Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (re-read)

Another one of Roommate's ease-into-fantasy purchases. A much better one in my opinion. A classic, in fact.

I first read Good Omens: The Nice And Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch back in the mid-90's, in college, while lying on my single futon in the 6' X 8' bedroom of my fourth floor walk-up in Harlem. Ah, the good ol' days. I was working in the East Village at St. Mark's Comics and had fallen in love with Neil Gaiman's Sandman series of graphic novels. Good Omens lore-- substantiated by the authors' notes in the back of the book-- is that the story began as a short story that Gaiman started and couldn't finished; the young journalist sent it to Terry Pratchett-- already doing well as an author-- who promptly ignored it for a year. When he dug it out again, he said that he couldn't finish it, per se, but he could imagine what happened next...

This seamlessly co-authored book supposes that the Antichrist has been born, Armageddon is in a few days, and what would happen if the agents of Hell and Heaven on earth decide that they just don't feel like bringing about the end of the world?

Aziraphale (heaven) and Crowley (hell) have been adversaries for millenia, but when the End Times are just days away, they decide that it is humanity itself, and the constant struggle between good and evil, that has made life (such as it is) worth living. Should the Rapture come, the War would begin, a Victor would be declared-- where's the fun in that?

Hilarious, along a distinctly British humor/absudist vein, and stunningly well written, Good Omens exceeds any novel written by either novelist alone (and I do LOVE both Gaiman and Pratchett's works). The only complaint I can imagine is the sometimes cluttered-feeling huge cast of characters. There's Anethema, the modern witch. Adam Young, 11 year old AntiChrist. Warlock, who's supposed to be the AntiChrist. Agnes Nutter, the author of the titular prophecies. The four bikers of the Apocolypse. Several witchfinders. A bevy of rebellious children. The list of major characters takes up two full pages.

The authors notes mentions the lack of a sequel to a book that just cries out for a sequel and alludes that one may very well be forthcoming. Part of my holds my breath, and part of me worries. While Pratchett has sucessfully produced close to twenty books in the Discworld series-- all of which that I've read have been great-- and Gaiman kept the Sandman franchise fresh until the end, I was disappointed by Anansi Boys, the sequel to Gaiman's stupendous American Gods. There's nothing like holding one's breath for a sequel only to have it let you down (she says as she counts down the days to the next Harry Potter and whispers a tiny prayer for brilliance).

1 comment:

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