Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a novel that was written as a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in 1990. It’s a funny, entertaining book about friendship and appreciating humanity. I find it fitting that friends wrote the story together.

The book’s premise is that the end of the world is near. The final battle between Good and Evil will occur according to the Divine Plan. The Antichrist is born and delivered to a hospital in England, and he will be raised by an American diplomat.

An angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley must play their assigned roles, but they don’t want to. They’ve lived on Earth among humans for so long that they enjoy it, and they don’t want to world to end. Beyond that, after being enemies for 6,000 years, they’ve ended up becoming friends.

So together, Crowley and Aziraphale decide to sabotage the end of the world, or at least postpone it so that they have more time. They plan to help raise the Antichrist so that he can’t tell the difference between Good and Evil. But the problem is, they lose track of the baby. Meanwhile, the Antichrist Adam Young ends up growing up in Lower Tadfield, an idyllic English village.

Chaos ensues as Aziraphale and Crowley try to locate the Antichrist, and the armies of Good and Evil amass their forces. The story is full of humor and was a fun read.

Along with making me smile, the book made me reflect. Maybe it’s appropriate that I read this book during this time while living in Portland, OR during the pandemic. As I read about the horsemen, I realized that I’ve felt that all four were at my door during the past years.

War – The city has been destroyed by riots and fighting between protesters and the police, Antifa and the Proud Boys, and political and class warfare. Helicopters circled overhead for months. You could hear the sounds of anger and flash-bang grenades on the streets. Stores are still boarded up and closed.

Famine – The homeless crisis in Portland has been unbearable with people living in squalor in tents on sidewalks. During covid, this escalated, and at the start of this year, there were probably more people living in tents within a block of my apartment building than there were tenants in my building itself. So many people who lived downtown left the city (and even the state) in a mass urban flight.

Pestilence/Pollution – Of course, covid. And beyond that, there were massive wildfires during the first year of the pandemic that made the sky appear yellow and orange. Ash fell from above like snow. Last summer’s heat dome here in the Pacific Northwest shattered temperature records. These events were not good omens.

Death – Death has seemed to hover so close at hand with so many people sick and dying worldwide during the pandemic. I’ve had family members who have been sick with covid. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve had recurring dreams of a friend who died unexpectedly. Sometimes, I feel like his ghost wants to talk to me.

I wouldn’t have thought to compare these events and experiences in my own life to the four horsemen of the apocalypse if not for reading this book. What a strange, eerie feeling to recognize such similarities between fiction and life.

If only I tried to dispel the horsemen with a sword crafted from twigs and twine, a handmade pair of scales, and a crown of grasses and flowers…

Sometimes you read books when you need them, and stories help you heal. That’s what this book did for me in reminding me of the power of small actions and finding a way to laugh and smile when it feels like the end is near.

Adam was right. There’s more to do, see, imagine, learn, and explore. There’s joy in being human. And there’s more living to do. There are friends to find and care for—even angels and demons. In this world, nothing is set in stone. Change is always possible.

Purchase and read books by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman The Color of Magic: A Discworld Novel by Terry Pratchett

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