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Inferno (Inferno #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  4,405 Ratings  ·  259 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
Mass Market Paperback, 237 pages
Published December 2nd 1978 by Pocket (first published October 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 07, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it
Very entertaining SF/F revision of Dante's Inferno with Mussolini as guide through the underworld.

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?

Mike (the Paladin)
Okay first a quick word for you who aren't interested in my "thoughts" on this book and it's predecessor. Not a bad read with "our hero" making his way through "Hell". Readable, well executed...enjoy.

I must mention here that I have for many years (since becoming an adult Christian I suppose would be the time line) I've had a somewhat bad taste in my mouth about The Divine Comedy specifically The Inferno. Most of what people think of today as "Hell" comes from that poem instead of the Bible. The
May 25, 2010 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
Jul 13, 2011 Manny rated it did not like it
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?

Feb 05, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Publisher: Orb Books
Published In: New York, NY
Date: 1976
Pgs: 237

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
Sep 05, 2015 Olethros rated it liked it
-Humor, ajuste de cuentas cariñoso y, a su manera, entretenido.-

Género. Narrativa Fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. El escritor de Ciencia-Ficción Allen Carpentier muerte al caer desde una ventana mientras hacía cosas imprudentes en una convención de Ciencia-Ficción. Cuando despierta, tras un tiempo aparentemente atrapado en algún lugar, cree hallarse en algún tipo de parque temático muy avanzado que homenajea al Infierno de Dante, por mucho que Benito, otro de sus habitantes que se ofrece a acompañ
Jan 29, 2010 Graham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2009 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
J.S. Frankel
Dec 21, 2015 J.S. Frankel rated it it was amazing
Having read this as a teenager--yeah, it's been that long--I found myself rereading it recently and got caught up in the world as imagined--and riffed from Dante Alighieri himself--by Niven. Allen Carpentier nee Carpenter--yes, biblical allusion, don'tcha know--dies accidentally and wakes up in Hell. He meets a guy, a chunky, dumpy sort, doesn't get that he's Mussolini until three-quarters of the way through the book--and journeys through all the levels until he's reached the center of Hell and ...more
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 ...more
Scott Buckley
Aug 02, 2012 Scott Buckley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John Devlin
A fun look at a re-adaptation of Dante w/ Mussolini as your guide.
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jimmy Corvan
May 21, 2010 Jimmy Corvan rated it really liked it
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 ...more
***Dave Hill
Dec 14, 2011 ***Dave Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text, favorites
(Original review:

"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
Apr 13, 2009 Bill rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 19, 2011 Brigitte rated it really liked it
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!
Aug 31, 2011 Andreas rated it really liked it
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.
Terry Chess
May 25, 2014 Terry Chess rated it did not like it
Maybe it's just me, as I've seen many positive reviews of this book here. But,I think the the writing juvenile,the characters cardboard cutouts. For a story that deals with a trip through Hell,it all seems very lighthearted,almost comic. The horrific punishments don't horrify.

For a book that I was really looking forward to,it was a big disappointment. I say pass.
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.
Mar 28, 2011 Amanda rated it did not like it
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!
Dec 27, 2012 Kristopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really an awesome book. I got interested in this book after taking a class that had me reading the original Inferno (yet again!). I like this version so much better than Dante's version.
Jan 22, 2012 Banner rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
Sorry I just couldn't get this one. The premise was interesting, but the execution fell flat.
Feb 01, 2016 Alex marked it as to-read
Recommended to Alex by: janice george
Dude thinks he's just in a shitty amusement park called Infernoland. Rec'd by JG.
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 ...more
Nov 03, 2016 Paul rated it it was ok
This wasn't exactly annoying or anything, but there wasn't much meat on the bones, as they say. Basically just a version of Dante's Inferno but with a science fiction writer as the "tourist". I didn't think there was much drama to the story as it was mostly just an exploration of the world, but there wasn't anything much new either, and despite the fact that they commented endlessly on the fact that they were running into basically all Americans and famous people (despite the untold billions of ...more
Nov 26, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A classic based on a classic.
Oct 10, 2016 Kathi rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I probably would have enjoyed this book more if I were more familiar with Dante's Inferno. I often felt, between the references to that classic and the other, more contemporary references, that there were "in jokes" I was missing. But it was certainly an interesting concept and Allen, the Amin character, made a journey within himself as well as through Hell.
Riley Courter
Oct 04, 2016 Riley Courter rated it really liked it
I really liked it. Good to read in the event of a waiting room or train ride.

Read the angry reviews also, they're great stuff.
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Can I read this before Dante's Inferno? The original one? 5 19 Apr 04, 2014 02:37AM  
Reissue of "Inferno" is "substantially different" from the original? 1 31 Feb 23, 2010 04:59PM  
Comparing to the original 1 47 Apr 09, 2007 09:11AM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Inferno (2 books)
  • Escape from Hell (Inferno, #2)

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“We’re in the hands of infinite power and infinite sadism.” 1 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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