Inferno (Inferno, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Inferno (Inferno #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,383 ratings  ·  201 reviews
This is the 6th Pocket printing.
Cover Artist: Harry Bennett

After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he's landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante's road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of
...more
Mass Market Paperback, 237 pages
Published December 2nd 1978 by Pocket (first published October 1975)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Inferno, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Inferno

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le GuinGrass by Sheri S. TepperParable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerThe Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonCircle of Five by Jan Raymond
Most Under-rated Science Fiction
21st out of 1,022 books — 1,020 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
443rd out of 4,195 books — 15,384 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Keith
I first read this book as a young teenager, and enjoyed it tremendously. It is possible that if I had first read it today, I would only give it four stars...

Allen Carpenter is a science fiction writer. After he dies in a drunken accident he wakes up in the "vestibule" of Hell, a Hell largely matching the description found in Dante's Inferno. Carpenter is a rationalist and a non-believer, so at first he tries find rational explanations for his new environment---his fans had his body frozen after...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. Clever, well thought out re-telling of Dante's Inferno.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1976)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1976)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1977)
Mark
Inferno
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Publisher: Orb Books
Published In: New York, NY
Date: 1976
Pgs: 237

Summary:
Imagine not being able to feel anything...not being able to see anything. And it goes on...and on...seemingly forever. Until you call out to God, and you feel the bottle open and you are poured out from your own private Hell into Hell. Benito has rescued you. And he has a plan. All you have to do is follow him downward through the deeper and darker sections of Dante’s Hell in search o...more
Graham
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Manny
Niven and Pournelle rewrite Dante as a pulp SF novel. Well, it would perhaps have been funny as a short story, but as it was I just felt appalled after a while.

I wonder which level of Hell they're going end up in for doing this? My guess is the Tenth Bolgia of the Eighth Circle ("various sorts of falsifiers: alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and impersonators"). Any other suggestions?


Patrick Gibson
Dante Alighieri gets a makeover and his journey to hell is led by a science fiction writer named Carpentier whose fans let him accidently kill himself at a sci-fi convention. Carpentier, at first, has some ethical and practical questions about being dead—mainly how he is capable of thinking about being dead if he is dead. Before slipping off a window sill with a half emptied bottle of rum he mentions the name of God to his adoring fans. It’s this utterance that places him in limbo after his reck...more
Justin
I've always been a fan of Dante Alighieri's Inferno, having read it multiple times for pleasure and never once as an assignment, and so I was intrigued by the "reimagining" of Dante's trek through Hell on the way to salvation.

This time around, the pilgrim is a science-fiction writer (and insufferable douche) named Allen Carpenter, who finds himself in the Vestibule of Hell after a drunken stunt at a sci-fi convention for the benefit of unappreciative fans goes unfortunately wrong. He is discover...more
***Dave Hill
(Original review: http://hill-kleerup.org/blog/2009/06/...)

"Inferno", for those who haven’t read it, is a revisiting of Dante’s playground, only in this case it’s an untimely dead mid-grade SF writer dealing disbelievingly with a somewhat updated Hell, led by a mysterious figure who promises the way out can be found at the bottom. Great satire, fun SF, and some decent philosophy, too.

The “Authors’ Preferred Edition” introduces a bit more text — mostly explanations and expansions on the philosoph...more
Bill
Apr 13, 2009 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs, Sci-fi/Fantasy fans
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Buckley
What I liked about it?
- Dante's Inferno, but better. Dante was never afraid of his journey through hell - Allen Carpentier (our protagonist) most definitely is. He has a lot more riding on it, and that makes it much more captivating.
- Cameos from history's most infamous characters
- Gory, but funny as hell (pun intended).

What I didn't like about it?
- It ended.

Should you read it?
Hell yes. Ha! It was morbidly hilarious, and indulged my twinge for the dark side of religion, complete with scary demo...more
Andreas
Author Allen Carpentier is at a science fiction convention when he falls out of the window of his hotel room. He finds himself in Hell. Determined to grasp control of the situation and achieve redemption, he starts on a journey through a slightly modified version of Dante‘s hell, guided by a man called Benito.

The idea behind this novel is classic. A modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno! Great fun despite the subject matter.

http://www.books.rosboch.net/?p=1068
Brigitte
A very fun and somewhat emotional modern_day sequel to Dante's Inferno. The writers pay great homage to the original in a humble and relatable story, and I really enjoyed the depth of the characters for such a short novel. Having loved The Divine Comedy, I found this to be a wonderful and witty tribute to Dante Alighieri's masterpiece with the characteristic skepticism and humor of Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. Read the original first!
Rowan O'bryan
I can't find this anywhere! it's a story about a science fiction writer who dies accidentally and goes to hell. he finds it to be exactly like Dante described it. since he does not think he's supposed to be there at all, he has to descend to the final circle of hell and climb up the devil's maybe asshole? to escape. long time.
Lyn
Very entertaining revision of Dante's classic. Written in 1976, this apparently caused quite a stir back then, but many of Niven's fresh ideas have dulled since. Still very creative and imaginative and leaves the reader wondering who is better: Benito Mussolini or a science fiction writer?
Keith Blodgett
An interesting book that's not quite sci-fi and not quite fantasy. Have read this several times over the years and it's always nice to come back to. Well worth reading.

BTW, the GoodReads summary is wrong, he wasn't pushed, he fell.
Amanda
Not to be confused with the classic, this is a book that is in fact a total ripoff of the aforementioned story with the added bonus of a dash of bigotry and homophobia. Awesome!
Rebecca Mckenzie
Not my cup of tea at all, being it's science fiction. It was a book club choice. The most I got out of this book was I learned a new word "solipsistically' in Chapter 16 "After an eternity we reached the other shore and let ourselves fall, each wrapped silently and solipsistically in his own pain". That sentence along with one at the end of the book, "Hell was the violent ward of a hospital for the theologically insane', pretty much sum up my thoughts on this book. But on a good note, I managed...more
Critter Reyome
I read this book when it first came out, when it was part of a wave of what I thought of as "pop" science fiction. Niven and Pournelle were on something of a roll, having won a truckload (star cruiser load?) of awards for "The Mote In God's Eye" and followed that with the hugely exciting "Lucifer's Hammer", not the first book to deal with the thought of a comet hitting the earth, but likely the most popular. "Inferno" though was a strange departure for this pair…a writer of sci-fi (naturally) di...more
Jimmy Corvan
As a big fan of Dante's original Inferno, I went into this book thinking that it could not possibly be as wonderful as the poem. Good, bad or indifferent, I was right. The entire feeling of the original work has been stripped from this version. Niven and Pournelle take some very gracious liberties with this decent through hell, the most annoying of which, is the creation of a ridiculously bureaucratic Hell (almost to the point of hilarity). The addition of filling out necessary forms and paperwo...more
Sarah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael
A science fiction writer (Alan Carpentier) falls from a balcony, and dies. Only he doesn't believe he has died, he thinks he has been transported to another planet, or perhaps another dimension. But, the reality is that he has died, and now exists in Hell, as rendered by Dante Alighieri.. He needs a lot of convincing that this is true. The arguments and debates between Alan and Benito become the basis of the novel. Yes, his escort, Benito, minces no words, is truthful, and forthcoming, yet Alan...more
Joan
Oct 29, 2013 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English teachers maybe, and Dante lovers, maybe. Sci fi fans probably.
Unsurprisingly, this is based on Dante's Inferno. If you didn't guess that in advance, the dedication to Dante is a pretty solid hint. Basically, it is the medieval tale updated to the 20th century. There are racing cars in this Hell that have no problem going over and through people. (Did I mention this is most definitely NOT a kids' book?) The main character, Sci Fi writer, Carpentier, has a very 20th century guide. Billy the Kid is a character in this book. Some modern day sins are slotted in...more
Andrew
Very intersting.

At first I was a little bit disappointed at the lack of creativity for the gruesome things that happen to the evil people of this world, to atone for their crimes.

But then I realized, to the books credit, that it was partially an homage to Dante, and partially a criticism, and full of depth. I have not read Dante's version, so I can only speculate, through this book's admittance, upon the similarities with the origional rendition.

Well crafted and well written. The main character'...more
Alexis Neal
After spending unknown hours (days? Weeks? Months?) is some sort of limbo state, deceased science fiction writer Allen Carpentier finds himself plopped down in the middle of a deserted wasteland, which he is informed is “the Vestibule of Hell.” Carpentier is understandably skeptical, and persistently resists the assistance of his rescuer/guide, a mustachioed gentleman by the name of Benito. Benito is intent on coaxing Carpentier into Hell (here an updated version of Dante’s nine-circle geography...more
Kathryn
This book, which I read for my Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club tomorrow night (August 13, 2013), and which is a book I picked for the book club, asks the question: what if someone was to die and find oneself in a Hell that is, for all practical purposes, Dante’s Inferno? This book asks that question, and I think gives very good answers, with certain sections of the Inferno updated for the late 20th century. (And it is a book I love.)

Allen Carpentier, formerly Carpenter, is a science-fiction author who...more
Joseph  Hartsfield
I think Inferno is a really good book, the plot is very suspenseful, and has well developed ideas that relate to both scientific and science fiction plot. the theme of this story is very unique. I think that the message is about a an interpretation about the bible, not of heaven,but of hell. Carpentier is a developed character, and seems to grow throughout the story starting out as not believing, the to a person who says "what if".the story is very complex it full of action, and a lot of metapho...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Edward
I was a freshman in 1962 at Mount de Sales, a Catholic High School, and Religious Studies, or whatever it was called, was a boring, boring class. We began reading Dante’s Inferno and it was a riot. This book was so bizarre, with its topology of hell, mythical beasts, and cartoon devils, I just couldn’t take it as gospel, which it wasn’t the nun pointed out.

I saw it as sanctioned Science Fiction! Earlier in the year, I’d taken a Frederick Pohl library book to school to read on the bus, and it wa...more
Jeffrey Daniels
Uninformed as I am of today's English class curriculum, it would be unsafe to assume Dante's "Inferno" is still on required reading lists. Following that line of reasoning, it's pointless to say that "Inferno" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle takes Dante's work and ALMOST sets it on its ear.

The stage of Dante's story was that Hell had rings of the damned, each ring serving as that particular level of sinner's just punishment. It is a thoughtful and mind-expanding work and highly recommended.

No...more
Thomas Pfaff
Aug 16, 2007 Thomas Pfaff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: agnostics
This is sort of another Larry Niven book. Jerry Pournelle wrote it, Niven contributed somehow.

This book is about an imaginary trip through hell. My recollection is that a man, frozen in storage (his soul at least) is awakend by somebody. He remembers/finds out enough about Dante Allighieri's dream that he pursues the different levels of hell. Along the way he picks up a buddy who says they can find their way out of hell and ascent into heaven.

I thought it was humorous that Pournelle decided to h...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Can I read this before Dante's Inferno? The original one? 5 15 Apr 04, 2014 02:37AM  
Reissue of "Inferno" is "substantially different" from the original? 1 29 Feb 23, 2010 04:59PM  
Comparing to the original 1 41 Apr 09, 2007 09:11AM  
  • Shadrach in the Furnace
  • Against Infinity
  • The Boat of a Million Years
  • When Harlie Was One
  • Courtship Rite
  • The Computer Connection
  • Eternity's End (Star Rigger, #6)
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • On Wings of Song
  • Empire of the East (Empire of the East, #1-3)
  • The Exile Waiting
  • Mother of Storms
  • Past Master
  • Starplex
  • Project Pope
  • Beggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2)
  • City on Fire (Metropolitan, #2)
  • Ivory (Birthright #14)
12534
Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths...more
More about Larry Niven...
Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) The Mote in God's Eye (Moties, #1) Lucifer's Hammer The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2) Footfall

Share This Book

“Dead. I had to be dead. But dead men don't think about death. What do dead men think about? Dead men don't think. I was thinking - but I was dead. That struck me as funny and set off hysterics. And then I'd get myself under control and go 'round and 'round with it again. Dead. This was like nothing any religion had ever taught. Not that I'd ever 'caught' any of the religions going around. But none had warned of this.” 0 likes
More quotes…