According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…
This is the fourth time I have read this book, and I loved it as much as ever. I listened to the Naxos audiobook, which is read by Martin Jarvis. I loved his narration!
The plot: Is crazy! Also, it meanders all over the place. That is part of the style of humor, although it is significantly more coherent than The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
The characters – descriptions taken from the Dramatis Personae at the beginning of the book (and leaving out some characters):
Aziraphale: An Angel and part-time rare book dealer
Crowley: An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards
Apocalyptic Horsepersons: Death, War, Famine, Pollution
Agnes Nutter: A Prophetess
Anathema Device: Occultist & Professional Descendant (of Agnes Nutter)
Adam Young: The Antichrist
Them: Adam & his friends — Brian, Wensleydale, & Pepper
My favorites have always been Aziraphale and Crowley.
The writing: Is both hilarious and insightful. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“Crowley had always known that he would be around when the world ended, because he was immortal and wouldn’t have any alternative. But he hoped it was a long way off. Because he rather liked people. It was a major failing in a demon. Oh, he 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 to 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 had been times, over the past millennium, 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 to 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. One of them had written it, hadn’t he…Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
In case any other fans of the book do not know this, The Annotated Pratchett File has annotations for this book. My favorite is about this part:
“Nothing about him [Crowley] looked particularly demonic, at least by classical standards. No horns, no wings. Admittedly he was currently listening to a ‘Best of Queen’ tape, but no conclusions should be drawn from this, because all tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into ‘Best of Queen’ albums.”
The APF says:“In an interview in Comics Buyer’s Guide with Terry and Neil, shortly after the American release of Good Omens, Terry proposed the theory that, when you’re driving through the country late at night, and there’s nothing on the radio, you find yourself stopping in at an all-night gas station and looking through the tape rack; the only thing there remotely tolerable is a Best of Queen, so you buy that. Two weeks later you can’t remember how the thing got there, so you get rid of it, only to go through the same process again. Neil’s theory was that tapes really do turn into Best of Queen albums.”