Good Omens

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Name: Good Omens
Abbreviation(s): GO
Creator: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Date(s): 1990 (novel); 2019 (tv series)
Medium: Novel, television
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
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Good Omens is a popular fantasy novel about the apocalypse by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It has an active online fanworks fandom.

The novel was adapted by BBC as a radiodrama.

A much anticipated series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen began in May 2019.[1]

Synopsis

Good Omens is the story of how the world didn't quite end. As Neil Gaiman's website puts it:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded in 1655, just before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants – they’d gathered to watch her burn and got more of a show than expected) the world will end on a Saturday – next Saturday, as it happens. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their hogs, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.

However, the somewhat fussy Aziraphale and the fast-living Crowley – each of whom rather favors the lifestyle of Earth’s mortals – are not especially looking forward to Rapture. Thing is, if they’re going to prevent that from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the Antichrist, and, er, someone seems to have misplaced him...[2]

Characters

The main characters of Good Omens are:

  • Aziraphale - Heaven's representative on Earth. "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."
  • Crowley - Hell's representative on Earth. "An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards."[3]
  • Adam Young - The eleven-year-old Antichrist.
  • Agnes Nutter - The witch mentioned earlier, whose prophecies are astonishingly accurate.
  • Anathema Device - A descendant of Agnes, who has the last copy of her book of prophecies, and wishes the world wouldn't end quite so soon.
  • Newton Pulsifer - A young man with a talent for electrocution and a love of machines.
  • The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse - You can figure this one out.
  • Various and Sundry Supporting Cast - Including inefficient witch-hunters, lascivious old women, pragmatic pre-teens, and assorted supernatural entities.

Fandom

The most common pairing in Good Omens fandom is Aziraphale/Crowley, and gen stories featuring the pair are plentiful as well. Many stories take advantage of the fact that the two have been around throughout the entirety of human history and feature historical settings or appearances by historical or Biblical figures. Stories about Adam and the Them are also common. Good Omens fanfic sometimes includes detailed and humorous footnotes, similar to those included in the original novel.

Book Fandom

As with many older fandoms, the GO fandom was very active on Livejournal before moving to Tumblr. However some communities and events are still active on Livejournal. The main community for Good Omens fandom is lower_tadfield, and the annual holiday fanwork exchange is hosted at go-exchange.

Well-known fan writers include afrai, Aja, Argyle, Daegaer, irisbleufic, Louise Lux, Sam Starbuck, Vulgarweed, and others.

Reccers include Arduinna, Beth H, Carmarthen, Knacc, Espresso Addict, Polyamorous Recommendations, and others.

In the mid 2000s, Good Omens fans were well known for their tendency to actively engage with Gaiman and Pratchett. It is a tendency that has continued in more recent times, with Gaiman's active engagement with fans on Tumblr and Twitter.

Fanart is very popular in the GO fandom, with much discussion related to the appearance of angel and demon wings. There has also been considerable discussion about the depiction of characters with no specified race, as predominantly white, in fanart and fancasts.[4][5]

i can recognize that yeah, most headcanons do come from old texts and paintings, and thats perfectly fine. what’s problematic, though, is that we ALL turned to that headcanon, or just about everyone, so that the overall image of AZ that we have is a chubby blonde haired white guy. meanwhile, we have so much variety in the fandom itself. its pretty harmful to the majority of us that we have almost no representation at all, in a media where we could just add the representation ourselves and have it fit perfectly with the book. im not just talking about AZ, either![6]

Further Fanon Resources

Author Response

Gaiman has also said several times in his blog that he is not opposed to fanfiction (of his work and in general) but really doesn't want to be exposed to it himself:

And this has less to do with prudery than with my own comfort levels. I can just about get my head around the concept of Crowley-Aziraphale slash, and would rather not read it thanks. Out beyond that, I don't actually want to know...[7]

Second Wave

After the release of the TV miniseries, the fandom experiences a major boom.

Since airing, the series and the original novel, have been referred to as a "6000 year slow burn", and this tag has also begun appearing on works pairing Aziraphale/Crowley.

In response to the fandom's boom, The Rec Center newsletter #180 on June 14, 2019, contained "fanfiction + explainer: good omens", a primer/fandom overview by guest editor Kira:

If you hadn’t heard of Good Omens before, you probably did in the last two weeks—after the miniseries adaptation was released and took the internet by storm. The story of a Biblical apocalypse and the angel and demon trying to prevent it, the nearly thirty-year-old book fandom is experiencing a new growth spurt thanks to the show. For new fans it’s well worth digging into the older parts of fandom and the huge amounts of content therein.

Good Omens has a long history as a slash fandom; while perhaps not a grandparent of slash, it’s at least a favourite aunt. Aziraphale and Crowley’s relationship in the book is that of an old married couple, an interpretation that was only bolstered by the authors’ revelation that post-canon they were sharing a cottage in the South Downs. There are multiple fandom introductions/starter packs, and a great place to dig into the history of the fandom is Lower Tadfield Air Base, a Livejournal community that’s been running since 2003. This was the centre of the fandom for many years, and is meticulously tagged for easy browsing. The recs tag is an excellent place to start if you want to see what people were recommending back in the day.

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Gaiman's comments post-TV series

Fanwork Examples

Art

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Fics

Vids

Links

References

  1. Good Omens release date CONFIRMED: Neil Gaiman Amazon Prime Video series arrives in May 2019 - Radio Times, Archived version
  2. Neil Gaiman's official website. Neil's Work > Books > Good Omens. (Accessed 09 August 2013.)
  3. Good Omens, List of Dramatis Personae.
  4. When you favourite book's fandom tumblr post by situationalystudious on Tumblr, December 2019, accessed 14 June 2019.
  5. You guys realise post by mutececil on Tumblr, February 2014, accessed 14 June 2019.
  6. A lot of the image from Azi, tumblr discussion on depiction of Az as a white male, 2014, accessed 14 June 2019.
  7. 3.9.2003, In which it is decided there are Some Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know by Neil Gaiman, accessed 13.10.2011