From Publishers Weekly
In the long-awaited sequel to 1976's Hugo and Nebula–nominated Inferno
, dead science fiction writer Allen Carpenter returns to the nine circles of Dante's Hell on a quest. After witnessing infamous fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (Carpenter's Virgil-like guide in Inferno
) escape from the confines of Hell, Carpenter vows to make the nightmarish journey again and liberate as many tortured souls as possible. Poet Sylvia Plath, recently freed from the Wood of Suicides, accompanies Carpenter, as do a diverse cast of notorious historic figures, including Pontius Pilate, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Anna Nicole Smith. This well-constructed tale will inspire many readers to seek out the original Divine Comedy
, but fans of Inferno
may find that the landscape and the plot are a little too familiar. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In Inferno (1976), Niven and Pournelle updated Dante for the modern age, swapping medieval torments for more contemporary ones. At the end of the book, its protagonist, deceased sf writer Allen Carpenter, accompanied by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, discovered a way out of hell’s nine circles but remained profoundly disturbed by the underworld’s unjust punishments. Now survivor’s guilt has driven Carpenter back to the damned’s domain to attempt a wholesale rescue of its tortured denizens. His sidekick this time is the poet Sylvia Path, with whom Carpenter shares an uncommon literary perspective on their surroundings. In their trek through hell’s darkest corners, the pair enlists the aid of such historic figures as J. Robert Oppenheimer, J. Edgar Hoover, and militant atheist Bertrand Russell. Satan, however, has other ideas. While the territory is perhaps too littered with celebrities in this installment, Niven and Pournelle’s further life experience helps them add gravitas to Carpenter’s philosophical contemplations. Meanwhile, their collaborative narrative magic is as compelling as ever. --Carl Hays