The Amusing Apocalypse? Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Stories about the apocalypse are usually filled with supernatural darkness and suspense. And justifiably so. I mean, we are talking about the end of the world. Why would it not be scary and dreadful? This is why Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett‘s co-authored book pleasantly surprised me with their masterpiece Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.

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The story follows the attempt of two supernatural beings, an angel and a demon, as they go behind the backs of heaven and hell in an attempt to save the world from Armageddon. This book is one of the most amusing books I’ve ever read. It’s filled to the brim with satire, sarcasm and wacky unconventional humour that leaves you in tears.

This is, of course, an acquired taste. Not everyone would appreciate the sense of humour that these two authors have applied. Certain events or stories in particular parts of the world have been depicted in an absurd manner. But this cannot hide the wisdom the book emits as well.

“Why are we talking about this good and evil? They’re just names for sides. We know that.”

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What makes this book stand out from other works of fantasy I’ve read is that it doesn’t work on the lines of good and evil. Instead, it just tries to show you how absurd reality (and every situation in reality) actually is. The book forces us to acknowledge the grey area that exists from blending the absurd with reality till there is no choice but to admit that each element is present in both extremes. 

One of the best instances where Gaiman and Pratchett have shown how utterly absurd it is to even have a binary is by how the two protagonists are introduced. What is brilliant in the framing of these characters is that they are depicted with the exact characteristics which we associate with angels and demons. But these are projected as null with the other loud personality traits that they possess. 

This is how Crowley, the demon is introduced in the book:

“Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards).”

Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman | Saturday ...

On the other hand, his companion, Aziraphale is introduced in a significantly different way:

“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 treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide.”

Good Omens was a book before its time. Gaiman himself admitted that the book seems more relevant now than 30 years ago when it was released. From drawing constant references from the greatest hits of Queen, to the strong sense of queer identity and liberalistic thoughts and ideas, the book seems to project more to the current generation and age. And all this while, the novel mocks the foundations that society depends upon. 

Sheen as Aziraphale and Tennant as Crowley on the set of the TV adaptation of Good Omens

The mess upon which reality is set makes us question why we even care to take the world seriously. A small careless accident and some miscommunication creates the most humorous apocalypse in the world.

In a reality like that, where mistakes cannot be avoided, what is the point of not embracing the absurd situations that they lead to but instead worry over them? Isn’t the very idea of an apocalypse, absurd to begin with–the existence of an entire planet coming to an end?

And in such a picture, why worry when you can laugh?

About the Author

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Uma Anilkumar is captivated by new, interesting ideas, especially that of pop culture and is always in search of learning something new.  A lover of all kinds of art, she is a writer and poet during her free time and dreams of publishing her own work in the future.

 

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2 thoughts

  1. Wow, a wonderful book for reading and a great article with a message to ponder about… With so many new ideas, uncertainties and modern perspectives to look at life, the message is a remarkable one. Loved the article, especially the line:
    “The mess upon which reality is set makes us question why we even care to take the world seriously.”
    True enough!

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