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Literature / You Are Dead (Sign Here Please)

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A series of comedy books written by Andrew Stanek.

After Nathan Haynes, lately of Dead Donkey, Nevada dies, he discovers that the afterlife is run by a Celestial Bureaucracy. But on his refusal to sign a form acknowledging his death they're forced to send him back to life until they can trick him into signing it.

The series has six entries.

  1. You Are Dead. (Sign Here Please)
  2. You Are A Ghost. (Sign Here Please)
  3. You Are Doomed. (Sign Here Please)
  4. You Are Undead. (Sign Here Please)
  5. You Are On Fire. (Sign Here Please)
  6. You Are Concluded. (Sign Here Please)

Tropes present in this series:

  • Angel Unaware: The bureaucrats use disposable bodies to get around on Earth when they want to inspect something personally or deal with a tricky problem.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Nathan pays very little attention to what's going on around him and tends to drift off and start thinking about cereal jingles when people try to tell him more than a few sentences at a time.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Director Fulcher is prone to shifting blame onto his employees and dangling promotions and name changes over their heads and never delivering.
    • Overdirector Powell has a large collection of canes topped with skulls that belonged to Director Fulcher's predecessors who failed her.
  • Back from the Dead: Nathan repeatedly, much to Director Fulcher's ire.
  • Big Bad: Director Fulcher is the big bad for much of the series, as he is responsible for putting Nathan's file in order and goes to great lengths to accomplish it.
  • Body Backup Drive: If the Celestial Bureaucracy does not want you to die for some reason, they'll stuff your soul into one of the bodies normally used by bureaucrats going undercover on Earth whenever you die. This is the fate of Nathan, who isn't allowed into the afterlife until he agrees to sign his 21B (Decedent Acknowledgment and Waiver of Liability).
  • Calvinball: Dead Donkey is famous for its traditional sport, Muleball. Muleball involves neither balls, nor mules and has no stated rules. It consists primarily of "players" beating the crap out of other players (who needn't realize they are playing beforehand) and taking their valuables. It is distinguishable from simply mugging someone, although in what way is never established.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Bureaucracy is not only essential to anything happening over a certain size, but also the literal meaning of life. As the universe expanded and grew more complex, the original bureaucrats created life on Earth, culminating in humans with immortal souls who could enter the afterlife upon death and help out with all the paperwork that was piling up.
  • Cessation of Existence: Attempted by Director Fulcher in You Are On Fire as a last ditch effort to put Nathan's file in order. By destroying Nathan's file entirely, he hopes to make it so that Nathan disappears from existence completely. The book is centered on the gang's attempt to correct this before Fulcher can get done editing adjacent files of any mention of Nathan.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Nathan is a bit eccentric even given the bizarre world he inhabits, mainly because he's got a brain lesion that makes him incapable of fearing death. It also seems to make it very hard to concentrate for anything for more than a few moments, and causes him to develop odd theories - for instance, he believes that people who keep plants in their offices do so because they are especially angry and shouty and therefore need the extra oxygen produced by plants.
  • Contrived Coincidence: On more than one occasion (during the same 24 hour period no less!) Nathan is killed while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a badger. This seems to be a fairly common occurrence as there is a desk in the afterlife bureaucracy solely for people who have died in this incredibly specific manner. There is a separate desk for people who have died while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a honey badger (which isn't a true badger).
  • Corrupt Politician: All of Dead Donkey's politicians are corrupt as a matter of principle.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The central conflict of You Are Doomed comes from Director Fulcher dooming Nathan.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Travis Habsworth of 2388 Shillington Road, Albany very specifically disbelieves in a huge number of things that most people would agree are real, including but not limited to: money, bus drivers, skepticism and Australia.
  • I Am Big Boned: One of the things Fulcher threatens Nathan with if he won't sign the form acknowledging he's dead is to reincarnate him as the only fat man in history who genuinely has a gland disorder and is big-boned, condemning him to a life of protestations that no one will believe.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Brian, repeatedly frustrated by his Only Sane Man status, very quickly descends into alcoholism as the series continues.
  • Kangaroo Court: The most prominent judge in Dead Donkey is a little girl who takes legal advice from her imaginary unicorn friend. More generally, felons are expected to take themselves to trial.
  • Mayor Pain: The mayor of Dead Donkey is resoundingly unpopular and is also (separately) a drunken incoherent bum.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The deceased animal for which Dead Donkey was named was actually a mule.
    • The city's resident sport, Muleball, involves neither mules, nor balls, and consists mainly of players beating the crap out of other players (who needn't know that they are playing beforehand) and stealing their stuff.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: The Church of Particularly Cynical Atheists have figured out that the universe is in fact run by a Celestial Bureaucracy and want to prove that fact since they reason that if the universe is run by bureaucrats, then it is not run by God, therefore God does not exist. They are not at all happy when Nathan points out the numerous logical holes in that argument.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Nathan's got a brain lesion that leaves him with no fear of death whatsoever.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Doctor Vegatillius' (stolen) doctorate is in art history, despite him posing as a neurobiologist.
  • Obstructive Bureaucracy: The Celestial Bureaucracy seems to go out of its way to be as obtuse and long-winded as possible and they require forms be filled out for absolutely everything that happens, including scheming against your boss, sobering up or disastrous romances based on clingy desperation and/or desperate clinginess.
  • Only Sane Man: Travis Habsworth, in spite of his unusual disinclination towards believing in things, seems otherwise fairly intelligent and coherent and is generally one step ahead of bureaucrats. This in addition to being fairly resistant to Nathan's contagious stupidity (unlike Brian).
  • Police Are Useless: Dead Donkey does have a police force, but they are very determinedly guarding the q-tip factory, and thus avoiding doing any real work.
  • Too Stupid To Live: While Nathan's complete lack of self-preservation is a result of a brain lesion, it's abundantly clear that even if it weren't he'd still be this. For but one example, he's an avid supporter of Dead Donkey's prominent serial killers union.
  • Unfortunate Names:
    • In Brian Dithershoes' opinion, his own name is this, and much of his actions are driven by the promise of a name change. He would much prefer to be called Andrew Dithershoes.
    • The city of Dead Donkey, whose name is subject to frequent lampooning.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The bureaucrats are required to obey any and all Earthly laws, even ones passed in the infamously corrupt and insane city of Dead Donkey.
  • Wretched Hive: Dead Donkey is this in spades. The main municipal pastimes are arson and Muleball, a sport which has nothing to do with mules or balls but that consists of people beating each other up on the street and stealing each other's valuables. The main income is from tourism, which is to say, the city offers free trips there for the gullible and then charges them outrageous fees for the trip back home.