order you read them in, but Route 666 takes place 'first', then Krokodil Tears, then Demon Download, then Comeback Tour.
  • Arc Words: In Comeback Tour:
    "...the sky belongs to the stars."
    Buddy Holly
    • Across both Krokodil Tears and Comeback Tour "tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock;" invoking the sound made by the crocodile pursuing Captain Hook makes as a mark of antagonism between Jessamyn and Seth and as a symbol of the impending end of the world Seth seeks to bring about.
  • Arm Cannon: One of the Mayor of Spanish Fork's mooks in Route 666 has shotgun built into his forearm. The barrel is in the palm of his hand, and he can rack the pump by vigorously moving his arm in the appropriate direction.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Krokodil's rap sheet informs us she's been arrested for Assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft auto and taking part in an illegal sporting event.
  • Attack Drone: Killer Crabs, remote drones with crablike claws. They seek by heat pattern, grab hold of targets with their claws and then explode.
  • Author Avatar: Kim Newman gets in on the Shout-Out game in Krokodil Tears, where he's mentioned as director of the biopic of Dr. Ottokar Proctor.
  • Bad Future: Not to be confused with, but definitely an example of.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: How Josephites who go fully Walton end up.
  • Big Bad: Elder Seth, The Summoner. Immortal, head of a subverted Christian sect devoted to bringing about the victory of the Dark Ones and the end of the world.
  • Bio-Augmentation: One of the various things Jessamyn has done to her by Dr. Threadneedle is having him implant his self-developed micro-organisms which provide her with rapid regeneration.
    • Elvis too, has some augmentation: steel threads in his neck to keep his airway open if someone tries to strangle or garotte him, for one.
  • Blood Sport: Pyramid Fights are the Dark Future version of the typical pitfight. Granite pyramids form the arena, and fights are often to-the-death and there don't appear to be too many rules barring the use of bio-augmentations and cybernetics, even against opponents with none.
  • Body Horror: There's a modest amount of it going on in Demon Download; Duroc carrying the demon intended to possess Fort Apache's mainframe in his body as a fake credit card. Comeback Tour gets a lot more, between the mutant Suitcase People (people mutated into alligators and other reptilian forms by GenTech experimentation), the true origin of The Waltons (see the entry for Path of Inspiration) and Duroc's nightmares about temporarily serving as host to the Jibbenainosay.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Via a severed hand, this is how Jessamyn bypasses the security system locking down Bronson Manolo's DeLorean in Dead Rat.
  • Brain in a Jar: The Rev. Harry Powell, creator of the Word of The Lord broadcasting system, ends up one of these. A brain in a jar in a tank, mind you. One which wanders the Arizona highways, demanding donations from sinners and blasting the unrepentant with napalm.
    • Demon Download also mentions in the same piece of exposition that Ken Dodd, Walt Disney and Howard Hughes have all gone to Gentech to undergo the 'Donovan Treatment' and have their brains stored in bio-fluid filled jars until new bodies can be grown for them.
  • Brick Joke: Early in Krokodil Tears a news report mention the death of Wally The Whale, last living cetacean in the Atlantic and major tourist attraction for the Isle of Skye. The Mayor of Skye plans to have the whale preserved and open up a restaurant in his stomach named Jonah's Snackbar. Two hundred pages later, during the climactic fight between Jessamyn and the Jibbenainosay, Wally the Whale comes back to life. In the middle of the Bolivian ambassador's birthday party.
    • In an early newscast in Demon Download, mention is made of a pet duck cybernetically grafted to a high-powered skateboard. Two books later in Comeback Tour, Lola tells us that Dino The Skateboarding Duck has passed his medical and will be competing in the Indianopolis 500.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Elder Duroc hands Bronson Manolo one of these in exchange for a contract on Jessamyn Bonney's life.
  • Canon Welding: H. P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, inserted into a Games Workshop novel based on a game about cars with guns attached. Krokodil Tears has a sequence in which Elder Seth witnesses an alternate version of himself as Constant Drachenfels, welding Kim Newman's Warhammer novels to the Dark Future canon. An alternate version of Chantal also appears as an associate of Jerome Rhodes, from 20 Minutes into the Future of the Diogenes Club setting, in "Where the Bodies Are Buried 2020".
  • Cessation of Existence: It's what Seth is looking forward to after he's completed his task of Summoning the Dark Ones. And what everyone else who isn't on his side and among the chosen few can expect to receive.
  • Chekhov's Gift: The guitar 'ti-Mouche gives Elvis after he plays in the Cajun camp in Comeback Tour.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Elder Seth's sunglasses in Route 666. Not just Cool Shades, but also a conduit to the Outer Darkness that allows the Ancient Adversary to establish a link with Jessamyn Bonney and select her as her it's host to oppose Seth's machinations.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Elvis. It's his mystical power-through-music that ultimately defeats Seth's plan for Needlepoint. But initially, he's just hired for escort duty.
  • Church Militant: The Catholic Church has an active Inquisition, and is portrayed as being aware of Seth's dark plans and actively trying to avert their fruition.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Commander Fonvielle in Comeback Tour, who regards the Josephites as new NASA staff and Roger Duroc as the new President of the United States, while being otherwise entirely competent and connected to reality. He's also a literal Space Cadet.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Church of Joseph engages in this in order to spill blood to hasten the coming of the Dark Ones. Seth deliberately pushes resettlers from their vehicles in Route 666, has Josephites flagellate themselves to death and Jesuit commandos crucified and kept alive with occasional doses of water in Krokodil Tears, in order that their deaths are prolonged to make them better food for the Dark Ones.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Elvis Aron Presley (retd)
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Gavin Mantle, winner of the ZBC Blotto Lotto prize of 100 million dollars goes on a spree of spending to live up to this including a gold-plated Rolls Royce shaped like a penis, a huge mansion shaped like a pair of breasts with a swimming pool the bottom of which is covered in gemstones and a small army of personal Sexbots.
  • Continuity Nod: Comeback Tour has several news reports which make mention of events from Demon Download and Krokodil Tears.
  • Cool Car: Comeback Tour has Elvis' original pink 1955 Cadillac, fully upgraded with lasers, mine-layers, chainguns, solid-durium armour and it can convert to a hovercraft for jobs in the swamp.
  • Cool Old Guy: Elvis of course.
  • Corrupt Church: The Church of Joseph is a mask for a Religion of Evil to bring about the End of the World as We Know It. Even outside of this, most of the other organized religions who appear are money-grabbing televangelists like the Dexter Blumguard Crusade For Christian Capitalism.
  • Crapsack World: And how. Distilled elements from Judge Dredd, RoboCop, Mad Max combined with a ruined environment, corrupt government and privatized police forces. Throw in resource shortages, evil corporations and a whole subculture devoted to being Ax-Crazy and leave to simmer gently. Oh, and Racial Equality? Never really happened in America. Slavery? Still legal...sort of. It's been renamed indenture and it's more wage slavery, but it's still heavily slanted against black people. On top of all this, there's a Doomsday Cult who worship Eldritch Abominations looking to bring about the End of the World as We Know It.
  • Cyberpunk: Whilst toying with elements from Horror; the cynical worldview damaged environment and overall dystopian feel to the Dark Future novels setting lends itself solidly to the Cyberpunk trope.
  • Cyborg: Chantal Juillerat and Jessamyn Bonney both have a variety of cybernetic augmentations; relatively minor in Chantal's case but much more extensive in Jessamyn's. Gentech's Bio Division retails a wide variety of cybernetic alterations, augmentations and enhancements from the practical (replacement limbs and combat gear) to the cosmetic (yes, they can cybernetically enhance your penis).
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Dr. Threadneedle addresses this topic with Jessamyn shortly after having installed huge amounts of cybernetics and bio-augmentations in her. One of the reasons he was fired by GenTech and Dr. Zarathustra cancelled his projects was to do with the high levels of psychosis that many of his subjects suffered.
    "I can do almost anything with this body, but...when you're superhuman so little seems worth the bother."
    Dr. Simon Threadneedle, Krokodil Tears
  • Dead Person Conversation: Fonvielle has these with the ghosts of astronauts past at Cape Canaveral.
  • Deal with the Devil: Elder Seth is implied to have been the middleman between various parties and the Dark Ones in this deal. He openly states that Presley could've had one, and it's strongly suggested that Colonel Parker, Presley's manager (in the books and the real world) already did.
    '"Colonel Presley could have made a deal with me. I have always taken an interest in music. His life would have been different."
    Elder Seth and Krokodil Comeback Tour
  • Death Seeker: A scene in Krokodil Tears strongly implies that this is what drives Redd Harvest.
  • Deep South: The main Op Agency in the Southern States is called 'The Good Ole Boys,' and the most prevalent gangcults are the Klu Klux Klan and The Knights of The White Magnolia. The G.O.B are portrayed as being pretty much an entire organization of J.W Peppers and Boss Hoggs, chewing tobacco, lording it over "the coloured folks" and generally being a bunch of bigoted rednecks.
  • Demon Slaying: What Chantal Juillerat does for a living.
  • Determinator: Jessamyn, in Krokodil Tears, both after suffering her assault from Elder Seth and still surviving, despite damage cyber-implants and other serious injuries and after her hand-to-hand showdown with Dr. Proctor.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jessamyn defeats the Jibbenainosay in Krokodil Tears, a beast of the Outer Darkness "large enough to have Godzillas the way a dog has fleas."
  • Diner Brawl: Two in Comeback Tour. Elvis and Krokodil face off against a pair of Waltons in their 1950s-esque diner, and Roger Duroc violently confronts a New Orleans chef who appears to have tried to steal his credit card.
  • Divided States of America: Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky are unofficially known as the Independent States of America. As mentioned below, Utah was sold to an Expy of the Mormon Church and was renamed Deseret by them. It's a sufficiently separate state that it's citizens have their own passports.
  • Do Androids Dream?: In Comeback Tour, it's specifically mentioned that even people who are almost entirely cybernetic need to 'switch off' for several hours at a time to engage in R.E.M sleep and also to dream.
  • The Dragon: Elder Roger Duroc to Elder Nguyen Seth.

    Tropes E-H 
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Jibbenainosay, Nyarlathoteop, Azathoth, the Ancient Adversary.
  • Electronic Eyes: Jessamyn has an electronic eye, which can see into other spectra.
  • Elvis Lives: "It's 1998 and the King of Rock and Roll is still alive. After twenty years in the U.S Army, Colonel Elvis Aron carving out a legend as the toughest independent Sanctioned Op in the South." back-cover blurb, Comeback Tour
  • Empty Shell: Dr. Threadneedle suffers from this. He warns Jessamyn against the dangers of disconnecting from humanity once you're augmented, stating that he sometimes zones out for weeks at a time, watching patterns of light in sunsets or the sand grains blowing in the wind.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Bronson Manolo has a set of this in Krokodil Tears. He watches the count of hostile and friendly targets decreasing steadily with increasing Sensor Suspense as it comes down to just one on each side.
  • Energy Weapon: Demon Download specifically mentions that lasers are instantaneous weapons, where the "The beam didn't travel through space. It simply appeared in the air."
  • Evil Minions: Once Josephites go Walton, they definitely fall into this, having been transformed into clone-like, unquestioning 1950s American cliches with only two faces between them; one male and one female.
  • Eye Beams: Jessamyn's eye also has an 'optic burner' installed so she can shoot people who get up close and personal with it.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Jessamyn's Electronic Eye? She keeps it behind an eyepatch.
  • Eye Scream: Newman seems pretty fond of this trope. In the Route 666 short story, Krokodil suffers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Elder Seth that leaves her cybernetic eye hanging out on her cheek. In Krokodil Tears, she pops it back in. Later on in the same book, Dr. Proctor gouges someone's eye out with a spoon. And then licks the spoon clean. He describes himself as having a liking for jabbing fingers (or objects) through the eyes as a killing blow.
  • Exposition of Immortality: In Demon Download, Roger Duroc remembers his father telling him that Elder Seth has been associated with the Duroc family since the Albigensian Crusade. There's also a scene at the Vatican, where a slideshow of images from 1974 to 1868 show Seth's unchanging appearance. He's even shown on a 15th century etching of Vlad The Impaler's execution.
  • Expo Speak Gag: The series has a few of these, mainly encountered in Krokodil Tears during the Californian Op Bronson Manolo's appearances. Manolo always talks like a bizarre cross between a stereotypical surfer and someone in a middle-management position. Best illustrated in this exchange between Roger Duroc and Manolo:
    Manolo "That's a charlie A-one breeze-from-the-freeze affirmative-to-the-max topside positive situation in the black column, Roger."
    Duroc "You mean 'yes'?"
    • Dr. Blakeley pulls one in Comeback Tour.
    "This isn't supposed to happen; he's not a subject, he's GenTech brass. The faecal matter just collided with the ventilation system."
  • Fallen States of America: Set in a crapsack US of A that's suffered economic collapse and a reduction in the President's status from Most Powerful Man In The World to somewhere around 138th Most Powerful Man In The World.
  • Foreshadowing: The Route 666 short story essentially foreshadows the novels plot - Elder Seth is out to bring about the destruction of everything and by happenstance, Jessamyn Bonney ends up being instrumental in stopping him. A more direct foreshadow comes from Hawk-that-Settles dreams; he dreams of the One-Eyed White Girl (Jessamyn), The Man With Music In His Heart (Elvis) and The Holy Woman From Across The Water (Chantal) as people who will stand against The Summoner.
    • A conversation between two United States Road Cavalry troopers in Route 666 makes casual mention of the Needlepoint system.
    • One of the scenes which occurs during Krokodil's possession by the Ancient Adversay in Krokodil Tears jumps to Chantal Juillerat visiting the Moscow Zoo, where the animal she happens to be looking at is a crocodile. Due to United States Calvary remaining unpublished, the foreshadowed meeting never actually happens.
  • Future Slang: Most of the future neologisms listed in the game's rulebook get recycled in the books, and Yeovil's substitute 'freak' for most instances of 'fuck.'
    • They're not just gangs, they're gangcults.
    • When they're white surpremacist gangcults, they're hoodheads.
  • Gangbangers: The various biker gangs, Panzergirl groups and the other "57 varieties of psychopathic crazies" inhabiting the wastelands and the NoGos. The books have plenty of White Gangbangers as well; most representing far-right politcal beliefs (the Knights of the White Magnolia, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Klu Klux Klan, for example).
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Dark Ones. The Dark Ones are combination of various cultures' demons and the Great Old Ones. Azathoth and Nyarlathotep get direct namechecks in Krokodil Tears.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Suitcase People. Half-human, half-alligator. Or half iguana. Or, in one case, half-tyrannosaur.
  • Haunted Technology: The Demon Download series is replete with this trope. Unsurprising, really, given the title of the first novel and the series overall. The first book has a demon infecting computer systems and operating any technology those computer systems are connected to, resulting in a demon-possessed United States Road Cavalry cruiser and later on, possessed kitchen appliances. In Comeback Tour, the only reason the Josephites are able to get Needlepoint working is that they're using voodoo to have the Kill Sat possessed by Elder Seth.
  • Healing Factor: Jessamyn, after having been worked on by Dr. Threadneedle in Krokodil Tears, has his patented regeneration system as one of her many cybernetic augmentations, enabling her almost instantly heal minor to moderate injuries and shrug off major wounds. It doesn't make her, or its inventor invincible though.
    • Elder Seth also has this. In Krokodil Tears he bites off the tip of his own finger to use in a ritual, knowing it'll grow back. His is entirely supernatural, though.
  • Heel Realization: At the end of Comeback Tour Fonvielle finally realizes he's on the wrong side after all and why the ghosts of the astronauts want to stop Needlepoint being brought back online and gets shot for his My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • Heroic Host: Krokodil becomes the Host of the Ancient Adversary, the Pawn of the Nullifiers. Exactly what the nature of the Ancient Adversary is is never made clear during the series. However, it seems to take the form of a crocodile and is connected in some way to the Moon. It's certainly been around as long as Seth and the Dark Ones have and it's probably not good, just antithetically opposed to them. Being it's host gives Jessamyn some degree of supernatural invulnerability and some extra super-strength on top of the cybernetic augmentations she already had.
  • Historical Domain Character: Oliver North is the current U.S President, Boris Yeltsin rules Russia, and of course, The King of Rock and Roll as a futuristic Bounty Hunter.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: Complete with holy water, prayers in Latin and the demonic target screaming and mocking all the way through.
  • Human Sacrifice: Blood must be spilled to hasten the coming of the Dark Ones. Nguyen Seth is quite happy to spill his followers blood and his own to this end.

    Tropes I-L 
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Dead Rat, Arizona.
  • Improvised Weapon: Comeback Tour has a fight between Elvis, Jessamyn and a pair of Josephite Waltons in a diner. Kitchenware rapidly gets pressed into service as handy weapons.
  • Infodump: The Jack Yeovil novels manage to mainly weave their exposition about the setting, its history, past events within the series and most of the references into in-universe news broadcasts, usually given partway through each part of the individual novels.
  • Interspecies Romance: Elvis' channel-surfing spree in Comeback Tour briefly passes through a porno-channel in which "a hairy-legged satyr was coupling with a green, gilled nymphette." Could be costumes only, but given the bio-augmentation widely available in-universe, it's probably not.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: The various ghosts of astronauts and cosmonauts seen by Fonvielle at Cape Canaveral all wear whatever they were wearing when they died; usually spacesuits. The ghost of Yuri Gagarin appears as a mobile, man-shaped conglomeration of ash.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The GenTech Corporation, a Korean-Japanese conglomerate and the series' dubious MegaCorp. Gentech has controlling interests in most non-Asian corporations, it's own corporate currency which is accepted as legal tender by various countries and organisations, and has its financial claws dug deep enough into the U.S.A that the yen is legal currency in many American states.
  • Kill Sat: Comeback Tour has the Needlepoint System. A world-encircling network of laser-equipped kill sats inteneded to be "capable of knocking out a flight of Soviet bombers scrambling in Tashkent or a cockroach crawling across a loft floor in Harlem." Needlepoint proved to cripplingly expensive too deploy and NASA could never get it to work, leading to it being nicknamed the "Needledick System."
  • Large Ham: The demon who possesses the computer systems of Fort Apache in Demon Download is one of these. As soon as it gets into a machine with a voicebox it begins very loudly spouting cliches and acting like a cross between Jack Torrance in The Shining and Jack Nicholson as The Joker.
  • LEGO Genetics: The Suitcase People appear to have been created from splicing alligator DNA into humans. Somehow, this created a group of half-human hybrids with tails and alligator jaws, and a few more primordial throwbacks such as one who's basically a half-dinosaur hybrid.
    • Kid Zero and Snake Eyes mentions at its conclusion that GenTech also gives people animal genes for temporary/semi-permanent skin/eye changes for fashion purposes, much like temping in Transmetropolitan.
  • List of Transgressions: Krokodil Tears opens with Jessamyn's rap sheet from 1991, when she was still at High School.
  • Lottery of Doom: Averted in the ZBC Blotto Lotto, which is just your ordinary, win millions of dollars lottery. Then played straight in that Roger Duroc decides that the best of way of randomly selecting a test target for Needlepoint's first firing is the winner of the ZBC Blotto Lotto. After all they are selected entirely randomly, without bias!

    Tropes M-P 
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Zarathustra, head researcher of GenTech is widely implied to be at the very least skirting the edges of sanity.
    • Dr. Simon Threadneedle, genius cyber-surgeon and definitely a bit on barmy side.
    • Dr. Ottakar Proctor. He's a genius-level economist, Presidential adviser and Godfather to the First Family. Also a keen opera fan and he's written theses on cultural dynamics in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Oh, and he's a sociopathic serial killer with six hundred and forty-eight corpses to his tally.
  • Magical Native American: Hawk-That-Settles, he's the one who instructs cyberpunk ganger Jessamyne on how to attain higher levels of spirituality, to prepare for her role as The Chosen One. He can also perceive the spirit within a person. This allows him to recognize Dr. Ottokar for the human monster he is.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: During the fight in Dead Rat in Krokodil Tears, Dr. Threadneedle gets covered in napalm, stabbed and shot several times. He calmly assesses the damage, snaps the man trying to bayonet him in half and carries on. Once the fight is over, he decides his left is too badly damaged and detaches it. Justified, in that he's almost entirely cybernetic and he can turn off his pain processes.
    • The Walton Josephites feel no pain, either. The Donnie and Marie that Jessamyn and Elvis have their Diner Brawl with shrug off being shot, stabbed, burned, heart-punched and having their arms ripped off. Again, justified, in that they're some sort of weird mutation that Elder Seth causes in his followers.
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: The Pan-Islamic Congress. Due to the books' primary setting being North America, they only get a passing mention in one of the Continuity Nod-laden news bulletins in Krokodil Tears, but the capital is Tehran, the Congress is currently occupying Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In-universe; ZBC's newscaster Lola Stechkin. Her expositional news reports are delivered from her jacuzzi, her shower and her dancercize studio.
  • Mugging the Monster: Hermann Katz thought that the battered, mildly-concussed girl in fishnets with one eye would be the perfect next victim. Shame she turned out to be a cybernetic killing machine. Ironically, Krokodil had earlier figured that the Josephite preacher with no weapons would be an easy mark and he had such a cool pair of sunglasses to steal, after all.
    • Fat Pierre, a New Orleans chef running a credit card fraud operation, picked a pretty bad mark when he picked Roger Duroc.
  • Mutants: The Suitcase People, possibly the Waltonified Josephites. An assortment of mutant animals appear to live in the desertified wastelands.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: Playing on the widely-held notion that Native American tribes name children after the first thing the father sees upon leaving the hogan, Hawk-That-Settles' father is named Two-Dogs-Dying and mention is made of Three-Cars-Bumper-To-Bumper, Broken-Telephone-Booth and Maniak-Corpse-Rotting. Hawk's dad was determined that his son wouldn't have such a name. No one else saw the hawk Two-Dogs claims he did, but everyone went along with it.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: GenTech. The Japanese-Korean corporation is huge, with it's various division devoted to everything from bio-augmentation, cybernetics and military hardware to household goods, cosmetic surgery and krill-based breakfast cereals. Having GenTech weapons gives a significant advantage and its strongly implied that they essentially control Japanese foreign policy. Plus, since they effectively own most of the world's corporations and private security/military outfits, they exercise an immense amount of control.
    "What are GenTech...I'm sorry, I mean what are the Japanese government doing about this?"
    Boris Yeltsin, Comeback Tour
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Elvis sees and occasionally talks to his dead twin brother, Jesse Garon. To begin with, this is a purely internal thing, but there are points later in Comeback Tour when the Op swears he sees something there. When 'Ti-Mouche gives him the guitar, both Elvis and Krokodil can see the ghost of Jesse. Of course, Krokodil can see a lot of things other people can't, thanks to hosting the Ancient Adversary.
  • Omnicidal Maniac; Elder Seth. Despite being of the position that he has no choice other than to fulfill his destiny as The Summoner and bring about the victory of the Dark Ones and the end of everything, he's perfectly aware that he's bringing about the end of the world and he doesn't care.
    "I do not want to summon the Dark Ones. I must. I have no choice in the matter."
    Elder Seth, Comeback Tour
  • Orphaned Series: Despite Games Workshop republishing the extant Jack Yeovil novels in the Dark Future setting, and having four entirely new novels in the same universe written, they've neither republished the Route 666 anthology or Brian Craig's Ghost Dancers and have no apparent interest in having the final novel in the Demon Download series published. Given that Black Library haven't put out a new Dark Future novel since 2006, and the Black Flame imprint closed in 2008, it seems as if the setting is once again consigned to Limbo.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Current U.S President Oliver North doesn't directly appear in the novels, but he's generally regarded by in-universe sources as being ineffectual and a puppet of vested interests. Also, he did let himself be manipulated by his own finance adviser into following absolutely terrible economic policies designed to cripple the country. Probably enough to qualify as a President Buffoon subtype, with a dash of President Corrupt.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Averted in Comeback Tour; Needlepoint requires a massive list of codewords to be entered in response to the satellite computer's queries, taking twelve hours to complete the correct entry of all the passwords. Parodied in Demon Download: The password is "swordfist" and is frequently mistaken for swordfish.
  • Path of Inspiration: Praise the Lord and rejoice as you follow the Path of Joseph. Please ignore side-effects like your toes fusing together, your genitalia disappearing and turning into a shop window dummy version of Donny or Marie Walton, or helping to bring about the End of the World as We Know It.
  • Patricide: At age thirteen, Jessamyn Amanda Bonney was arrested, stood trial for and was acquitted of the murder of her father Bruno, on the grounds of self-defence.
  • Phlebotinum Bomb: Mentioned in passing, the Virus Vigilantes gangcult of Detroit engineered a strain of mosquitoes that bore a deadly virus and did nothing but bite people in their rival's gang colours.
  • Point of Divergence: Dark Future's alternate timeline seems to coincide closely with the Real World's, up until 1961, when John F. Kennedy is found in bed with Marilyn Monroe and the subsequent scandal causes him to lose the election to Richard Nixon, who serves as a two-term President instead.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The Pacific Coast is, as quoted above. Utah is so much of a wasteland that the U.S Government sold the whole state to the religious group, The Church of Joseph.
    • Niagara Falls has become The Niagara Muddy Trickle, The Great Lakes have mostly dried up and the Mississippi no longer flows. New Orleans is a partially flooded swamp and the "disease capital of the South-east."
  • The Power of Rock: Comeback Tour features Elvis Presley. No prizes for guessing who has this power.
  • Psychic Link: After stealing and wearing his Cool Shades, Jessamyn and Elder Seth find that this has created a mental link between the two of them. Occasionally, they have semi-amicable mind-to-mind conversations.

    Tropes Q-T 
  • Really 700 Years Old: Elder Nguyen Seth, The Summoner. In Demon Download it's stated that Seth first came into contact with Roger Duroc's family during the Albigension Crusade. That took place in the 13th century, and it's hinted by Seth that he's much older.
    "I remember a hundred years ago as if it were the last minute. A thousand, two thousand, ten thousand years ago."
    Elder Seth, Comeback Tour
  • Red Baron: Jessamyn Amanda Bonney, alias Jazzbeuax, alias Krokodil, alias Frankenstein's Daughter.
  • Redemption Equals Death: For Commander Fonvielle it did.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Sort of. After all, the series main Big Bad is the head of an ostensibly Christian church whose actual purpose is to bring about the End of The World. They're also replete with examples of corrupt, money-grabbing, debauched religious leaders whose churches are scams intended to part the gullible faithful from their money. And yet; The Catholic Church is a force for good, directly opposed to the activity of the Religion of Evil and significantly more liberal than its real world counterpart. Equally, voodoun and Native American spirituality are portrayed in a positive light and there's a moment in Krokodil Tears where Hawk-That-Settles pays his respects to Jesus, even though he's not a Christian.
    He bowed his head to the carpenter. A powerful manitou was to be revered, whether he was born in a tribal hogan or a Judean stable.
    Kim Newman, Krokodil Tears
  • Robo Cam: GenTech's cybernetic eyes. Readers occasionally get descriptions of Krokodil looking at the world as heat patterns.
  • Russian Roulette: Jessamyn pulls this on a drunk antagonist in Dead Rat's bar-cum-brothel in Krokodil Tears. With a couple of slight twists; it's a seven-chambered revolver with two bullets in and her cybernetic implants make it pretty irrelevant if she gets shot.
    "Didn't I mention I have a bullet-proof skull?"
    Jessamyn 'Krokodil' Bonney, Krokodil Tears
  • Scars Are Forever: Averted. Thanks to Threadneedle's micro-organisms, Krokdil's lost all of her old scars and new wounds won't leave a mark. Zarathustra Treatments, an in-universe anti-aging drug, may also undo scarring.
  • Serial Killer: Dr. Ottokar Proctor is the big example of this. A Hedonistic subtype, with a modest amount of Visionary mixed in, though he is undoubtedly insane, he certainly makes no attempt at claiming that he didn't know what he was doing.
  • Sexbot: GenTech produces a range of sex clones: vat-grown bodies that can be tailored to match a buyer's fantasy and are also available in various celebrity look-a-like variations. People can license their likeness for these. Not technically robots, but they're grown with artificially limited brains and one is described as being "switched off."
  • Shout-Out: Kim Newman at work. Even under a pseudonym, writing for Games Workshop, the Dark Future novels were just as shout-out-tastic as ever.
    • Fort Apache, in Demon Download. It's not in the same place as that Fort Apache, but it's populated by similar characters and it's computers play the theme tune from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon when people log in.
    • Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers of are mentioned as inmates at the Secure Institution Dr. Proctor is locked up in in Krokodil Tears.
    • The Katz Motel in Spanish Fork, which features in Route 666 and Krokodil Tears? Katz even has a go at murdering Krokodil in the shower while dressed as his mother.
    • Colonel Elvis Aron Presley, toughest independent Sanctioned Op in the South. Yes, that Elvis Presley.
    • John Lennon is the leader of the Labour Party. Elvis once did a bodyguarding job for Lennon during a U.N conference, and Lennon commented that he might've stayed in music if Presley had.
    • Jeffrey Archer is the leader of the Conservative Party.
    • The Jibbenainosay, the Eldritch Abomination Seth summons to kill Krokodil in Krokodil Tears is a reference to Nick Of The Woods, an 1839 play by Louise H Medina about a man seeking revenge for his family's murder by Native Americans.
    • Sir Oswald Osbourne, greatest operatic voice of the 1990s. Noted for his performance in Pagliacci and of Nessun Dorma.
    • Bruce Springsteen appears to be Elvis' building's security guard in Comeback Tour.
    • Iain Banks is the Mayor of Skye.
    • Neil Gaiman, a long-time friend of Newman's, pops up as the author of Tintin in the Land of the Ragheads; a controversial graphic novel that sees a fatwa declared on him by the Pan-Islamic Congress.
    • A slang term for teenage gang members in the NoGos is a 'panzer girl/boy.' Tank Girl did come out in the same year, after all.
    • One the people who receive a copy of Jessamyn Bonney's Arrest Report at the beginning of Krokodil Tears is Interzone editor David Pringle, who also worked as series editor for Dark Future, Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.
    • Bronson Manolo's high-tech and highly secure tank and mobile command centre is a DeLorean Sand Master.
    • Mention is made in Comeback Tour of a small and little-known Op Agency acting as underground railroad for indentess to escape slavery in the Southern States. The Agency's name? Logan's Runners
    • After being augmented by Threadneedle, Jessamyn asks him "When do I get to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond?"
    • Leonard Nimoy and Mark Hamill are among the casualties Fonvielle remembers from the American Space Programme.
    • One of several United States Road Cavalry members who put in an appearance is one Sergeant Quincannon. And yes, he's stationed at Fort Apache.
    • Dark Future's Doctor Who is played by Barry Humphries of Dame Edna Everage fame.
  • Shown Their Work: Kim Newman did quite a bit of research on Elvis for Comeback Tour, and it shows. From the extensive song titles to the little details about how The King cut his first acetate at Sun Records and his family background, there's a wealth of detail that most people would have no clue about.
    • He also did fair bit on NASA history to flavour the history of Cape Canaveral with accuracy and some neat little Shout-Out moments to past astronauts.
  • Show Within a Show: ZBC, The Station That's Got It All provides the Yeovil novels with several. There's medical Soap Opera My Pal, The Biosurgeon, crime reconstruction and news show Snitchwatch, USA, survivor game show The Cain Factor and masturbation advice from Jack Off With Jake.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Played for laughs. Skeleton keycards, for bypassing electronic card locks are part of the equipment issued to Chantal by the Vatican.
  • Slave Liberation: Elvis routinely works against organizations (legal and otherwise) who make money off the legalized slavery system of indenture. Comeback Tour starts out with him helping defend a swamp township from a group Klan-hood wearing slavers, and later on he liberates a group of indentees being used as human shields.
  • Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: For a setting in which Law Enforcement, Inc. is a major plot factor, Yeovil's novels at least sit roughly in the middle of this. Sure, there are outfits like the Good Ole Boys; taking handouts, running protection and indulging in the slave trade. But there are also Logan's Runners and the Hound Dog Agency who go out of their way, often turning down more lucrative and safer jobs, to help the underprivileged and under-financed.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: The novels are generally rooted in the Unusual level: it's the near future, supernatural events do occur and there are some weird mutant creatures, but they're viewed by the general population and several of the main cast as bizarre happenings, not day-to-day events. Some of the future tech veers it towards the Fantastic, as do the Eldritch Abominations, but these aren't the main focus and certainly not regular occurrences.
  • Southern Gentleman: Comeback Tour's Big Bad Wannabe Robert E. Lee Chamberlain of the Good Ole Boys Op Agency. He's got a white linen suit, an expensive cigar perpetually attached in place of a corncob pipe, unfailingly calls women "ma'am," and a Dixie accent. Of course, beneath his stereotypical facade he's also a Dirty Cop and a dirty slave-taker.
  • Staged Shooting: In the Route 666 anthology, the Myles Burnham short Four-Minute Warning ends with a fake execution variation; trigger is pulled, but the gun turns out not to be loaded as it was purely to humiliate and terrify the target.
  • Stepford Smiler: Female Josephites who turn into Waltons turn into Type C.
  • Stubborn Mule: Elvis is watching TV in Comeback Tour and briefly pauses his channel-surfing to be amused by Pepe the Robo-Mule, a cybernetically augmented Hispanic burro version of RoboCop who declares himself to be "a stubborn crusader for jos-teece!"
  • Super-Senses: Jessamyn, via her various cybernetic implants. And Doc Threadneedle, who gave her them. Listed enhanced senses include taste, touch, Infra-red and Heat Vision, bat sonar and a model that can convert light patterns into psychedelic experiences.
  • Super-Strength: Jessamyn either due to cybernetics or through the influence of the Ancient Adversary at different points. Dr. Threadneedle, due to his own bio-augmentations.
  • Take That!: The Church of Joseph are a fairly widely-aimed swipe at Christian Fundamentalism in general and, with their HQ in Utah, the Mormon Church in particular. That long-term members of the Church eventually turn into Donny and Marie Walton clones is a light-hearted jab at certain aspects of American culture.
    • Rev. Powell and his corrupt church in Demon Download, Gary The Guru in Krokodil Tears.
    • The Daughters of the American Revolution are depicted as a white supremacist gangcult.
  • Technology Marches On: Thanks to the 1990-1991 publication dates of most of the original novels, there's no real indication of the Internet and people are still being asked to send hardcopy faxes in to ZBC to enter competitions, rather e-mailing, texting or pressing buttons on their TV remotes. A Cavalry Trooper mentions having a CD in his Walkman. Then again, most of these technological advances hadn't really taken off even in 1995 - '95 was the year the Internet was commercialized, MP3 players didn't appear until 1996 and first-gen iPods didn't until 2001.
  • Teeny Weenie: When Hiroshi Shiba turns into a Suitcase Person, he's in the middle of peeing. One of the scientists who cart him away to the lab observes "Oh well, it's not the size of your pencil; it's how you write your name."
  • Tempting Fate: Susie Terhune of the Holderness-Manolo team sent into Dead Rat to eliminate Jessamyn demonstrates Genre Blindness by announcing: "She doesn't stand a chance."
  • Time Abyss: Elder Seth. A scene in Route 666 has him remembering blood sacrifices from the Mutia Escarpment, Judea under King Herod and The Roman Empire.
  • Totally Radical: Bronson Manolo talks like this. All the time. Then again, he's a perma-tanned, Californian Surfer Dude with perfect white teeth and a totally ripped bod who also happens to a top-flight Op, dude.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sadly common in this world, perhaps the biggest would be the USA of Dark Future. The POTUS Oliver North entrusts the economy of the country to Dr. Ottokar, who'd be the result if Hannibal Lecter and the Joker had a baby. Ottokar so thoroughly destroyed the economy that it's believed that it would take centuries for it to recover. The economic collapse is a huge reason why America splintered into No-Go and Populated zones, that Utah would be renamed Deseret and split off from the rest of the US and why gangs and cults rule large chunks of the country.
  • Troperiffic: A series of Kim Newman works in an Alternate History.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Dark Future pretty much exemplifies this trope; from it's not even a decade away setting, accentuated urban decay, inner city crime gone wild, dubious Mega Corps and Japan taking over the world in the shape of the GenTech Corporation.

    Tropes U-Z 
  • United Europe: The United European Community. They use Sicily as a giant prison camp. In keeping with the British creator, the U.K isn't in the U.E.C, though it does use the ECU for currency. Slightly averted as Switzerland maintains it's neutrality.
  • Unobtainium: Warhammer 40,000 has Adamantium, Dark Future had durium. Lots of things get made out of this; cars, armour, doors, and most of Krokodil (and other cyborgs) internal armour and augmented bone-structure.
  • The Unpronounceable: Nguyen Seth's first name is a fairly soft version. Elvis' mechanic in Comeback Tour, Nick Papageorgidias is a little harder.
  • Unusual User Interface: Skulljacks for vehicle/machine/weapon interfacing get mentioned several times.
  • Voodoo Doll: In Comeback Tour, a voodoun priest makes one of these of a minor antagonist and gives it to Elvis. It actually works.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: Greek Fraternities have transformed into gangs for White Gangbangers. A scene in Krokodil Tears sees Redd Harvest chasing down a group of Fratmobiles full of "fresh-faced Fascists in letter jackets and football helmets."
  • Warrior Monk: The Jesuit Order are used as the Vatican's crack commandos, carrying out infiltration and sabotage missions against the Catholic Church's enemies. Mostly seen as the results of unsuccessful attempts to infiltrate Deseret and bring down the Church of Joseph. Partly justified in that the Society of Jesus were historically founded by a knight and were a technically militant order.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Krokodil undergoes this, willingly, at the hands of Dr. Threadneedle after getting knocked around by Seth in Route 666. It's mentioned that there's a limit to how much someone can be rebuilt, and certain diseases and injuries are unsurmountable by GenTech's BioDiv, leading to people taking the Donovan Treatment and becoming brains in jars, waiting for advances to build them new bodies or being transplanted into mechanical ones.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Nguyen Seth. In his own words: "I am already mad by most standards."
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Krokodil is spelt like that when you convert the Russian for crocodile into Western characters. Jessamyn herself is a big fan of Soviet Rock and Roll in-universe. Ironically, Krokodil is now a slang term for a particular drug in modern Russia.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Duroc considers killing Fonvielle for just this reason when Needlepoint is activated. Averted in that he doesn't do it. Not for this reason, anyway.