"Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman

Have any of you read this?

I found it at the used bookstore and picked it up to give me a jumpstart on both of these authors, as I have never read anything by either one. It was said to be a “Hitchker’s Guide” successor and a hilarious take on the end of the world. I found it very clever, but certainly not laugh out loud funny (and yes, I do “get” and like British humour). It has been a while since “Hitchiker’s” and maybe I just do not like funny (peanut butter) mixed with my sci-fi/fantasy (chocolate) any longer.

How similair is the book to Pratchett’s and/or Gaiman’s solo stuff?


I enjoyed Good Omens and find it to be more in line with Pratchett’s books, especially since his Discworld series is a humorous one. I love Gaiman’s Sandman works, but his novels have not been as satisfying to me. I did enjoy his latest book called American Gods a lot though.

I liked it a lot Tyjenks. It’s a clever/goofy concept that they actually manage to keep both restrained and inventive. The silly never buries the funny.

So it is just me then. Hrmmm…The clever and inventive kept me reading and I did find it entertaining. I chuckled at several parts, but maybe I was expecting something other than what it was.

I knew Pratchet’s other works were of the sci-fi/fantasy, humorous nature. How do they compare to “Omens”, Chris?

Terry Gilliam is working on a film version of this.

I didn’t really like Good Omens all that much…I love Pratchett on his own, but I don’t care for Neil Gaiman at all. He writes like a teenager. I suppose that kind of cliched, on-the-nose stuff works for comic books, but it doesn’t work for novels, IMHO.

I’ve got to agree with that assessment of Gaiman. Never been able to get more than 50 pages into one of his novels. Something elementary about his plots and characters that doesn’t interest me, let alone engage me. Not a fan of his comic work, either. Seems to be one of those guys you either love or hate, a lot like Grant Morrison (someone I’m starting to really hate, after wasting ten bucks on the first two issues of The Filth).

But don’t listen to me. I’m finding it harder and harder to get into fiction these days. Even books that I objectively know are good – like Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm – I have trouble sticking with. The Ice Storm is great, but I put it down around page 75 three weeks ago and started into some nonfiction. Anyone else having/had this problem as they get/got older? It’s starting to really annoy me.

I enjoy Good Omens, especially the jokes centering on religion, the Adam parts were a bit annoying now and then though.
I really like Pratchett’s other stuff too, which quite often is satire, set on a fantasy world which is a stereotypical fantasy world but with real people, which makes it interesting. I also think he might be remembered as a great philosopher of our time or something.

I’m wondering now if I liked Good Omens so much just because of the clever riffs on religion. I liked the almost vaudvillian set up between the two main characters as well. I’m wondering this now because Sparky really nailed something I’ve always felt about Gaiman but never really have been able to articulate. I like The Sandman and feel that as a comic writer he’s fantastic, but there was something fundamental about Neverwhere that bothered/bored me. I wonder why Alan Moore hasn’t written any novels. I just re-read From Hell and the annotations made me think it would have been even stronger as a novel.

The interaction between Crowley and Aziraphale (sp?) was great. I also enjoyed the Agnes Nutter Prophecies aspect of the story. The idea that they had been passed down and researched for hundreds of years was a good one. There was so much more that could have been done with the Witchfinder Army storyline and Adam growing up. I think that was my main gripe. I was waiting for pay-offs in some of the storylines that never came. Unlike most books which drone on for too long IMO, I think Good Omens was short and not developed enough. I guess that goes along with the rapid comedic riffs that the book was written around. I suppose, it would have been a whole different book if it was developed further as I suggested.

P.S. And when Dog came around. Yeah, it was funny that he took on the characteristics of a little “yip, yip” dog, but I wanted him to be doing little evil things throughout. Like burning cats with Hellfire and the like.

“Neverwhere” just pissed me off – what a complete waste of an interesting idea/setting. The characters were so one-dimensional: bad guys who we know are VERY bad, because there’s a scene where they bite the heads off kittens! The quirky-yet-cute girl with mysterious powers and murdered parents, hellbent on revenge! The unlikely hero who doesn’t know why he’s in a mysterious new world! All put together like something a Gothling scrawled in her Hot Topic “Emily” notebook while listening to Switchblade Symphony. And “Stardust” was just a book of Celtic fairy tales chewed up, regurgitated, and embellished with jokes that were old the last ten times Piers Anthony used them. It would be better if Gaiman just drew the outlines of his ideas and let someone else fill in the text balloons, so to speak.

Sparky, honestly, how do you remember so much about Neverwhere? You’re right about it being underdeveloped, but I can’t remember anything concrete about it save for it sort of being a grimy Alice in Wonderland riff. Come to think of it, I only remember a vague distaste for the book and nothing else.
I think Gaiman might prefer I actively hated and, well, remembered it to how I actually feel/don’t feel about that one. I hear there’s a movie or something in development. Goodie.

I still want to check out American Gods though. If only for the concept.

Terry Gilliam has been working on the film version of this for innumerable years. It’s a project almost destined never to see the light of day.

Funny story - Hollywood cottoned onto how good “Mort” by Pratchett was. They decided that it might make a good movie as long as, and this is the best part, “they lost the Death angle”. Thank god it never surfaced.

Tyjenks wrote

I knew Pratchet’s other works were of the sci-fi/fantasy, humorous nature. How do they compare to “Omens”, Chris?

I find Pratchett’s Discworld stuff to be hit or miss. I haven’t read all of them but found the books concerning the City Watch to be the most entertaining, particularly Guards! Guards! The books featuring Granny Weatherwax and Rincewind usually play out as a long joke that becomes tiresome in the end. I prefered Omens to the majority of Pratchett’s work that I’ve read.

The TV show was excruciating. Appalling acting, very staged sets (“Yes! We have a smoke machine! And by GOD, we are going to use it!”), a miserable excuse for a storyline - I don’t know if the comics were any better, but this one was thoroughly predictable from the word “Stop!”.

That was like a BBC only show, was it not?

It may have been passed overseas, but yeah, it was a BBC masterpiece. The Gormenghast of its day in many ways - a lot of attempt at style and fantasy, but without much budget (at least, I hope not - that’s their excuse out of the window if they did) or success.

“Oh, heaven…I’m in heaven…I can’t master basic irony and I look like a fool on this sub Red Dwarf set wearing a sheet that I hope we didn’t steal from the hotel…but hey…I’m in heaven…”

I thought Gormenghast was charming in spite of the low budget. The attempts at computer compositing (looked like they did it on an Amiga!) were awful, but the costumes were lovely and they used quality actors (Stephen Fry, Fiona Shaw, Christopher Lee). They got the gloomy, despondent tone of the tale dead on. Compared to all those tacky big-budget “spectaculars” like “Merlin” that US network TV offers, I thought Gormenghast showed what you could do with a small budget, talent, and a lot of gumption.

The bit of “Neverwhere” I saw, however, was crap – but the story they had to work with was crap, unlike Mervyn Peake’s story.

I just couldn’t take it seriously - and I attribute a lot of it to the overly-theatrical acting and the feeling that every scene had a totally different director. Lines like “THIS…CASTLE…EJECTS…YOU!” (or something of that ilk) were hysterically badly delivered, as was much of Steerpike’s talking - going from menacing to pantomime. Also, I hadn’t read the original, but I spent most of the show looking at my watch and wishing for Steerpike to hurry up a bit. Maybe if it had been a stage show instead I’d have been more lenient.

Neverwhere though…Gah…