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Inferno Paperback – September 2, 2008
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A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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“Inferno is quite literally a cake walk through hell, with a science fiction writer as Dante and Benito Mussolini as Virgil. I kid you not, Pournelle and Niven have had the chutzpah to re-write Dante's Inferno as if they were some unholy hybrid of Roger Zelazny, Robert Heinlein, and Phil Jose Farmer. You are right there in the nether-reaches of the ultimate Sam Peckinpah movie with all the matter-of-fact solidity of a Hal Clement novel. It gets to you, it really does. This being lunacy of a transcendent order.” ―Norman Spinrad
“A dazzling tour de force.” ―Poul Anderson on Inferno
“A fast, amusing and vivid book, by a writing team noted for intelligence and imagination.” ―Roger Zelazny on Inferno
About the Author
Larry Niven is the award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces, and fantasy novels including the Magic Goes Away series. He has received the Nebula Award, five Hugos, four Locus Awards, two Ditmars, the Prometheus, and the Robert A. Heinlein Award, among other honors. He lives in Chatsworth, California.
Jerry Pournelle is an essayist, journalist, and science fiction author. He has advanced degrees in psychology, statistics, engineering, and political science. He lives in Studio City, California.
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Top Customer Reviews
So, for a correct description, after his sudden death, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier finds himself along the shores of Hell, with a strange guide who wishes only to be known as Benito, a Hell visited once before by Dante Alighieri. This Hell has changed some, and Carpentier visits some places Dante missed, but where Dante mocked the denizens of Hell, and meekly followed as he was led, Carpentier shows pity and mercy to those he meets, and he's determined to take control of the situation he finds himself in. We're treated to a delightful cast of characters, some from history and others from an imagined future world. This is a masterwork from the pen of two great authors, and it is not to be missed.
But Niven and Pournelle have tried here to put a technically savvy protagonist into the thick of it, who tries to make sense of the parameters that seem to govern entrance into, and existence within Hell. Carpentier postulates a being named Big Juju (he resists the name "God" or "Satan") who has mastered physical law on a scale so massive that it seems to be Biblical, but only 'seems' to. But he ultimately relents, and discovers that it is all about getting people's attention.
As one other reviewer pointed out, this novel doesn't just "explore the concept" - it offers a possible explanation of why humans would be damned to infinite punishment for doing things that are tiny in comparison.
A techie gets an abject lesson in spirituality, and the premise of the book is summed up beautifully by Carpentier in a single succinct statement, near the end of the story: "Hell is the violent ward in a hospital for the theologically insane."
Does our protagonist become religious? By the end of this book, he certainly becomes stronger and more selfless. Can't wait for the sequel!
Some sins are revisited, as a fashion model is punished for her obsession with her diet along with classic gluttons also being punished for their obsession with their diets, and a teacher who falsey diagnosed learning disabilities rather than work with slower students suffers in the ring reserved for practicioners of evil magic. Other punishments are revised, as Corvettes (the cars, not the ships) replace hell hounds, and bureaucratic, administrative perfection is required of the residents and enforced by demons. Truly a disturbing vision of eternal punishment.
Through all this, the underlying message is hope and the possibility of redemption, even for the worst offenders.
A brilliant XXth century interpretation of Dante, and well worth reading. Powerful prose and vivid imagery brings this one to life.
E.M. Van Court
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First things first: to those who announce to the public who guides Allen through hell has given the readers one of the main SPOILERS of the book, and you should not be allowed to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kiki1701
The writing is magnificent, as with all of the authors' work, but I found the book to be a lot less engaging than usual. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rodion
Great book based on Dante's trip through Hell only this is a Science fiction writer who makes the trip. Well worth the read. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Smitty
Read this years ago that prompted me to read the original Dante's Inferno. It was entertaining on the "mild" front compared to Dante's and enough for me to read it again.Published 12 months ago by D. Vick
A good read from a well known writing team. This is a re-imagining of Dante's journey through Hell, as told by a narrator who finds himself in what he first believes to be an alien... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stephen T.
This is one of the best novels ever written. The story is fast-paced and super interesting.Published 14 months ago by Dempsey L. Wilson