Good Omens

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1st edition hard cover.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is novel written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and published on 1990-05-01. The story takes a humorous approach of viewing the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations by making extraneous use of footnotes. It seems the world is going to end on a Saturday. Next Saturday actually. Just after tea. Crowley and Aziraphale (a demon and an angel) who have grown quite accustom to life on Earth, don't very much want the world to end, and have taken it upon themselves to prevent the Apocalypse.

Some of the main characters include:

  • Crowley - the demon who always wears dark shades and drives a vintage Bentley.
  • Aziraphale - an angel who owns a books store in Soho, but hates to sell his books.
  • Adam Young - the anti-Christ at age 11 who loves nature and his dog.
  • Anathima Device - current owner of "The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter."
  • Newton Pulsifer - a guy in way over his head.
  • The Four Motorcyclists of the Apocalypse - Famine, War, Death, and Pollution (Pestilence retired).

I first read this book around 2002 after my girlfriend at the time highly recommended it to me. At first, I was hesitant to read it because, while I was nearing the end when I called myself a Christian, I still believed in having reverence for religion. She described it in a fairly blasphemous way, so I was pretty sure I would be insulted by the book, however, she herself had grown up fairly religious, so I gave it a shot. Very quickly, I found that the book was not only extremely funny, but also not what I would call blasphemous.

Status

I own a first edition US hardcover and have read it. I've also listened to the Stephen Briggs audio book recording.

Review

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • This is seriously one of the funniest books I've ever read. Nearly every page has a laugh-out-loud moment.
  • The combination between the dark humor of Gaiman and the silliness of Pratchett is a beautiful combination. It seems like Gaiman prevents Pratchett from becoming too ridiculous (like in Discworld), and Pratchett prevents Gaiman from becoming too messed up.
  • I love the constant pokes and jabs at religion without actually becoming blasphemous, well, not blasphemous to me anyway, and I first read this book back when I still considered myself a Christian.
  • Being a huge fan of the band Queen, I loved how all tapes slowly turn into Best of Queen albums in the demon's car.
  • Agnes's death is hilarious.
  • I love the running gag that Elvis is still alive and flipping burgers in Des Moines.
  • The book has a nice feel-good aspect to it. It's about the end of the world, but still so upbeat. Especially the ending.

Bad

  • While it will still be very funny, a lot of the jokes probably won't make sense if you don't have a Christian background.
  • The first edition hard cover publication used a nasty typeface that made it hard to read, however, subsequent releases feature typefaces that are much easier on the eyes.
  • The 2006 re-issue uses a cute gimmick of creating two dust jacket covers (one in black with Aziraphale and one in white with Crowly). This annoys many collectors who now have to buy two copies of the book if they want a complete set.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Quotes

  • "God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players (i.e., everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
  • "It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
  • "There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. These dogs advance deliberately, purposefully, the wilderness made flesh, their teeth yellow, their breath astink, while in the distance their owners witter, "He's an old soppy really, just poke him if he's a nuisance," and in the green of their eyes the red campfires of the Pleistocene gleam and flicker... This dog would make even a dog like that slink nonchalantly behind the sofa and pretend to be extremely preoccupied with its rubber bone."
  • "The owner of a voice like that would be the sort of person who, before making a plastic model kit, would not only separate and count all the pieces before commencing, as per the instructions, but also paint all the bits that needed painting first and leave them to dry properly prior to construction. All that separated this voice from chartered accountancy was a matter of time."
  • "'It's Tchaikovsky's Another One Bites the Dust,' said Crowley, closing his eyes as they went through Slough. To while away the time as they crossed the sleeping Chilterns, they also listened to William Byrd's We Are the Champions and Beethoven's I Want To Break Free. Neither were as good as Vaughan Williams's Fat-Bottomed Girls."
  • "Crowley always found [Satanists] embarrassing. You couldn't actually be rude to them, but you couldn't help feeling about them the same way that, say, a Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighborhood Watch meetings."
  • "There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn't just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They'd come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout 'The Devil Made Me Do It' and get the sympathy of the court when the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn't have to. That was what some humans found hard to understand. Hell wasn't a major reservoir of evil, any more than Heaven, in Crowley's opinion, was a fountain of goodness; they were just sides in the great cosmic chess game. Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind."
  • "Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men."
  • "All the higher life forms scythed away, just like that." "Terrible." "Nothing but dust and fundamentalists."
  • "She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close."
  • "He didn't say 'That's weird.' He wouldn't have said 'That's weird' if a flock of sheep had cycled past playing violins. It wasn't the sort of thing a responsible engineer said."
  • "Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. Two of these were wrong..."
  • "This is how Newton Pulsifer looked as a man: if he went into a phone booth and changed, he might manage to come out looking like Clark Kent."
  • "Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: 'Learn, guys...'"
  • "When most people said 'I'm psychic, you see,' they meant 'I have an overactive but unoriginal imagination/wear black nail varnish/talk to my budgie'..."
  • "Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you."
  • "It was then that Marvin got religion. Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people's doorbells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money."
  • "'Mortals can hope for death, or for redemption. You can hope for nothing. All you can hope for is the mercy of Hell.' 'Yeah?' 'Just our little joke.'"
  • "'You're Hell's Angels... What chapter are you from, then?' 'Revelations... Chapter six.'"
  • "'Hey,' he said, but much more weakly this time, 'did any of them kids have some space alien with a face like a friendly turd in a bike basket?'"
  • "In bunkers under Novya Zemla men found that the fuses they were frantically trying to pull out came away in their hands at last; in bunkers under Wyoming and Nebraska, men in fatigues stopped screaming and waving guns at one another, and would have had a beer if alcohol had been allowed in missile bases. It wasn't, but they had one anyway."
  • "You think wars get started because some old duke gets shot, or someone cuts off someone's ear, or someone's sited their missiles in the wrong place. It's not like that. That's just, well, just reasons, which haven't got anything to do with it. What really causes wars is two sides that can't stand the sight of one another and the pressure builds up and up and then anything will cause it. Anything at all."
  • "'I don't see what's so t'riffic about creating people as people and then gettin' upset 'cos they act like people,' said Adam severely. 'Anyway, if you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive.'"
  • "'God does not play games with His loyal servants,' said the Metatron, but in a worried tone of voice. 'Whooo-eee,' said Crowley. 'Where have you been?'"
  • "There never was an apple, in Adam's opinion, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it."

Links

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