"Good Omens" is a collaborative novel written by acclaimed fantasy authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, first published in 1990 and nominated for both the Locus and the World Fantasy Awards. Armaggeddon - the final battle between Heaven and Hell - is nigh. The Antichrist walks the earth (in rural Oxfordshire, no less) in the form of eleven-year-old Adam Young, although a mix-up at birth means that the forces of Hell have managed to confuse him with another child, with potentially devastating consequences. Meanwhile the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, who in their six thousand years on Earth have actually grown quite attached to the place and its human inhabitants, are trying their best to undermine the Divine plan and prevent the Apocalypse from happening.
Other characters to enter the mix include: the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse; the Metatron (not one of the Transformers but in fact the Voice of God); Newton Pulsifer, the latest recruit to the two-man Witchfinder Army; and psychic Anathema Device, who alone holds the prophecies of the world's destruction. The result is a riotous and hugely entertaining novel which never lets up the pace. Yet as Adam begins to realise his true powers and a series of highly improbable events (the rising of Atlantis from the bottom of the ocean, fish raining from the sky) begins to pave the way for the end times, a sense of real menace slowly emerges - strange though that may seem. And amidst the humour there are also serious musings on the nature of good and evil, as well as some subtle digs at Christian theology and its inherent paradoxes.
The collaboration captures the best of both authors' writing, with Pratchett's wry sense of humour and the darker themes familiar from Gaiman's work combining to create an edgy yet blackly funny prose style, in many ways reminiscent of some of Douglas Adams' works, such as "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul". The latest edition, published in 2006, also includes the transcript of an interview with both authors, as well as short pieces penned by Pratchett and Gaimain themselves regarding their experiences of working with each other, which offer plenty of insight into the process of writing the novel.
"Good Omens" is a tremendously enjoyable novel and a real page-turner which will appeal to readers on any number of levels, from the frivolous to the philosophical.