A few years ago, I happened into my favorite independently owned and operated local bookstore, and found an amazing gem of a book.
I wasn’t at all familiar with Terry Pratchett, though I had a tentative love for Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is clever and entertaining, but I personally don’t find him very funny. I was enchanted with the intelligent humor in Good Omens, which is sort of a parody of The Screwtape Letters ( incidentally, Screwtape is my least favorite C. S. Lewis book ever). Satirizing satire is always fun, and the conclusions these two authors managed to make had me deliriously giddy with delight.
From the first chapter (Thanks, Harper Collins!):
Current theories on the creation of the Universe state that, if it was created at all and didn’t just start, as it were, unofficially, it came into being between ten and twenty thousand million years ago. By the same token the earth itself is generally supposed to be about four and a half thousand million years old.
These dates are incorrect.
Medieval Jewish scholars put the date of the Creation at 3760 B.C. Greek Orthodox theologians put Creation as far back as 5508 B.C.
These suggestions are also incorrect.
Archbishop James Usher (1580–1656) published Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti in 1654, which suggested that the Heaven and the Earth were created in 4004 B.C. One of his aides took the calculation further, and was able to announce triumphantly that the Earth was created on Sunday the 21st of October, 4004 B.C., at exactly 9:00 A.M., because God liked to get work done early in the morning while he was feeling fresh.
This too was incorrect. By almost a quarter of an hour.
The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur skeletons was a joke the paleontologists haven’t seen yet.
This proves two things:
Firstly, that 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 infi nite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
Secondly, the Earth’s a Libra.
You can see where I might get a little excited about this book off the bat. If you can’t… why are you reading my blog, anyway?
Fast forward a year or so, when I was back to full-time Tom Robbins love, and happened to start seeing a serious Terry Pratchett fan. A fan that owns every Discworld novel ever, and had them stacked up awkwardly all over his house. At the time, I was something of a genre snob. “I don’t usually read fantasy,” I’d sneer. “It’s full of unicorn-laden glades and heaving-bosomed run-ons, and none if it is punctuated properly…” But I made an exception for the man that co-wrote Good Omens, when my boyfriend gifted me with a copy of Going Postal.
Terry Pratchett is so wonderful that he even makes up great words, like gevaisa (“tomb of living words”). And Going Postal was seriously awesome for a plethora of other reasons, too. So I read Wyrd Sisters and Equal Rites and a few more. And then, last night, I stayed up all night long and read Sourcery on my Fire, because it’s back-lit so I can read when I have insomnia but am too lazy to be bothered with lights. It was groovy, too. But a smart thing to do is not read Terry Pratchett novels when you have insomnia, because they make you want to stay up to see what happens next. So don’t do that unless you plan on staying up until you finish the novel.
When you do, there are plenty more of them waiting.