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16 March 2012

'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Funny, weird, irreverent, insightful and just a bit warped, in fact, this book contains everything I love about these two writers.  Years and years ago when I was just reading Pratchett I saw this book and thought "what a lucky guy, that Gaiman".  I had no idea that the lucky one is me.

Ok.  So 'Good Omens' describes the apocalypse led by an anti-christ that has a better idea.  Angels, demons, Bentleys, prophets and witch hunters all make an appearance.  I am rather pleased to note how well these two writers know Faust and the Book of Revelations along with tons of other historical details. You don't have to know these topics to enjoy the book but plenty of jokes have added depth if you do.

Right around the time I was finishing 'Good Omens' my daughter heard some sad news on the radio.  She reflected on how it is unfair that one man can ruin the life of 20 people and then affect the life of a 100 more if you include relatives and loved ones.  She was right, of course.  It is sad and short-sighted unkindness, carelessness, jealousy or greed that can cause a great deal of pain.  But then, inspired by this book, I pointed out that the opposite is also true.  An act of kindness can also affect 100 people.  It just does not make the news.

How would I design paradise?  What would I destroy? and more importantly; what would I create?  The apocalypse is justified in scriptures by Justice and renewed paradise.  It is an exclusive club that survives the apocalypse.  'Good Omens' points out, quite well, that we all have our own view of Paradise.   We all have our exclusive club members that will include certain people but is not limited to a favorite car, a beloved garden and definitely a favorite pet.  Is paradise bearable without your cat?  Ok.  But the apocalypse implies even-handed justice and maybe your cat dug in the neighbors's garden one too many times, well, you get my drift.

So what is the solution?  I am ignoring the apocalypse, we should clean our own mess.  As I said to my daughter, "always take the opportunity to do good"... be kind, give someone a smile, help and show gratitude.  You never know how far goodness will go.  Don't try to save the whole world and don't be too quick to judge that hurtful man.  Save your friends, save your own park and encourage your parents to change the types of lightbulbs they use.

If everyone made their own small paradise without hurting others then... well... no Four Riders leading an enthusiastic sanitation army necessary.  We are so powerful, ask any quantum physicist, but also so lazy.  Right... tomorrow I take those bottles to the recycling bin.

ISBN: 9780575080485


  1. Anonymous22:38

    i wonder if i have enough goodness in me for my own paradise. or will i need to be invited to another better person's paradise? not to mention the whole concept of heaven/hell/purgatory/paradise. will paradise include nature, art, literature, physical pleasure, loved ones? or will it be something we cannot imagine?

    1. Paradise by definition is bespoke. Otherwise, to spend eternity in a generic, one size fits all place full of deserving "Mrs. Bennetts" is definitely my idea of hell. Go on, create your own heaven in your head and then live your life as if you were in this paradise already, then it will became a reality. By all means include art, music,your favorite restaurant and long dead pet hamster.