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Inferno Paperback – September 2, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; First Edition of Reissued Work edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316769
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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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Customer Reviews

The best science fiction I have read.
Richard Farrell
The story zips along smoothly, making the book very hard to put down.
K. Leal
I read this book years ago and am thrilled to find it in print again.
Malorie Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Ivy VINE VOICE on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
The publisher's review, listed above as the product description, isn't accurate. Carpentier wasn't pushed from his luxury apartment; he fell in a freak, drunken accident from a hotel window during a science fiction convention. He doesn't feel like he's landed a great opportunity for a book; he feels disgusted and dismayed at the human suffering around him. He isn't determined to meet Satan; he's determined to get out of there.

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.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on July 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
For some reason this seems to be the only Niven/Pournelle collaboration not in widespread print. Indeed that's sad because this is probably one of the more distinctive of their collective musings, if still definitely having their mark on it. The title was no doubt easy to pick, in case you're wondering if the book has anything to do with that wacky long work of poetry by a certain Italian poet, you're absolutely right. A science fiction writer dies and for some strange reason gets sent to hell, which of course he then proceeds to break down into science fiction terms (figuring he must have gotten sent into the future . . . "Infernoland" I love it!) while events and settings around him defy all sense of logic and physics. It's a rollicking ride through the netheregions, the boys barely give you time to catch your breath as Carpentier attempts to replicate Dante's journey through the place to get the heck out of there. Along the way he runs into the twentieth century versions of sins, some of which you might disagree with, since a bunch are political in nature but I found most of them fairly funny and the authors don't hit you over the head with their social commentary. He also runs into some notorious historical figures and the identity of his guide is at first so seemingly obvious that you can't believe that they had the gall to actually include him in the book and then you wonder how come Carpenter doesn't realize until long after you do. A great companion to Dante's poem, it raises a few religious questions just to give you something to think about but overall it's a fun read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Van Court VINE VOICE on October 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dante's Inferno had sinners chased through forests by evil hounds, and all the punitive mechinations available to the medieval mind hard at work. Niven and Pournelle added all the cruelties that humanity has created for itself since then. As a vain and self-centered science fiction author transits Hell in the company of a repentant Mussolini, the 'new cruelty' is hard at work.

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
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bruce D. Wilner on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Niven and Pournelle duo has written a wide array of science fiction novels of dramatically variable quality. Therefore, I was not expecting much when I bought "Inferno," but I figured that--for such a brief work (way fewer than two hundred pages)--I really had nothing to lose. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! What a wacky adventure! You see, after being chucked out the window of his luxury apartment, Carpentier "awakens" to find himself tucked into a bottle among the limitless detritus strewn about a sandy plain. He is extricated and helped to his feet by--of all things--the ghost of Benito Mussolini. Being rather derogatively classified by the judge of the dead, Carpentier reluctantly accepts not only his fate, but also--determined to see Satan and sort out the mess--Mussolini's offer to conduct him through the nine layers of Hell to the Master's abode. Our hero is exposed to a limitless variety of both psychological torments (like the team on the riverbank that frenetically builds a bridge while the team on the opposite bank equally frantically tears it down) and classic physical tortures. One wonders whether the authors actually read Dante or merely adopted what they needed from a more lightweight source, perhaps Blake's excerpted illustrations prepared in accompaniment thereto. Carpentier ultimately makes it through all nine layers and--well, I won't tell you the ending and spoil the story.Read more ›
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