Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

With the Amazon series swiftly approaching I thought I had better, finally, pull my finger out and read Good Omens, by authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I admire both authors greatly, and I am, in retrospect, somewhat surprised at myself for not having read it earlier.

I picked the book off my ‘unread’ pile (a teetering stack as is only good and natural) somewhere shortly after Christmas, and it didn’t take me long to chew through to the end. My initial thoughts, after the first few pages, were ‘why did this take me so long?’, and for that I’m sorry to say, I have no good answer.

This is a book about the apocalypse, the biblical one, in case anyone was wondering about ancient Mayans and alien invasions (though they are all in there somewhere). It’s also about the apocalyptic bungling of the apocalypse, with the major players all stumbling (and sometimes reeling, staggering, fumbling, and doddering) from one catastrophic and unforeseen muck-up to the next.

As I read the first few pages, the combination of writing style, twists of imaginative force, humour, and humanity, all felt so familiar, I am a great lover of both author’s other works after all. Familiar and not in a tired way, the sort of familiarity that breeds bored disinterest, but the familiarity of relaxing with an old friend. The familiarity of wriggling into a well worn armchair with a favourite drink at hand. It was embracing, comfortable, and absolutely wonderful.

I really don’t want to spoil this book by giving away too much, though I seem to be one of the last people on Earth to have decided it’s finally time to crack the cover. So suffice to say only that Good Omens is a book full of humour (as we would expect), wisdom, and heart. All these are present in abundance.

It never ceases to amaze me the way these two authors manage to shine a light on, or otherwise highlight, the foibles of our all-too human selves. All our strengths masked as the fumbling and general intention to do right or the dogged stupidity of never giving up. All our weaknesses gently mocked and placed in contexts that reveal them as the absurdities they are. There are messages throughout this book, perhaps more relevant today than when it was first penned (Pollution replacing Pestilence in the Four Horsemen quartet of the end times, being the most obvious).

All in all Good Omens is a wonderful book, one I was glad to read and gently angry with myself for not having read sooner. I am looking forward to the Amazon series greatly. Though I believe they must have had a hell of a job (no joke intended) in getting all the aliens, Atlanteans, Tibetan Monks, Witch Hunters, Bikers of Apocalypse, hell-hounds, demons, and angels lined up for shooting-wrap cast photo.

It will be fun!