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Good Omens  
Goodomenscover.jpg
1st edition cover
Author Terry Pratchett
& Neil Gaiman
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy
Comedy
Publisher Gollancz (UK) / Workman (US)
Publication date May 1, 1990
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 288 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-575-04800-X
OCLC Number 21299949

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990) is a World Fantasy Award nominated[1] novel written in collaboration between the English authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

The book is a comedy and a quasi-parody of the 1976 film The Omen (as well as other books and films of the genre), concerning the birth of the son of Satan, the coming of the End Times and the attempts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley to avert them, having become accustomed to their comfortable situations in the human world. A subplot features the gathering of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse — War, Famine, Pollution (Pestilence having retired in 1936 following the discovery of penicillin), and Death — the last of whom is characterised in a manner reminiscent of the personification of Death in Pratchett's Discworld novels and calls himself Azrael before his final exit.

Contents

Plot summary

It is the coming of the End Times: The Apocalypse is near, and Final Judgment will soon descend upon the human race. This comes as a bit of bad news to the angel Aziraphale (who was the angel of the Garden of Eden) and the demon Crowley (who, when he was originally named Crawly, was the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the apple), respectively the representatives of God and Satan on Earth, as they've actually gotten quite used to living their cozy, comfortable lives and, in a perverse way, actually have taken a liking to humanity. As such, since they're both good friends (despite supposedly being polar opposites, representing Good and Evil as they do), they decide to work together and keep an eye on the Antichrist, destined to be the son of a prominent American diplomat stationed in Britain, and thus ensure he grows up in a way that means he can never decide simply between Good and Evil and, therefore, postpone the end of the world.

Unfortunately, Warlock, the child everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ is, in fact, a perfectly normal eleven-year-old boy. Owing to a bit of a switch-up at birth, the real Anti-Christ is in fact Adam Young, a charismatic and slightly otherworldly eleven-year-old who, despite being the harbinger of the Apocalypse, has lived a perfectly normal life as the son of typical English parents and, as a result, has no idea of his true powers. As Adam blissfully and naively uses his powers, creating around him the world of Just William (because he thinks that's what an English child's life should be like), the race is on to find him—the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse assemble and the incredibly accurate (yet so highly specific as to be useless) prophecies of Agnes Nutter, seventeenth-century prophetess, are rapidly coming true.

Agnes Nutter was a witch in the 17th century and the only truly accurate prophet to have ever lived. She wrote a book called The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, a collection of prophecies that did not sell very well because they were unspectacular, cryptic and, ironically enough, all true. She, in fact, decided to publish it only so that she could receive a free copy as the author. There is only one copy of the book left, which belongs to her descendant Anathema Device. Agnes was burned at the stake by a mob (because that's what mobs did at that time); however, because she had foreseen her fiery end ("ye're tardy; I should have been aflame ten minutes since") and had packed 80 pounds of gunpowder and 40 pounds of roofing nails into her petticoats, everyone who participated in the burning was killed instantly.

In the end, Anathema teams up with Newton Pulsifer, the descendant of the man who initiated the burning of Agnes, to use the prophesies and find the Antichrist. Unfortunately, that is exactly what everyone else is trying to do, and time is running out.

See also

References

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams is referenced several times in Crowley's bad memories of the 14th Century. In Dirk Gently, Professor Chronotis says, "Most of the fourteenth century was rather grim." In 1988, Gaiman authored Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion.

Authorship

Gaiman and Pratchett had known each other since 1985 and it was their own idea, not that of their publisher, to collaborate on a novel.[2]

Neil Gaiman has said:

We were both living in England when we wrote it. At an educated guess, although neither of us ever counted, Terry probably wrote around 60,000 "raw" and I wrote 45,000 "raw" words of Good Omens, with, on the whole, Terry taking more of the plot with Adam and the Them in, and me doing more of the stuff that was slightly more tangential to the story, except that broke down pretty quickly and when we got towards the end we swapped characters so that we'd both written everyone by the time it was done, but then we also rewrote and footnoted each others bits as we went along, and rolled up our sleeves to take the first draft to the second (quite a lot of words), and, by the end of it, neither of us was entirely certain who had written what. It was indeed plotted in long daily phone calls, and we would post floppy disks (and this was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy) back and forth.[3]

while Terry Pratchett has said:

I think this is an honest account of the process of writing Good Omens. It was fairly easy to keep track of because of the way we sent discs to one another, and because I was Keeper of the Official Master Copy I can say that I wrote a bit over two thirds of Good Omens. However, we were on the phone to each other every day, at least once. If you have an idea during a brainstorming session with another guy, whose idea is it? One guy goes and writes 2,000 words after thirty minutes on the phone, what exactly is the process that's happening? I did most of the physical writing because:
  1. I had to. Neil had to keep Sandman going – I could take time off from the DW;
  2. One person has to be overall editor, and do all the stitching and filling and slicing and, as I've said before, it was me by agreement – if it had been a graphic novel, it would have been Neil taking the chair for exactly the same reasons it was me for a novel;
  3. I'm a selfish bastard and tried to write ahead to get to the good bits before Neil.
Initially, I did most of Adam and the Them and Neil did most of the Four Horsemen, and everything else kind of got done by whoever – by the end, large sections were being done by a composite creature called Terryandneil, whoever was actually hitting the keys. By agreement, I am allowed to say that Agnes Nutter, her life and death, was completely and utterly mine. And Neil proudly claims responsibility for the maggots. Neil's had a major influence on the opening scenes, me on the ending. In the end, it was this book done by two guys, who shared the money equally and did it for fun and wouldn't do it again for a big clock."[2]

Reception

  • World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel, 1991[1]
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 1991[1]

Alterations between versions

The United States edition of Good Omens had numerous alterations to the text. The most significant alteration to the main text is the addition of an extra 700-word section just before the end, dealing with what happened to the character of Warlock, the American diplomat's son, who was swapped with Adam.[4] The American edition also adds numerous footnotes not found in British editions.

The Dutch translation of Good Omens contains an ironic preface by the translator wherein he asserts that no extra footnotes were added to clarify matters that might be unclear to a modern audience—annotated with footnotes explaining omen and Crowley.

In the French version, some characters were given French-sounding names. Agnes Nutter became Agnès Barge (barge is french for nutter), Anathema Device became Anthème Bidule (Bidule being french for Device). More interestingly, Crowley became Rampa, after the infamous author of The Third Eye, T.L. Rampa. It is to be noted that the french publisher of Good Omens (J'Ai Lu) was also the french publisher of the T.L. Rampa books.

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Translations

  • Dobri predznaci: Fina i točna proročanstva Agnes Nutter, vještice (Croatian)
  • Добри поличби (Bulgarian)
  • 好預兆 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 好兆头 (Simplified Chinese)
  • Dobrá znamení (Czech)
  • Hoge Omens: de oprechte en secure voorspellingen van Agnes Nutter, een heks (Dutch)
  • Head ended (Estonian)
  • Hyviä enteitä eli Agnes Nutterin hienot ja oikeat ennustukset (Finnish)
  • De bons présages (French)
  • Ein gutes Omen (German)
  • בשורות טובות: נבואותיה הנחמדות והמדויקות של אגנס נאטר, מכשפה (Hebrew)
  • Elveszett Próféciák (Hungarian)
  • Buona Apocalisse a tutti! (Italian)
  • 멋진 징조들 (Korean)
  • Dobry Omen (Polish)
  • Belas Maldições: As Belas e Precisas Profecias de Agnes Nutter, Bruxa (Brazilian Portuguese)
  • Bons Augúrios (Portuguese)
  • Semne bune (Romanian)
  • Добрые предзнаменования (Russian)
  • Dobra predskazanja (Serbian)
  • Buenos Presagios, las buenas y ajustadas profecias de Agnes la Chalada, profetisa (Spanish)
  • Goda Omen (Swedish)
  • Bir Kıyamet Komedisi (Turkish)

Later Works

Sequel

668—The Neighbour of the Beast was slated as the title for a sequel to Good Omens, but after Neil Gaiman moved to the United States, Terry Pratchett expressed doubt that a sequel would be written.[4] Neil Gaiman later affirmed this in one of his essays, titled Terry Pratchett: An Appreciation.

Film version

A film, directed by Terry Gilliam, was planned. As of 2002 Gilliam still hoped to make the film with its already completed script,[5] but by 2006 it seemed to have come to nothing. Funding was slow to appear and Gilliam moved on to other projects. The film was removed from IMDB. There was a rumour that Johnny Depp was originally cast as Crowley and Robin Williams as Aziraphale. However Neil Gaiman has said on his website, "Well, Robin's worked with Terry Gilliam before as well, of course, most famously in The Fisher King. But I have no idea about Good Omens casting (except for Shadwell. Terry told me who he wanted to play Shadwell. I immediately forgot the man's name, although I can assure you that it wasn't Robin Williams)."[6] According to an interview in May 2006 at The Guardian Hay Festival, Gilliam is apparently still hoping to go ahead with the film.

Even in 2008, Gilliam is still hopeful about the project. Neil Gaiman's Stardust and Beowulf were successful as films in 2007, which has given the Good Omens adaptation a better chance to get picked up. A Gilliam quote from an Empire interview: "And I thought with Neil, with Stardust and with Beowulf and there’s another one – an animated film, a Henry Selick thing he’s written [Coraline], I was thinking he’s really hot now, so maybe there’s a chance. I mean it’s such a wonderful book. And I think our script is pretty good, too. We did quite a few changes. We weren’t as respectful as we ought to have been. But Neil’s happy with it!"[7]

The tedious history of this project and similar experiences with Gaiman's various other works (including The Sandman series) have led to his cynical view of the Hollywood process, a view which occasionally surfaces in his weblog[8] and in some of his short fiction. Terry Pratchett shares a similar opinion, and has been quoted as saying, "The difference between me and Neil in our attitude to movie projects is that he doesn't believe they're going to happen until he's sitting in his seat eating popcorn, and I don't believe they're going to happen."[9]

Terry Pratchett has had many of the same issues with Hollywood 'suits',[10] but he, too, would love to see the film made.[citation needed]

Notes

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (1990) is a comedic novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a satire of prophecies of the Apocalypse and Armageddon.

  • Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.
    • Disclaimer on the credits page.

Contents

In the beginning. . .

Rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
  • It was a nice day.
    All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.
  • " A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing." He nudged the angel. "Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?"
    "Not really," said Aziraphale.
  • GOOD OMENS : A Narrative of Certain Events occurring in the last eleven years of human history, in strict accordance as shall be shewn with: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter
    Compiled and edited, with Footnotes of an Educational Nature and Precepts for the Wise, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
  • Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)

Eleven years ago

Many phenomena — wars, plagues, sudden audits — have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for Exhibit A.
  • God moves in extremely mysterious, not to say, circuitous ways. God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players*, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
    • Footnote to above: * ie., everybody.
  • Many phenomena — wars, plagues, sudden audits — have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for Exhibit A.
  • All tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums.
  • It'd be a funny old world, he reflected, if demons went round trusting one another.
He'd been an angel once. He hadn't meant to Fall. He'd just hung around with the wrong people...
  • That's how it goes, you think you're on top of the world, and suddenly they spring Armageddon on you. The Great War, the Last Battle. Heaven versus Hell, three rounds, one Fall, no submission. And that'd be that. No more world. That's what the end of the world meant. No more world. Just endless Heaven or, depending who won, endless Hell. Crowley didn't know which was worse.
  • He'd been an angel once. He hadn't meant to Fall. He'd just hung around with the wrong people.
  • Most of the members of the convent were old-fashioned Satanists, like their parents and grandparents before them. They'd been brought up to it and weren't, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren't. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.
  • It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.
  • 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.
  • Just when you'd think they were more malignant than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of. Often the same individual was involved. It was this freewill thing, of course. It was a bugger.
  • He stared down at the golden curls of the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness.
    "You know," he concluded, after a while, "I think he actually looks like an Adam."
  • Technically Aziraphale was a Principality, but people made jokes about that these days.
  • Buggre Alle this for a Larke I amme sick to mye Hart of typefettinge. Master Biltonn if no Gentelmann, and Master Scagges noe more than a tighte fisted Southwarke Knobbefticke.
  • "There you are then", said Crowley, sitting back. "Whole sea bubbling, poor old dolphins so much seafood gumbo, no one giving a damn. Same with gorillas. Whoops, they say, sky gone all red, stars crashing to ground, what they putting in the bananas these days?"

Wednesday

There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf...
  • There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of manmade evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. These dogs advance deliberately, purposefully, the wilderness made flesh, their teeth yellow, their breath astink, while in the distance their owners witter, "He's an old soppy really, just poke him if he's a nuisance," and in the green of their eyes the red campfires of the Pleistocene gleam and flicker . . .
    This dog would make even a dog like that slink nonchalantly behind the sofa and pretend to be extremely preoccupied with its rubber bone.
    It was already growling, and the growl was a low, rumbling snarl of spring-coiled menace, the sort of growl that starts in the back of one throat and ends up in someone else's.
  • It leapt the hedge and padded across the field beyond. A grazing bull eyed it for a moment, weighed its chances, then strolled hurriedly toward the opposite hedge.
  • The owner of a voice like that would be the sort of person who, before making a plastic model kit, would not only seperate and count all the pieces before commencing, as per the instructions, but also paint all the bits that needed painting first and leave them to dry properly prior to construction. All that separated this voice from chartered accountancy was a matter of time.
  • "It's Tchaikovsky's 'Another One Bites the Dust'," said Crowley, closing his eyes as they went through Slough. To while away the time as they crossed the sleeping Chilterns, they also listened to William Byrd's "We Are the Champions" and Beethoven's "I Want To Break Free." Neither were as good as Vaughan Williams's "Fat-Bottomed Girls."
  • Apart from, of course, the fact that the world was an amazing interesting place which they both wanted to enjoy for as long as possible, there were few things that the two of them agreed on, but they did see eye to eye about some of those people who, for one reason or another, were inclined to worship the Prince of Darkness. Crowley always found them embarrassing. You couldn't actually be rude to them, but you couldn't help feeling about them the same way that, say, a Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighborhood Watch meetings.
Precisely because she was a witch, and therefore sensible, she put little faith in protective amulets and spells; she saved it all for a foot-long bread knife which she kept in her belt.
  • There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn't just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They'd come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout "The Devil Made Me Do It" and get the sympathy of the court when the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn't have to. That was what some humans found hard to understand. Hell wasn't a major reservoir of evil, any more than Heaven, in Crowley's opinion, was a fountain of goodness; they were just sides in the great cosmic chess game. Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.
  • Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.
  • Any prowling maniac would have had more than his work cut out if he had accosted Anathema Device. She was a witch, after all. And precisely because she was a witch, and therefore sensible, she put little faith in protective amulets and spells; she saved it all for a foot-long bread knife which she kept in her belt.
  • "What're they playing at?" said Aziraphale.
    "I don't know," said Crowley, "but I think it's called silly buggers." His tone suggested that he could play, too. And do it better.
  • "I think the maggots were a bit over the top, myself," said Aziraphale, but without much rancor.
  • "I'm not occult," said Aziraphale. "Angels aren't occult. We're ethereal."
    "Whatever," snapped Crowley, too worried to argue.
  • "All the higher life forms scythed away, just like that."
    "Terrible."
    "Nothing but dust and fundamentalists."
    "That was nasty."
    "Sorry. Couldn't resist it."
She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close...
  • In a climate-controlled cabinet in one corner was the original scroll in the shaky handwriting of St. John the Divine of Patmos, whose "Revelation" had been the alltime best seller. Aziraphale had found him a nice chap, if a bit too fond of odd mushrooms.
  • The redhaired woman in the corner of the hotel bar was the most successful war correspondent in the world. She now had a passport in the name of Carmine Zuigiber; and she went where the wars were.
    Well. More or less.
    Actually she went where the wars weren't. She'd already been where the wars were.
  • Red signed the receipt pad, illegibly, then printed her name. The name she wrote was not Carmine Zuigiber. It was a much shorter name.
  • The men in the room suddenly realized that they didn't want to know her better. She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.
    And as she held her sword, she smiled like a knife.

Thursday

The things that really change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.
Somewhere in Adam's sleeping head, a butterfly had emerged.
  • "I bet you don't have to be Spanish to be the Spanish Inquisition," said Adam. "I bet it's like Scottish eggs or American hamburgers. It just has to look Spanish. We've just got to make it look Spanish. Then everyone would know it's the Spanish Inquisition."
  • It was a very good torture, everyone agreed. The trouble was getting the putative witch off it.
  • It used to be thought that the events that changed the world were things like big bombs, maniac politicians, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is a very old-fashioned view held by people totally out of touch with modern thought. The things that really change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.
    Somewhere in Adam's sleeping head, a butterfly had emerged.
  • It might, or might not, have helped Anathema get a clear view of things if she'd been allowed to spot the very obvious reason why she couldn't see Adam's aura.
    It was for the same reason that people in Trafalgar Square can't see England.
  • He didn't say "That's weird." He wouldn't have said "That's weird" if a flock of sheep had cycled past playing violins. It wasn't the sort of thing a responsible engineer said.

Friday

  • Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. Two of these were wrong; Heaven is not in England, whatever certain poets may have thought, and angels are sexless unless they really want to make an effort. But he was intelligent. And it was an angelic intelligence which, while not being particularly higher than human intelligence, is much broader and has the advantage of having thousands of years of practice.
  • Sometimes he would scribble something on a sheet of paper by his side. It was covered in symbols which only eight other people in the world would have been able to comprehend; two of them had won Nobel prizes, and one of the other six dribbled a lot and wasn't allowed anything sharp because of what he might do with it.
  • There was a time when witchfinders were respected, although it didn't last very long.
  • This is how Newton Pulsifer looked as a man: if he went into a phone booth and changed, he might manage to come out looking like Clark Kent.

Saturday

Gather ye ryte close, I saye, and marke well the fate of alle who meddle with suche as theye do none understande.
  • Gather ye ryte close, goode people. Come close untyl the fire near scorch ye, for I charge ye that alle must see how thee last true wytch in England dies. For wytch I am, for soe I am judged, yette I knoe not what my true Cryme may be. And therefore let myne deathe be a messuage to the worlde. Gather ye ryte close, I saye, and marke well the fate of alle who meddle with suche as theye do none understande.
  • Newt had never been in a woman's bedroom before, but he sensed that this was one largely by a combination of soft smells. There was a hint of talcum and lily-of-the-valley, and no rank suggestion of old T-shirts that had forgotten what the inside of a tumbledryer looked like.
Do Notte Buye Betamacks
  • "Anathema Device," said Anathema. "I'm an occultist, but that's just a hobby. I'm really a witch. Well done. You're half an hour late," she added, handing him a small sheet of cardboard, "so you'd better read this. It'll save a lot of time."
  • Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if the machine 1) didn't work, 2) didn't do what the expensive advertisements said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighborhood, 4) and in fact failed entirely to be inside the expensive box when you opened it, this was expressly, absolutely, implicitly and in no event the fault or responsibility of the manufacturer, that the purchaser should consider himself lucky to be allowed to give his money to the manufacturer, and that any attempt to treat what had just been paid for as the purchaser's own property would result in the attentions of serious men with menacing briefcases and very thin watches. Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: "Learn, guys..."
  • Agnes was the worst prophet that's ever existed. Because she was always right. That's why the book never sold.
  • Most psychic abilities are caused by a simple lack of temporal focus, and the mind of Agnes Nutter was so far adrift in Time that she was considered pretty mad even by the standards of seventeenth-century Lancashire, where mad prophetesses were a growth industry.
  • "She managed to come up with the kind of predictions that you can only understand after the thing has happened," said Anathema. "Like 'Do Notte Buye Betamacks.' That was a prediction for 1972."
  • Most of the time she comes up with such an oblique reference that you can't work it out until it's gone past, and then it all slots into place. And she didn't know what was going to be important or not, so it's all a bit hit and miss.
  • You see, it's not enough to know what the future is. You have to know what it means. Agnes was like someone looking at a huge picture down a tiny little tube. She wrote down what seemed like good advice based on what she understood of the tiny little glimpses.
Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you.
  • "What I'm trying to say," she said patiently, "is that Agnes didn't see the future. That's just a metaphor. She remembered it. Not very well, of course, and by the time it'd been filtered through her own understanding it's often a bit confused.
  • When most people said "I'm psychic, you see," they meant "I have an overactive but unoriginal imagination/wear black nail varnish/ talk to my budgie"; when Anathema said it, it sounded as though she was admitting to a hereditary disease which she'd much prefer not to have.
  • Anyway, there isn't any evil here. That's what I don't understand. There's just love.
  • He pulled on the gloves and gingerly took the flask, and the tongs, and the bucket — and, as an afterthought, he grabbed the plant mister from beside a luxuriant rubber plant — and headed for his office, walking like a man carrying a thermos flask full of something that might cause, if he dropped it or even thought about dropping it, the sort of explosion that impels graybeards to make statements like "And where this crater is now, once stood the City of Wah-Shing-Ton," in SF B-movies.
    • The demon Crowley carrying Holy Water.
  • Plan A had worked. Plan B had failed. Everything depended on Plan C, and there was one drawback to this: he had only ever planned as far as B.
Demons aren't bound by physics. If you take the long view, the universe is just something small and round, like those waterfilled balls which produce a miniature snowstorm when you shake them.
  • Just for a moment he had entertained the possibility; that was where Crowley had got him. It was just possible that Hell was testing him. That Crowley was more than he seemed. Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you.
  • Demons aren't bound by physics. If you take the long view, the universe is just something small and round, like those waterfilled balls which produce a miniature snowstorm when you shake them.
  • For those of angel stock or demon breed, size, and shape, and composition, are simply options.
  • It was then that Marvin got religion. Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people's doorbells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money.
  • The world is a lot more complicated than most people believe. Many people believed, for example, that Marvin was not a true Believer because he made so much money out of it. They were wrong. He believed with all his heart. He believed utterly, and spent a lot of the money that flooded in on what he really thought was the Lord's work.
  • MORTALS CAN HOPE FOR DEATH, OR FOR REDEMPTION. YOU CAN HOPE FOR NOTHING.
    ALL YOU CAN HOPE FOR IS THE MERCY OF HELL.

    "Yeah?"
    JUST OUR LITTLE JOKE.
  • "You're Hell's Angels. . . What chapter are you from, then?"
    REVELATIONS . . . CHAPTER SIX.
"Listen," croaked Skuzz. "Got something important to tell you. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ... they're right bastards, all four of them."
  • Death and Famine and War and Pollution continued biking toward Tadfield.
    And Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty to Animals, Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping But Secretly No Alcohol Lager, and Really Cool People traveled with them.
  • She finished drying herself, and started picking up clothes from the floor, and, unselfconsciously, pulling them on. Newt, a man who was prepared to wait half an hour for a free changing cubicle at the swimming baths, rather than face the possibility of having to disrobe in front of another human being, found himself vaguely shocked, and deeply thrilled.
  • Now, I know what you're thinking, Sergeant Shadwell. You're thinking that any second now this head is going to go round and round, and I'm going to start vomiting pea soup. Well, I'm not. I'm not a demon. And I'd like you to listen to what I have to say.
  • The Antichrist is alive on earth at this moment, Sergeant. He is bringing about Armageddon, the Day of Judgement, even if he himself does not know it. Heaven and Hell are both preparing for war, and it's all going to be very messy.
  • "Listen," croaked Skuzz. "Got something important to tell you. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse . . . they're right bastards, all four of them."
  • Cars, in theory, give you a terrifically fast method of traveling from place to place. Traffic jams, on the other hand, give you a terrific opportunity to stay still.
  • Okay, so Hell was down on him. So the world was ending. So the Cold War was over and the Great War was starting for real. So the odds against him were higher than a vanload of hippies on a blotterful of Owlsley's Old Original. There was still a chance.
    It was all a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
  • The technical term for it is infrablack. It can be seen quite easily under experimental conditions. To perform the experiment simply select a healthy brick wall with a good runup, and, lowering your head, charge. The color that flashes in bursts behind your eyes, behind the pain, just before you die, is infrablack.
It would take a lot to faze a copper from the Met...
  • Odegra. Nothing could cross it and survive.
    Nothing mortal, anyway. And he wasn't sure what it would do to a demon. It couldn't kill him, but it wouldn't be pleasant.
  • A street of light will screem, the black chariot of the Serpente will flayme, and a Queene wille sing quickfilveres songes no moar.
  • It would take a lot to faze a copper from the Met.
    It would take, for example, a huge, battered car that was nothing more nor less than a fireball, a blazing, roaring, twisted metal lemon from Hell, driven by a grinning lunatic in sunglasses, sitting amid the flames, trailing thick black smoke, coming straight at them through the lashing rain and the wind at eighty miles per hour.
    That would do it every time.
You've got to help me sort it out," said Adam. "People've been tryin' to sort it out for thousands of years, but we've got to sort it out now.
  • Adam opened his mouth and screamed. It was a sound that a merely mortal throat should not have been able to utter; it wound out of the quarry, mingled with the storm, caused the clouds to curdle into new and unpleasant shapes.
    It went on and on.
    It resounded around the universe, which is a good deal smaller than physicists would believe. It rattled the celestial spheres.
    It spoke of loss, and it did not stop for a very long time.
  • Pepper? Wensley? Brian? Come back here. It's all right. It's all right. I know everything now. And you've got to help me. Otherwise it's all goin' to happen. It's really all goin' to happen. It's all goin' to happen, if we don't do somethin'.
  • "You've got to help me sort it out," said Adam. "People've been tryin' to sort it out for thousands of years, but we've got to sort it out now."
  • No one paid any attention to them. Perhaps they saw nothing at all. Perhaps they saw what their minds were instructed to see, because the human brain is not equipped to see War, Famine, Pollution, and Death when they don't want to be seen, and has got so good at not seeing that it often manages not to see them even when they abound on every side.
  • "Hey," he said, but much more weakly this time, "did any of them kids have some space alien with a face like a friendly turd in a bike basket?"
  • Adam glanced up. In one sense there was just clear air overhead. In another, stretching off to infinity, were the hosts of Heaven and Hell, wingtip to wingtip. If you looked really closely, and had been specially trained, you could tell the difference.
In bunkers under Wyoming and Nebraska, men in fatigues stopped screaming and waving guns at one another, and would have had a beer if alcohol had been allowed in missile bases. It wasn't, but they had one anyway.
  • You just had to decide who your friends really were.
  • There was a tearing sound. Death's robe split and his wings unfolded. Angel's wings. But not of feathers. They were wings of night, wings that were shapes cut through the matter of creation into the darkness underneath, in which a few distant lights glimmered, lights that may have been stars or may have been something entirely else.
  • He is Not that Which He Says he Is
  • In bunkers under Novya Zemla men found that the fuses they were frantically trying to pull out came away in their hands at last; in bunkers under Wyoming and Nebraska, men in fatigues stopped screaming and waving guns at one another, and would have had a beer if alcohol had been allowed in missile bases. It wasn't, but they had one anyway.
  • Crowley was not used to people identifying him so readily, but Adam stared at him as though Crowley's entire life history was pasted inside the back of his skull and he, Adam, was reading it. For an instant he knew real terror. He'd always thought the sort he'd felt before was the genuine article, but that was mere abject fear beside this new sensation. Those Below could make you cease to exist by, well, hurting you in unbearable amounts, but this boy could not only make you cease to exist merely by thinking about it, but probably could arrange matters so that you never had existed at all.
  • You think wars get started because some old duke gets shot, or someone cuts off someone's ear, or someone's sited their missiles in the wrong place. It's not like that. That's just, well, just reasons, which haven't got anything to do with it. What really causes wars is two sides that can't stand the sight of one another and the pressure builds up and up and then anything will cause it. Anything at all.
  • "I don't see what's so t'riffic about creating people as people and then gettin' upset 'cos they act like people," said Adam severely. "Anyway, if you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive.
  • You can't be certain that what's happening right now isn't exactly right, from an ineffable point of view.
"I'd just like to say," he said, "if we don't get out of this, that . . . I'll have known, deep down inside, that there was a spark of goodness in you."
"That's right," said Crowley bitterly. "Make my day."
  • "God does not play games with His loyal servants," said the Metatron, but in a worried tone of voice.
    "Whooo-eee," said Crowley. "Where have you been?"
  • "We seem to have survived," he said. "Just imagine how terrible it might have been if we'd been at all competent."
  • "That's not Beelzebub!" he shouted, above the noise of the wind. "That's Him. His Father! This isn't Armageddon, this is personal."
  • Crowley started to argue, and realized that he hadn't anything. There was nothing he could lose that he hadn't lost already. They couldn't do anything worse to him than he had coming to him already. He felt free at last.
    He also felt under the seat and found a tire iron. It wouldn't be any good, but then, nothing would. In fact it'd be much more terrible facing the Adversary with anything like a decent weapon. That way you might have a bit of hope, which would make it worse.
  • "I'd just like to say," he said, "if we don't get out of this, that . . . I'll have known, deep down inside, that there was a spark of goodness in you."
    "That's right," said Crowley bitterly. "Make my day."
There never was an apple, in Adam's opinion, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it.

Sunday

  • Maybe it's all part of a great big ineffable plan. All of it. You, me, him, everything. Some great big test to see if what you've built all works properly, eh? You start thinking: it can't be a great cosmic game of chess, it has to be just very complicated Solitaire. And don't bother to answer. If we could understand, we wouldn't be us. Because it's all — all — "
    INEFFABLE, said the figure feeding the ducks.
  • Nothin' wrong with witchfinding. I'd like to be a witchfinder. It's just, well you've got to take it in turns. Today we'll go out witchfinding, an' tomorrow we could hide, an it'd be the witches' turn to find US...
  • There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this. Ever again.
    Better make the most of it, then.
  • For a fraction of an instant Adam saw, outlined in the smoke, a handsome, female face. A face that hadn't been seen on Earth for over three hundred years.
    Agnes Nutter winked at him.
  • There never was an apple, in Adam's opinion, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it.

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