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Book: Good Omens

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I liked this book, though I haven't disliked anything I've read that Neil Gaiman has been involved with that I've read or watched, so perhaps I'm biased. Imagine a really British version of the Apocalypse, where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse are bikers and the snake from the Garden of Eden drives a Bently. It's downright ridiculous, and plenty funny for it. I was a bit let down by the ending, but such is the way of the Apocalypse.

DISCLAIMER: read no further if you haven't read the book, outline/quotes below.

Characters

Aziraphale - angel, part-time rare book dealer.  Close relationship
with Crowley.  Says "ineffable" a lot.  Collects misprintings of the bible.

Crowley/Crawley - the serpent, "An Angel who did not so much as Fall
as Saunter Vaguely Downwards." Close relationship with Aziraphale,
which involves him trying to tempt Aziraphale with the knowledge that
all the good music is in Hell.  Has lived on earth for quite awhile
and has become accustomed to it.  Allusion to Aliester Crowley?

Newton Pulsifer

Anathema Device

Warlock, Baby A

Nanny Ashtoreth, nanny to Warlock. pg. 53

Francis, gardener Warlock's family. pg. 53

Mr. Harrison and Mr. Cortese, instructors to Warlock.  pg. 55

Hastur and Ligur, Dukes of Hell.  Intro pg. 7.

Sable/Famine, the diet book author. pg. 48

Scarlett/War, the arms dealer. pg. 45

Another/Death, working everywhere. pg. 51

Mr. White/Pollution, the oil tanker polluter. pg. 51


Themes:

Humans are different from angels and demons in that they have free
will.

Outline:

p. 5

     Many phenomena -- wars, plauges, sudden audits -- have been
advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of
Man, but whenever students of domonology get together the M25 London
orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders
for Exhibit A.
     Where they go wrong, of course, is in assuming that the wretched
road is evil simply because of the incredible carnage and frustration
it engenders every day.
     In fact, very few people on the face of the planet know that the
very shape of the M25 forms the sign odegra in the language
of the Black Priesthood of Ancient Mu, and means "Hail the Great
Beast, Devourer of Worlds."
     
p. 9

...With five billion people in the world you couldn't pick the buggers
off one by one any more; you had to spread your effort.  But demons
like Ligur and Hastur wouldn't understand.  They'd never have thought
up Welsh-language television, for example.  Or value-added tax.  Or
Manchester.

p. 23

     "Wormwood's a nice name," said the nun, remembering the
classics. "Or Damien.  Damien's very popular."

p. 23

Anathema Device -- her mother, who was not a great student of
religious matters, happened to read the word one day and thought it
was a lovely name for a girl -- was eight and a half years old, and
she was reading The Book, under the bedclothes, with a torch.

p. 24

     "I tell ye thif, and I charge ye with my wordes.  Four shalle
ryde, and Four shalle alfo ryde, and Three sharl ryde the Skye as
twixt, and Wonne shal ryde in flames; and theyr shall be no stopping
themme: not fish, nor rayne, nor rode, neither Deville nor Angel.  And
ye shalle be theyr alfo, Anathema."

p. 26

    Oh, [Crowley] did his best to make their short lives miserable,
because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as
bad as the stuff they thought up themselves.  They seemed to have a
talent for it.  It was built into the design, somehow.  They were born
into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then
devoted most of their energies making it worse.  Over the years
Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic
to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized
nastiness.  There has been times, over the past millenium, when he'd
felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look, we may as well
give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and
everywhere and move up here, there's nothing we can do to them that
they don't do themselves and they do things we've never even thought
of, often involving electrodes.  They've got what we lack.  They've
got imagination.  And electricity, of course.
p. 54

Nursery rhymes for Warlock

p. 69

The naming of Dog

p. 73

     It is said that the Devil has all the best tunes.
     This is broadly true.  But, Heaven has the best choreographers.

p. 74

     Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked.
This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.

p. 81

     "You see, evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction,"
said the angel.  "It is ultimately negative, and therefore encompasses
it downfall even at its moments of apparent triumph.  No matter how
grandiose, how well-planned, how apparently foolproof an evil plan,
the inherent sinfulness will by definition rebound upon its
instigators.  No matter how apparently successful it may seem upon the
way, at the end it will wreck itself.  It will founder upon the rocks
of iniquity and sink headfirst to vanish without a trace into the seas
of oblivion."
p. 84

Battle with the paintball management training session.

p. 100

Aziraphale starts reading the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of
Agnes Nutter
.

p. 102

Carmine Zuigiber, war correspondent.
p. 118

     "But we can't be the Spanish Inquisition," said Wensleydale.
"We're not Spanish."

     "I bet you don't have to be Spanish to be the Spanish
Inquisition," said Adam.  "I bet it's like Scottish eggs or American
hamburgers.  It just has to look Spanish.  We've just got to make it
look Spanish.  Then everyone would know that its the Spanish
Inquisition.
p. 125

Adam meets Anathema

p. 137

Raven Sable, of the Newtrition Company.
p. 147

     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.  Heaven is not in England, whatever certain poets
may have thought, and angels are sexless unless they really want to
make an effort.  But he was intelligent.

p. 150

    Good old International Codes.  They'd been devised eighty
years before, but the men in those days had really thought hard about
the kind of perils that might possibly be encountered on the deep.
    He picked up his pen and wrote down: "XXXV QVVX."
    Translated, it meant: "Have found Lost Continent of Atlantis.
High Priest had just won quoits contest."

p. 162

Newt had always supected that people who regularly used the word
"community" were usint it in a very specific sense that excluded him
and everyone he knew.

p. 162

     Then he's tried believing in the Universe, which seemed sound
enough until he'd innocently started reading new books with words like
Chaos and Time and Quantum in the titles.  He'd found that even the
people whose job of work was, so to speak, the Universe, didn't really
believe in it and were actually quite proud of not knowing what it
really was or even if it could theoretically exist.

p. 163

...Sometimes, when he'd nursed a half pint of Guinness on a Saturday
night, Shadwell would stand in the corridor between their rooms and
shout things like "Hoor of Babylon!" but she told Newt privately that
she'd always felt rather gratified about this even though the closest
she'd been to Babylon was Torremolinos.  It was like free advertising,
she said.

p. 165

Shadwell hated all southerners and, by inference, was standing at the
North Pole
p. 172

Delivery made to Pollution, along the river Uck

p. 174

Finally delivery made to Death

p. 182

Aliens land in Tadfield
p. 192

3819. When Orient's chariot inverted be, four wheles in the skye, a
man with bruises be upon Youre Bedde, achinge his hedd for willow
fine, a manne who testeth with a pyn yette his hart be clene, yette
seed of myne own undoing, take the means of flame from himme for to
mayk ryght certain, together ye sharle be, untyl the Ende that is to
come.

p. 198

3988. Whene menne of crocus come from the Earth and green manne frome
thee Sky, yette ken not why, and Pluto's barres quitte the lighting
riseth, and Leviathan runneth free, and Brazil is vert, then Three
cometh together and Four arise, upon iron horses ride; I tell you the
ende draweth nigh.

p. 204

2315. Sum say It cometh in London Town, or New Yorke, butte they be
Wronge, for the plase is Taddes Fild, Stronge inne hys powr, he cometh
like a knight inne the fief, he divideth the Worlde into 4 partes, he
bringeth the storme.
p. 210

Rainforest regrow in Brazil
p. 213

3477. Lette the wheel of Fate turne, let harts enjoin, there are
othere fyres than mine; when the wynd blowethe the blossoms, reach
oute one to anothere, for the calm cometh when Redde and Whyte and
Blacke and Pale approache to Peas is our Prefessioune.

p. 214

     The Recording Angel won't have any trouble with me, my life must
have been dittoes on every page for years.  I mean, what have I ever
really done? I've never robbed a bank.  I've never had a parking
ticket.  I've never even eaten Thai food --
p. 219

Aziraphale meets Metatron, who's like a Presidential spokesman.
p. 224

Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if
the machine 1) didn't work, 2) didn't do what the expensive
advertisements said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighborhood, 4)
and in fact failed entirely to be inside the expensive box when you
opened it, this was expressly, absolutely, implicitly and in no event
the fault or responsibility of the manufacturer, that the purchaser
should consider himself lucky to be allowed to give his money to the
manufacturer, and that any attempt to treat what had just been paid
for as the purchaser's own property would result in the attentions of
serious men with menacing briefcases and very thin watches.  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."

p. 225

...every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was
growing too slowly, or succumbing to leaf-wilt or browning, or just
didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around
to all the other plants. "Say goodbye to your friend," he'd say to
them. "He just couldn't cut it..."
     Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return
an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would
leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.
     The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in
London.  Also the most terrified.

p. 226

He was very proud of his collection.  It had taken him ages to put
together.  This was real Soul Music.  James Brown wasn't in
it.

p. 229

     Now, as Crowley would be the first to protest, most demons
weren't deep down evil.  In the great cosmic game they felt
they occupied the same position as tax inspectors -- doing an
unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall opreation of the
whole thing...
p. 242

The Hell's Angels Four Horsemen get together.
p. 246

"'Ere, I seen you before," he said. "You was on the cover of that Blue
Oyster Cult album.  An' I got a ring wif... your... your... your head
on it."

p. 247

The Them huddled togther, staring at Adam.  He seemed bigger, somehow.
Dog sat and growled.  He was thinking of all the smells he would lose.
There were no smells in Hell, apart from the sulphur.  While some of
them here, were, were... well, the fact was, there were no bitches in
Hell either.
p. 256

Big Ted -> Greivous Bodily Harm (GBH)

Greaser -> Cruelty to Animals

Pigbog -> Really Cool People

Skuzz -> Embarassing Personal Problems (EPP) -> Things Not Working
Properly Even After You've Thumped Them -> No Alcohol Lager
p. 266

     Anathema shrugged, not an easy move when you're pulling on a
sensible black skirt. "She said we only did it this once."
     Newt read it and blushed and gave it back, tight-lipped.
     It wasn't simply the fact that Agnes had known, and had expressed
herself in the most transparent of codes.  It was that, down the ages,
various Devices had scrawled encouraging remarks in the margin.
p. 270

Things Not Working Properly Even When You've Given Them a Good
Thumping -> All Foreigners Especially The French -> Treading in
Dogshit
p. 277

     And that was where it all fell apart.
     Because, underneath it all, Crowley was an optimist.  If there
was one rock-hard certainty that had sustained him though the bad
times -- he thought briefly of the fourteenth century -- then it was
utter surety that he would come out on top; that the universe would
look after him.

p. 280

     But, to look on the bright side, all this only went to prove tht
evil contains the seeds of its own destruction.  Right now, across the
country, people who would otherwise have been made that little bit
more tense and angry by being summoned from a nice bath, or having
their names mispronounced at them, were instead feeling quite
untroubled and at peace with the world.  As a result of Hastur's
action a wave of low-grade goodness started to spread exponentially
through the population, and millions of people who ultimately would
have suffered minor bruises of the soul did not in fact do so. So that
was all right.

p. 283

     It would take a lot to faze a copper from the Met.
     It would take, for example, a huge, battered car that was nothing
more nor less than a fireball, a blazing, roaring twisted metal lemon
from Hell, driven by a grinning lunatic in sunglasses, sitting amid
the flames, trailing thick black smoke, coming straight at them
through the lashing rain and the wind at eighty miles per hour.
     That would do it every time.

p. 292

     In every big-budget science fiction movie there's the moment when
a spaceship as large as New York suddenly goes to light speed.  A
twanging noise like a wooden ruler being plucked over the edge of a
desk, a dazzling refraction of light, and suddenly the starts have all
been stretched out thin and it's gone.  This was exactly like that,
except that instead of a gleaming twelve-mile-long spaceship, it was
an off-white twenty-year-old motor scooter...
     
p. 295

     "So computers are the tools of the Devil?" thought Newt.  He had
no problem believing it.  Computers had to be the tools of
somebody, and all he knew for certain was that it definitely
wasn't him.

p. 308

Albrecht Durer didn't waste his time doing woodcuts of the Four
Button-Pressers of the Apocalypse, I do know that.
p. 311

The Four Bikers start the Apocalypse
p. 335

     "But the Great Plan can only be a tiny part of the overall
ineffability," said Crowley. "You can't be certain that what's
happening right now isn't exactly right, from an ineffable point of
view."

p. 351

And there was the matter of Dick Turpin. It looked like the same car,
except that forever afterwards it seemed able to do 250 miles on a
gallon of petrol, ran so quietly that you had to put your mouth over
the exhaust pipe to see if the engine was firing, and issued its
voice-synthesized warnings in a series of exquisite and
perfectly-phrased haikus, each one original and apt...

     Late frost burns the bloom
     Would a fool not let the belt
     Restrain the body?

... it would say, And,

     The cherry blossom
     Tumbles from the highest tree.
     One needs more petrol.

p. 361

    Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell took a long, deep drink of Guinness,
and he popped the question.
     Madame Tracy giggled. "Honestly, you old silly," she said and she
blushed a deep red. "How many do you think?"
     He popped it again.
     "Two," said Madame Tracy.
     

Comments (6)

Andy Glynn:

I loved that book.

Anetka:

Me too :-)

Samanta Almaguer:

awesome book, had me giggling in the middle of class, (which might not had been a good thing) so it's definetly worth reading, Crowley and Aziraphale as good a team as Gaiman and Pratchett,... the point is... the point is... the point i'm trying to make is... is the dolphins.

kwc:

I've picked up a bunch of Terry Pratchett books recently (I've already read most of Gaiman's stuff now). Hopefully they'll make me laugh as much as this book.

Rissa:

I have every one of the Discworld books, but Good Omens beats them effortlessly. I've read it to death - the cover's unrecognisable from cracks, bends, being sat on, being dropped, getting wet, being read in the bath... well, you know what happens to well-loved books.

Aziraphale would have a fit.

Toby:

"the cover's unrecognisable from cracks, bends, being sat on, being dropped, getting wet, being read in the bath.."


as it should be!
brilliant book.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on December 9, 2003 11:50 PM.

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