SPOILERS Discussion of Good Omens, the series

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=Tamar

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When Aziraphale gets splatted with blue paint, Crowley suggests that he could just miracle the stain away. There is a spray cleaning product for removing stains called Nature's Miracle. I have no proof that there is any connection.
 

=Tamar

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That's him. He's the group of demons who get disposed of by Hastur at Megiddo - 'One big avocado".
He also brings the hellfire to heaven, because hell isn't going to risk anyone they care about. Don't be fooled by his eyelashes; he's not nice at all.
 

=Tamar

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An anonymous fan asked a question on a fan tumblr: Had Aziraphale ever been discorporated before?
The response was that since Aziraphale told the Quartermaster that his old corporation was six thousand years old, he hadn't ever actually discorporated.

But that got me to thinking. Six thousand years (give or take a few) would take him back to when he cast Adam and Eve out of Eden. At the airfield, he refers to Crowley as having been a wily _old_ serpent. That implies the war in Heaven had been some time ago even when Eden was new. Yet it seems that Aziraphale's corporation was also new at that time despite its visible age (which is not a problem, as angels, like demons, can appear in any shape and age they choose). We know Aziraphale had a military rank; he was expected to lead his platoon (confirmed by Neil Gaiman online). I think that the age comment could be interpreted to mean that Aziraphale might have been discorporated in the original war in Heaven, and that's how he knows there is a lot of paperwork involved in getting a new corporation. He was given the new one so that he could guard Eden.

Ideas? Comments?
 

RathDarkblade

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Hmm, we know Crowley was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but we don't know that he was ever discorporated. We know that Aziraphale was never discorporated (confirmed by fan tumblr).

So I'm not sure where this idea that "Aziraphale might have been discorporated" comes from.
 

=Tamar

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It comes from his own statement to the Quartermaster that his body was six thousand years old. The expulsion from Eden was specifically dated at 4004 BC. 4004 BC to 2018 is actually rather more than six thousand years. Yet Aziraphale had previous experience of the war in heaven, which was before Eden.
So he has to have been older than six thousand. Since his body was not older than that, it must have been a new one, replacing a previous one.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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Okay, this a tangent from the series, which I liked very much, but after many years I finally re-read the book version. And, while this might sound like heresy, I actually like narrative of the series much more.

The book was overwritten it too many places, particularly in the Shadwell scenes which went on forever. I also found the endless side scenes of Adam-powered myths becoming reality (like Atlantis rising) to get boring after awhile. Many of the Adam and his chums scenes just went on forever.

To me, especially after seeing the series, there wasn't enough Aziraphale and Crowley and way too much Shadwell/Ms. Tracey.

And the "resolution" of the Armaggdeon with Adam just twinkling away the Megaton(?) and Beelzebub was just boring.

Adding the Heaven and Hell scenes (and the demons and John Hamm) to the show totally opened it up and made it far more interesting. Showing Ariz and Crowley in different time periods was a great touch. And the switching places ending in the series was a great way to resolve the conflicts between Ariz and Crowley and their masters, whereas in the book it just went flat after everything returned to normal.

While it may not be easy to tell who wrote what in the book, I've read that Pterry wrote most of the Adam scenes and my guess is that he also wrote most of the Shadwell scenes. To me, the ways these scenes are written would reflect how he was writing DW books at the time (1989-1990). While he had a couple top-notch books (Guards! Guards and Mort) under his belt, he still tended to let too many scenes go on too milk the laughs and hadn't achieved the Wodehouse-level economy of style he'd reach by the mid 1990s. It would be an interesting hypothesis to see how differently the book might have been if they had written it in the late-1990s, when Pterry's grasp of narrative, plot, characterization and dialogue were approaching their peak.
 

=Tamar

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Elizabeth Callaway, a specialist in literary analysis, worked up Good Omens and found evidence in the styles of who wrote most of which parts. As they always said, each of them had a finger in each part of the book, but some were more noticeably in one's style than in the other's style (but note that each of them learned to write in the style of the other).

http://www.elizabethcallaway.net/good-omens-stylometry


I agree that for the most part the Series was an improvement. I think the emphasis in the Novel on Shadwell and Tracy was part of the focus on humans getting along despite conflicting beliefs. Several things that had not aged well were left out and others changed, in my opinion for the better. I could wish that the parts that were left out solely for lack of money could have been included, but they all had elements that would have been very hard to make clear on television and ultimately they were unnecessary.
I particularly like the more specific ending in the Series. I felt the original substitution-of-fathers in the Novel was unclear as well as anticlimactic, and it didn't deal with the likely repercussions at all. The Series is clearer.
There is still a lot of ambiguity in the Series.
 
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=Tamar

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There is a statement by Pratchett (reported somewhere by Neil Gaiman) about the writing of Good Omens, which is that they brought back characters who had died in the Novel because "nobody should die because of Adam." I take that to mean that even Ligur comes back, and there's an issue that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere. I'm referring to Atlantis.
Adam created Atlantis. If the world went back to precisely the way it was, logically Atlantis vanished. But there were people there. If Atlantis just vanished, those people died. Even if Adam decided that they had never been, they had existed in that brief moment. Adam _did_ make changes - he put classic boys' books in Aziraphale's store. In the Novel, he fixed Newton Pulsifer's car so that it worked well. pTerry said nobody died because of Adam, not even telemarketers. So I choose to head-canon that Atlantis now continues to exist, but it is in its deep-sea hidden location.
 

RathDarkblade

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But here's a problem that no-one seems to have mentioned:

If Atlantis rises from the depths - which people are living on it? Clearly "normal" people (i.e. bipeds with lungs that breathe air) couldn't have existed on Atlantis while was under the sea. Therefore, they must have adapted by growing webbed feet and learning to strain oxygen out of the water (not to mention the problem of seawater getting in their noses and eyes).

For thousands of years they'd been under the sea, and suddenly Atlantis rises into the fresh air again. :oops:

Whatever people are living on it - "normal" people, "undersea" people, or even Cthulhu-esque "minions" (maybe?) - they would not be accustomed to such a rapid change. They would need time to adapt. Someone who can breathe under the sea, but not in the air, would asphyxiate (see fish). No wonder fishermen hit fish over the head when they catch them. It's less cruel than letting them die of asphyxiation. :(

Getting back to Atlantis: how do these people adapt so quickly to living in the fresh air? Never mind asphyxiation - there's a huge change from living in the dark, bottomless sea to living in the light again. It would be like staring into the sun - unless they keep their eyes shut tight (and how would they know they had to?), they would go blind from the experience.

The change from "straining oxygen from seawater into their eyes, noses and mouths" into "breathing oxygen from the air" would also be problematic. Generally speaking, oxygen in seawater is cleaner and purer than oxygen in the air. We haven't quite polluted the sea - especially deep underwater - as much as we have polluted the air.

Hey, no wonder some people go off into the middle of the sea and try to found their own countries. The air is cleaner there! :) And we call them crazies and kooks. :p
 
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=Tamar

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Adam took care of all that. He made Atlantis and its rising survivable. In the Novel I recall a discussion of diving helmets and tightly sealed windows,and we did see some diving helmets in the Series. Possibly there were two developments among the original Atlanteans, the ones who adapted to deep-sea conditions and wore the helmets to cope with the conditions above-water, and the others, who stayed in the sealed and pressurized houses until the sunken continent rose, and then came out to see what had bumped into their land. It's theoretically possible that Adam made it so that Atlantis rose more than once, perhaps once a century, so they would have had a reason to copy the antique diving equipment they had observed. We've all heard of that advanced Atlantean science, haven't we?

Edit: In My Opinion, that is. I don't think Neil Gaiman has made any specific statements either way.
But there is a small island in the Mediterranean that rose more than once, and is watched in case that tiny underwater volcano makes it rise again. Sicily even installed an underwater flag, to be the first to claim it should it show its nose above water again.
 
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The Callaway analysis is interesting. I wonder, though, where she based the wossitsname on the works the two authors had already written or were looking beyond what they written already? I don't think it's valid to compare their styles using books that were written after GO was published. Pterry's style, in particularly changed dramatically from 1990 to his best years. And Gaiman had only published one book before GO came out (and it was a graphic novel, to boot).

What I tend to agree with in her analysis is that it really does look like Pterry did most of the actual writing, particularly in scenes with dialogue. My guess is that Gaiman was more of the ideas contributor. I would guess that all of the gods and Atlantis and mythos stuff came from him, and that Pterry ended up writing the final version of most of these scenes, except for the boring ones. I do think that some of Gaiman's ideas (or the things they developed together) found their way into future books. American Gods in particular for Gaiman, the Small Gods and Thief of Time for Pterry.
 

=Tamar

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The control books Callaway used were Moving Pictures (for PTerry) and Coraline (for Gaiman).
Moving Pictures was published in 1990, the same year that Good Omens was published. Moving Pictures was the tenth Discworld book, and it was after Guards! Guards! I think it qualifies as a representative sample of his writing at the time, and the algorithm rated it as definitely in his style.

Gaiman is a little harder to figure, because his early work was in graphic novel form. Anyone who doesn't think a graphic novel requires writing hasn't tried to create one. At the very least, they require writing dialogue. The artist draws the pictures, but the writer tells them what to draw.
I don't actually read most of Gaiman's work because I don't care for horror. Since Good Omens is not horror but skirts it in places, I think Coraline is a fair choice for style comparison, since it, too, skirts horror in places.

I checked Wikipedia and ISFDB for Gaiman's bibliography. Two eight-chapter stories in The Sandman (#1-8, Preludes And Nocturnes, #1-16, The Doll's House) are listed separately as novels by ISFDB. Both of them were published entirely in 1989. If we take a graphic novel segment as a short story, he published 22 short stories before 1990, and another eight to twelve (depending on how you count them) during 1990. That's in addition to co-authoring Good Omens. I think his style was pretty well established by then.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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I don't want to get into a debate about graphic novels and how much actual "novel writing" ability they require. But I don't think it's accurate to use a book Gaiman wrote 10 years after GO came out as a reference work. She should have used the short stories alone as a reference point, since they represented the style he was writing in 1990. And, as a published short story writer and novelist, I can tell you that styles often change over the years. Look at Pterry, for example. His first few DW books (in my opinion) were little more than attempts to mimic the Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's style in the fantasy genre, with the primary purpose being to generate laughs. As his writing style evolved, characterizations became deeper and his themes became more complex (I say that Small Gods is the turning point, and signals the start of his great period). Then he reached his masterpiece period with The FIfth Elephant, where his balance of exposition, characterization and drama peaked. And, then, tragically, in his last years, his style totally changed (to my eyes for the worse) to a really bad Victorian style for Snuff and Raising Steam.

Of course, there are many writers whose styles are ossified in their first books and never change at all. Sometimes this is good, but more often it shows a lack of development.
 

=Tamar

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When I categorized Gaiman's early work as short stories, what I meant was that they are shorter graphic stories published with others by other people in one volume. They are still graphic work, just shorter.

I still think Coraline is a reasonable choice because it's a slightly Gothic story that is not horror, and the intended approach seems to fit Gaiman's original half-a-story, "William the Antichrist", which became Good Omens. Also, it is fairly short and intended to be fairly light in parts, and as such might be considered to be roughly equivalent to the half of GO that he wrote. (For some reason I'm remembering that Gaiman said he had written the part about the Deliveryman courting Maud by the stream and going there to spoon, and that pTerry had added the line about "and on one memorable occasion, to fork.")

With regard to pTerry's earlier novels, I agree that his style developed but I also think it was a conscious decision. IMO the two SF novels he published before TCoM were not Doug-Adams pastiches. I do have some things to say about his first few Discworld novels but that should be in a different thread. Briefly, I don't think the attempt to imitate Doug Adams lasted beyond halfway through #2, The Light Fantastic. He said once that in TLF he was writing in the genre he had parodied in TCoM. By Mort he had, as he said once, "discovered the joy of plot."
IMO Equal Rites (Discworld #3) was a fast rewrite of what was originally a non-Discworld book to place it on the Disc, because that was selling. There is textual evidence within the book.
 
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I just don't think you can use a book published ten years after GO as a comparison point in a who wrote what exercise. . Styles, vocabulary change over time.

An analogy. Suppose a play that was allegedly cowritten by Shakespeare and Marlowe was found that was dated to around 1593 and scholars want to figure out whether who wrote which parts by comparing the wottsisname of the writing styles of both. For Marlowe (who got the old eye stab that year) they look at the plays he wrote before that time, but for Shakespeare they use Hamlet, which was written almost a decade later, when he was a completely different writer than the write of this early 1590s plays.

If you're going to do this kind of analysis, you have to start with what was there at the time the cowritten work was published.

Here's a more relevant comparison. What if Calloway used Thief of Time as Pterry's "control" book? Doing that might create the conclusion that all of the "four horseman" and Armageddon type stuff originated with Pterry, rather than Gaiman. Whereas, in reality, to me at least it seems clear that Gaiman, as a chronicler of deities, was much more likely the "ideas man" for the 4H (other than Death), in GO, and that Pterry later reused some of these anthropomorphic manifestations in his much funnier characterizations of the 4H in Thief of Time.
 

=Tamar

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It seems to me that the Callaway analysis supports what both authors said: that each of them wrote each part, working over each other's work until there were lines that neither of them remembered writing. They literally couldn't remember which of them had come up with some of the lines.

I do wish she had said which sources she used as her original samples. They were not necessarily the same as the control book samples.

PTerry wrote several versions of Death in his own work. The original Death in TCoM was noticeably different from Death in TLF and Mort, and very different from Death in Soul Music. There were other versions in his non-Discworld short stories. They were being serious about the 4H in GO, so they aren't funny. That doesn't necessarily mean Gaiman wrote them, only that pTerry didn't choose to make them funny in GO.

There are places where stylometry fails somewhat. For instance, it picked up the difference in style in the beginning of Pyramids. Gaiman didn't have a finger in that book; it's all pTerry (though perhaps he used a bit of Gaiman style in it - as they said in past interviews, they each learned to write in the style of the other). PTerry did say that he wrote the entire Assassins' Guild final exam segment (in the beginning of the book) in almost a kind of fugue state where it just poured out. It wasn't his usual method of writing at all.

P.S. Looking at the stylometry again, it shows that although Gaiman wrote most of the 4H, pTerry wrote more of them in the early letter delivery (War and Pollution). Gaiman wrote more of the letter delivery to Famine and Death.
 
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=Tamar

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Back to the Series: Awards are being given out.

The Tell-Tale TV Awards was voted on by the general Internet public, and people could vote once a day for their preferences ("vote early and often!" in real life). So it's a popularity contest designed to be swayed by the obsessives online who are also part of the television audience. There were, I don't know, six or eight or ten contenders in each category. Good Omens won in three categories, I learned from a tumblr site.

Good Omens won in the 2020 Tell-Tale TV Awards in categories:

Favorite Limited Series or TV Movie: Good Omens
Favorite Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie: Frances McDormand (Good Omens)
Favorite Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie: David Tennant (Good Omens)

A considerably more rigorous award system is used by the Science Fiction Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA).
They have awarded the Nebula to Good Omens Episode Three, "Hard Times".
 

=Tamar

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There is a huge amount of analysis of Good Omens on tumblr sites, both Novel and Series (and some of Radio and Musical). Yet there are topics and interpretations that I have not seen covered.
There is, for instance, admiration of Michael Sheen's microexpressions, which are read as giving emotions not otherwise expressed. If all the analyses are true, he is the greatest and subtlest actor in history. (I'm not saying he couldn't be, just that I don't watch every slight shift of expression in most cases.) In one specific example recently posted by ineffableomensgo, the 1601 scene when Aziraphale looks at Crowley and then turns away, changing from a smile to a worried look, their interpretation is that Aziraphale is panicking lest Crowley realize Aziraphale has Feelings for him. I see the expression they detailed, but my interpretation is different. I think what Aziraphale is panicking over is the idea that someone may be watching them who will report their interaction to Heaven.
And Aziraphale is correct to fear: Later (SPOILER) Michael shows three photos to Gabriel, and one of them is of that encounter in 1601.
 

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