Headscratchers / Good Omens

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    Nitrous Oxide 

  • What's so gay about a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide? Not that there isn't anything strange about a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide, and not that it isn't fun to saynote , but I don't see anything particularly homosexual about it.
    • Gay as in the (now archaic) meaning of 'happy'. A tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide is pretty happy.
    • In the case of bonobo chimps, who are promiscuously bi, it would be "gay" at least half the time...
    • Except those would be apes, and you never, EVER call an ape a monkey!
    • One dazed and impressed look to you for replying at roughly the speed of freaking LIGHT, and in that case how come the author made it pretty clear he meant the more modern meaning by explaining that angels don't have gender unless they make an effort?? Just screwing around with the words to mess with us?
    • Now that I think of it, I can see it playing on the older meaning of gay as happy, but I also wondered if the nitrous oxide was a reference to a high pitched stereotypical Camp Gay voice.
    • In a word: yes. It was wordplay - gay meaning both 'happy' and 'homosexual'. Consider who was writing that. (Also: I appear to have some sort of editing superpower. You're very welcome.)
    • I have often seen 'camp as a row of tents' used for similar purposes.
    • ...I like that. And not in the sarcastic way. It's an interesting phrase.
    • Also because it's not particularly denigrating on account of being funny as hell - to go along with the painful kind of wordplay for which the authors are notable - while getting the point across. You're supposed to chuckle at the line itself, then facepalm at the awful wordplay, then laugh because it was so painfully funny.
    • When'd I call it denigrating? I just didn't get the simile at the time.
    • In England and Australia it's common to describe a thing by using an alternate definition. For instance if you call someone crazy in Australia they are as "mad as a cut snake" because a cut snake would be angry, angry = mad, and mad = insane. It's sort of like cockney rhyming slang. Of course that's not the best example because "mad as a cut snake" is also used for just being angry as well but I think you get the idea.
    • A cut snake is a dead snake and should therefore have no feelings or mental stability one way or the other. If it is both cut and mad, it's probably undead and should have better adjectives attached to it then mad.
    • Do you die every time you get a paper cut?
    • Also, good grief, we're being a bit humourlessly literal there, aren't we? It's a semi-comedic analogy, not a court transcript.
    • A more demonstrative example might be "straight as a ruler", when used to describe someone's demeanor (or, indeed, their sexuality).

    Aura Sight 

  • Why didn't Anathema realize Aziraphale and Crowley were angels/demons? She notices Adam's abnormally expansive aura and the Horsepeople's negative auras. So why couldn't she see those of the angelic pair?
    • Maybe they have some way of hiding their auras. They'd be more likely to do that than Adam, who probably wouldn't know how or care, or the Horsepeople, who probably don't mind being conspicuous. But Aziraphale and Crowley are trying to pass as human, so they'd probably hide theirs. Or maybe despite being an angel and a demon, they just have more normal auras than the Antichrist or the Horsepeople of the Apocalypse.
    • Anathema didn't notice Adam's aura; she noticed his apparent lack of aura. It's not that he didn't have one, it's that it encompasses pretty much everything - forest, trees, etcetera.

    Villainous Death 

  • Was I the only one disappointed by a villainous Death? I mean, between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I was hoping for a good to neutral one, but instead we got the cliched evil death.
    • What was so evil about him? He was just an entity doing his job.
    • I dont remember him doing anything particularly evil.
    • The villainous Death who... compliments a delivery man on his dedication to the job, sticks around to collect the bikers who were stupid enough to try and make an impossible jump, and, confronted with the loss of the other Horsepeople simply states that he is necessary to the functioning of the universe and that the absence of the others means that it simply grinds down in entropy before leaving. ...What?
    • The Death of this book definitely isn't as human as Death of the Endless or the Discworld, but he's certainly not evil. If anything, in this case Sir Terry makes the exact opposite point that he makes in Discworld - Death is the only one of the four horsemen who has practically nothing human about him.
    • Not entirely true, as during the ending, there is a very tall figure in St. James' Park where Aziraphale and Crowly meet who feeds the ducks and speaks in allcaps. Death is apparently human and friendly enough to enjoy feeding small waterfowl.
    • Honestly, I thought the figure feeding waterfowl was God. It would make sense for me, in this case, to have Death and God speak similarly; both are vaguely ineffable and kind of "Do what you want, que sera," about things. It's suggested multiple times that God is just kind of sitting back and spectating for the hell of it, rather like how Death just does his job and isn't too emotionally invested in whether or not the world ends. Both Crowley and Aziraphale forget their conversation and its implications after the duck-feeder speaks, and Death is never shown to have that kind of power, so I kind of assumed...
    • At the end of the BBC Radio Play, Crowley and Aziraphale actually talk to the duck-feeding figure, and it's Death's same actor, and he glumly notices that all the ducks are now floating upside-down. So, I'd consider that Word of God that Death is feeding ducks (and doing a bad job of it).
    • This is only right at the end, after Adam's tampering with the reality. Before this incident Death doesn't demonstrate any kind of human traits; unlike his colleagues he does nothing but his work, and his interactions with them make it clear that he doesn't understand any concept that isn't related to it.
    • Death doesn't do NOTHING but his job - he did play a Trivia game.
    • Death in this book is conscientious, but kind of a Punch-Clock Villain. After all, he is working toward the end of the world, but only, apparently, because it's his job. He's perfectly happy to leave once it's been thwarted. By contrast, the Discworld Death rode out against the apocalypse.
    • Antagonist is probably a better word for Death in this book than villain. He's pretty much just doing his job, but his job in this case involves wiping out all life on Earth, so...

    Aziraphale and Books 

  • Yes, I know they were replaced with expensive first editions (of the kind of books Adam likes) but I think it was ridiculously out-of-character that Aziraphale wasn't in the slightest bit upset about losing, among other things, a Bible in which the typesetter left a long paragraph about how much he hates his job. How could you not be upset about that being destroyed? Especially if you loved books as much as Aziraphale?
    • Aziraphale puts the loss of one good thing behind him and gets on with enjoying a new good thing that has just dropped into his lap. It doesn't come strange if you subscribe to the view espoused in Perelandra for instance - where Tinidril, in complete acceptance of the will of Maleldil, philosophises at Ransom's departure "We will meet again, or else some other good thing will happen to us instead".
    • I always thought he had some of his "rarer" old books still, but some others that were merely first editions of books still in print got replaced with different first editions.
    • I like that idea, and I'd like to add that Aziraphale notes that he looked up the prices on the children's books, implying that he could sell those and buy back the books he lost.
    • Did he actually lose any of his books? I read that more as a call-back to the bit he says about his shirt after being shot with a paintball pellet. You remember? The 'I'd always be able to tell the difference' bit? As in, due to the books Adam added Aziraphale would always be reminded that he basically lost his entire collection in a fire

    Making more whales 

  • Late in the book after Adam powers up he's encouraged to use his powers to do good things like restoring the whale populations. It might be intelligent to realize that this wouldn't stop humans from hunting them again except he never considers the possibility that at least it would help a great number of whales avoid extinction.
    • Which in turn could lead to the extinction of their food source from overeating, which would lead back to whale extinction except now you have at least two things gone forever. Also restoring the whale population would mean that Adam created life. God tends to get annoyed when you do things like that.
    • Adam answers that himself. While he could bring back the dead whales (or dinosaurs, for that matter) he doesn't want to be stuck with cleaning up everyone else's mistakes. It would be like "Having to clean everyone else's bedrooms" - and he doesn't like even cleaning his own!

    Pepper's skills 

  • I know we all like Action Girl and You Go, Girl! and all that, and it seems like the character archetype of the sweet and gentle Girl Next Door is dead or that people don't think there's anything interesting out of that character archetype (which I sincerely doubt.), but I have to ask here; Pepper apparently beat up three kids at once, one of them being The Antichrist. Yeah, how the hell did that happen realistically?
    • She's a tomboy, and two of the kids she beat up were wusses. The Antichrist didn't use his powers against her.
    • When he was young he didn't have powers those manifested when dog first arrived.
    • The four kids are analogous to the Horsepeople, and she's the equivalent of War. I never needed more explanation than that.
    • It's actually explained in the book, too. The boys fight according to the timeless boys' code of honour; Pepper fights to win.
    • Fight, because even with honor, boys don't like to win? Double Standard.
    • The "timeless boys' code of honour" more or less means "don't really fight, just thump each other once or twice to make the point, then stop." Pepper wasn't playing by those rules, she was fighting to win the fight. You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that when friends scuffle, they're actually trying to hurt each other, which isn't normally the case.
    • This is true even in real fights. I went to a school where girls fighting in the halls during break was just as common as boys fighting. When guys fought, people stayed to watch, when girls fought, people ran
    • I took it as an oblique reference to Pepper being willing to kick the boys in their crotches.
    • Well, she is The Them's counterpart to War.
    • The boys have also presumably been taught from a fairly young age that hitting girls is a particularly not-very-nice thing to do, which is no doubt part of their "timeless code of honour" (i.e. boys don't hit girls). Since Pepper is less likely to have had the inverse ethical principle of "girls don't hit boys" drilled into her in the same way (since for various reasons girls are generally less likely / encouraged to engage in physical / violent conflict than boys are), she has a slight advantage over them in that they're likely to hold their punches towards her, but she's under no obligation to do the same. In essence, she benefits from a Double Standard.

    Aziraphale Swearing 

  • How exactly is the incident with the blue circle the first time Aziraphale has sworn? He says "bugger" at least once in the book before that, and "What the hell is it?", and "bloody" if you really want to be strict.
    • It's actually stated that it's the second time he's sworn in an hour, and when he says bugger earlier, it's stated that it's the first time he's sworn in four millenniums. It's just that the "oh fuck" line was a lot more powerful than the bugger line.
    • Yes, but doesn't he also say "bugger" when they're drunk at the beginning of the book? And there's still the "What the hell is it?"... Oh well. Maybe he decides those don't count for some reason?
    • This might veer into Alternate Character Interpretation a little, but I have the impression that Aziraphale thinks he's much more good than he really is (just as Crowley thinks he's more evil than he really is). Him conveniently forgetting all the "minor" times he's cussed "because they don't count" fits neatly into that.
    • It's also possible that he doesn't count damn and hell as vulgarities (since one is a state of being and the other a place, and both are literally very real in this book). Don't know how he dismisses the "buggerall" from earlier, though, except that he was very, very drunk at the time.
    • Consider also British cultural attitudes towards swearing. In Britain, mild curse-words like "bugger", "bloody" and "hell" tend to be regarded more as inoffensive punctuation than actual swear-words. When Aziraphale swears at the incident with the blue circle, he's talking about a 'proper' swearword (an F-bomb or something similar).

    Sex prophecy 

  • If there's any time to tell a prophecy to piss off, it's "It says we only do it once."
    • I'm not sure what the question is. The whole point of that exchange was to show that to Anathema their, ahem, "activities" were nothing more than fullfilling a prophecy. Newton wouldn't have been able to convince her otherwise if he tried.
    • Also, Newton admits that the thought that 20 generations of Nutters/Devices were metaphorically looking over his shoulder put something of a (Ahem)... crimp in his style.
    • It's a weird scene either way. From my reading I get the impression that she mainly did it at all Because Destiny Says So, but even if you've lived your entire life according to prophetic instructions, that seems like the kind of one to ignore if you don't really fancy the guy.
    • The line was something like "she gave a sigh that wasn't entirely displeased and wrapped her arms around him." In hindsight, that seems to be saying "Well, I was going to ignore the prophecy, but I suppose you're not that bad." If the prophecy said that she shagged Shadwell, she probably would have told it to piss off.

    Defeating the Riders and Devil 

  • How were Lucifer and the Horsemen defeated? I know Adam has reality altering powers, but both of these lost me. The THEM just confront the Horsemen with copies of their symbols and the Horsemen just disappear? Was it because Adam was siding with them and treating his friends as the true Horsemen instead of the actual four? And what about Lucifer? Considering he is Adam's father and his coming was treated as the equivalent of the end of the world how could Adam just handwave the whole thing?
    • Adam is an insanely powerful Reality Warper, and he doesn't know what the rules are, which mean they become whatever he thinks they are. The bit with Lucifer is a glorious example of this: he's told that His Father is coming to punish him, and he interpreted that in a way that makes sense to him ... so Mr Young arrives, and he's quite cross.
    • As for the Horseperson: It's a blink-and-you-miss-it thing: Early on Crowley muses that the really great good and the heartstopping evil, the 'real McCoy'is found in the minds of humans. Much later in the book War describes the horsepersons as 'the real McCoy'. And finally Azrael states that War, Famine and Pollution have returned to the minds of humans. What Adam and his friends did was not 'warping reality' or 'threatening to replace the horsepersons'. He showed them what they are in the end: A silly child's game. Make-Believe. (That would also be the reason Pestilence 'retired': Humans stopped believing him to be a threat after the discovery of penicillin).
    • I saw it as Adam's chosen Horsepeople going up against the actual Horsepeople. Adam threw his support behind his friends and effectively chose them over the other Horsepeople, so when they fought, the Them won, and essentially took the Horsepersons' places.


  • This is entirely a matter of personal opinion. I know it continues the joke about Queen. And yes, Bohemian Rhapsody is an awesome song. But when I read that book, for that one scene, I substituted Bohemian Rhapsody with Bat Out of Hell and it was even better. I just wonder why it didn't occur to either Pratchett or Gaiman to use the song that had - at least - the obviously more appropriate title.
    • Because Bohemian Rhapsody has far more recognizable lyrics?
    • Because they didn't pick Queen for dramatic effect/appropriateness in the first place: the whole Queen thing is inspired by something that actually happened, and it actually was Queen, so that's why it's Queen in the book.
    • Not to mention, if all had gone according to Hell's plan, it could very well be Beelzebub who would choose the demon who would torment Crowley.

    Anathema's weapon 

  • According to the book, Anathema is sensible, so instead of protective amulets she carries a foot-long bread knife in her belt. But if she was really sensible, wouldn't she carry a weapon that's harder to injure yourself with (think about it, it's blade is a foot-long and it's just swinging around on her belt, she could easily accidentally stab herself) and is easier to conceal (though you could make the argument that she wants people to know she's armed.)?
    • As I remember, she doesn't keep it in her belt normally, she keeps it in her handbag.
    • Maybe she made herself a scabbard for it?
    • Most bread knives don't have a point at the tip This is a typical example. It's actually pretty hard to injure yourself with a bread knife unless you are fairly careless when using it - because of the serrated edge, you have to apply a bit of pressure in conjunction with a slicing motion to actually cut. If you're going go carry a knife, it's probably the safest one (albeit not the most intimidating).
    • I think I've only come in contact with one bread knife that didn't have a pronged tip, and I've seen much older exampled of prong-tipped bread knives than I've seen on round-ended bread knives online. However, the prong-tipped bread knives were thin (but strong) and lightweight with extremely pointy serrations/scallops, which would provide a decent balance between maneuverability and damage ability. The prongs I've seen usually wouldn't go through a good pair of jeans from the angle where it could reach while tucked into a belt, unless you sat on it. The other was solid, unlikely to bend or break and good for a weapon that could bludgeon or do surface damage, and was the zweihander of kitchen knives. Either way, a bread knife is a decent example knife for someone who wants a bladed weapon that can scare off potential attackers, defend against attackers who aren't scared, and, most importantly, is legally available in Great Britain.
    • Anathema didn't lock her bike because she assumed Agnes would have told her if it was going to be stolen. There wasn't any prophecy telling her she was accidentally going to stab herself with a breadknife, so it was safe.

    Them and the Riders 

  • I picked up on how the other Them are shown to relate to their respective Horsepeople, but I've never gotten how Wensleydale is supposed to correspond to Famine, unless it's a more metaphorical starved of imagination type thing. Have I missed something, or is that it?
    • I think it's mentioned that Wensleydale is very picky about his food and therefore doesn't eat a lot. I could be mistaken, though. Process of elimination?
    • Wensleydale is the practical, smart, bookish and neat guy of the foursome, which does have some similarity to Famine's persona as the head of a company that promotes his cause through mainly scientific means.
    • Wensleydale is also the name of a cheese. An actually nutritious food, as opposed to MEALS and CHOW.
    • There is the moment where he knows that stick insects eat privet and that they eat their mates. And he does say that when he went on holiday, he "forgot to change the privet" and came back to 1 big insect instead of 6. That might have something to do with it.
    • MONTY PYTHON CHEESE SHOP SKETCH. Mr Wensleydale is the name of the proprietor of the cheese shop which does not actually have any cheese in it at all.
    • Wensleydale is the name of a food. The whole problem of Famine is a lack of food.

    Newt and the Computer 

  • Did Newt touching the computer help stop the Apocalypse, or did it stop just because the Horsepeople were defeated? I can't tell if this is supposed to be ambiguous or if it's supposed to be a joke, him and Anathema thinking he did it when it was really somebody else.
    • It's both, probably.
    • Newt and Anathema stopped the more mundane circumstances (i.e., the missile launch that was about to commence) while Adam and the Them took care of the more metaphysical aspect (the Horsemen).

    Birthday Shootout 

  • The shootout at Warlock's birthday party. Pterry and Neil are usually pretty accurate with their firearm writings, so how could they have come up with CIA-issue .32 Magnums capable of turning a person into Pink Mist? .32 is an ineffective round for anything other than varmint hunting, there's no such thing as a .32 Magnum pistol (although there is a fairly rare .32 H&R Magnum revolver), and CIA, who aren't known for issuing firearms to their field agents at all, would have been much more likely to go with 9mm Parabellum or .45 ACP.
    • A revolver IS a pistol. Does the book actually say "automatic" at any point?

     Carmine Zuigiber 
  • Does the name "Zuigiber" hold any significance? It's not a real name, as far as I can tell, but it also doesn't seem to mean "red" or "warmaker" or anything. The closest I can find to any kind of meaning is that "zuig" is Dutch for suction. This does not appear to be relevent.