Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The novel “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman was published for the first time in 1990.

Aziraphale is an angel while Crowley is a demon, although they’re part of the opposite factions among them a sincere friendship developed and both of them enjoy their life on Earth, where they have lived for millennia. For this reason the Apocalypse is really a nuisance for them and, despite the fact that it was carefully planned since the Creation, the two them are looking for a loophole to avoid it.

The Antichrist is about to reach the age when he will start manifesting his powers and the only hope for Aziraphale and Crowley is that he grows in a way that never leads him to perform the acts needed to start the end of the world. The plan could work despite the signs of the impending Apocalypse if the child the two are trying to influence was indeed the Antichrist.

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are two well-known writers in the various speculative fiction genres, which both of whom interpreted in very personal ways. The two of them met in 1985 and after becoming friends decided to write together a novel that technically can be labeled as fantasy and horror but in fact is a comedy full of British humor. There are some basic inspirations of which “Good Omens” is a parody, such the William novel series by Richmal Crompton and above all movies such as “The Omen” – the similarity with this novel’s title is not coincidental – and there are many references to modern works of various types so recognizing them can become a game.

The idea of ​​stopping the Apocalypse is weird from the beginning in “Good Omens” because an angel and a demon are the ones who are united in wanting to avoid the end of the world. The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have been living on Earth for millennia, have become used to living among human beings and have become friends so they found together what they think is the perfect way to circumvent the divine plans but things don’t go exactly as they hoped.

The plot development is definitely over the top including a number of characters more or less weird in addition to the two protagonists. Agnes Nutter was a witch who in 1655 wrote her prophecies collected in “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” (which is also the novel’s subtitle), very precise but not really easy to interpret, so much that her descendant Anathema Device, also a witch, is still trying to understand them.

Further complications come from a group of Satanist nuns who create a number of hitches in Aziraphale’s and Crowley’s plans. Meanwhile, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are preparing to give their contribution, even if there’s a change from the past because Pestilence was replaced by Pollution.

These are just some of the elements of “Good Omens” interpreted in a highly humorous way by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman but the whole plot is used to tell funny moments. There are many characters that come and go in surreal moments so the plot often leaps from one point of view to another just to tell another of these moments.

Everything and I mean really everything is used humorously from the dramatis personae in which Crowley is described as “An angel did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards” and the witch hunter Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer is introduced to the many footnotes that are sometimes more surreal than the actual story. Honestly sometimes between digressions and footnotes I lost the thread of the plot but in “Good Omens” the story seems only an excuse to fill the novel with humor.

When “Good Omens” was published for the first time the two authors were not yet very famous but for both things changed considerably in the following years and plans for an adaptation of the novel also started. For several years there was talk of a movie directed by Terry Gilliam but the first adaptation was for the radio by the BBC. A few years ago a television adaptation was announced instead that will be made available by Amazon Video on May 31, 2019. It seems a work suitable for a mini-series, in the meantime if you like surreal comedies with supernatural elements this is a must-read.

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