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Inferno (Inferno #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,706 Ratings  ·  282 Reviews
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 Hell led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless men
Paperback, 237 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Pocket Books (first published October 1975)
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Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 23, 2010 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
Jul 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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?

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)
Amanda--A Scientist Reads
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
A retelling of Inferno by Dante, through the eyes of science fiction writer Allen Carpentier. Our protagonist meets his untimely end while trying to impress science fiction fans at a con meetup by mixing an overly large alcohol bottle and a balcony ledge.

Nominated in 1976 for both the Hugo and Nebula awards, this is a humorous take on a traditionally somber trip through hell. While the overlay of Dante's world is apparent, newer additions were sprinkled throughout would, such as hoarders agains
J.S. Frankel
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 and Pournelle. 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 cente ...more
Jan 29, 2012 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
-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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2009 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
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
Scott Buckley
Aug 02, 2012 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
omg, you guys, gnats are so annoying they're probably in hell. HAHAHAHAHA! And you know what else? Lawyers and ad execs are annoying, so they're probably in hell, too. AHAHAHAHA! And sci-fi writers are so pedantic and skeptical, I bet they wouldn't believe they were in hell until they investigated every other possible explanation.I bet they would annoy the demons! AHAHAHAHA! And what about that Mussolini...

A sci-fi convention joke that's probably best served as a sci-fi convention joke. Go home,
Terry Chess
May 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
John Devlin
A fun look at a re-adaptation of Dante w/ Mussolini as your guide.
Mar 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
While I generally like the idea of turning Dante's Inferno into a SciFi pulp novel, Niven's and Pournelle's interpretation of the great Italian classic is not without its flaws. After the hilarious opening sequence at a fan convention, the protagonist and science fiction writer Alan Carpentier starts wandering through hell with good old Virgil being replaced by none other than infamous Italian fascist Benito Mussolini. And this is basically where the problems begin: The authors jump from one pla ...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jimmy Corvan
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

I have this notion that spoofs and satires ought to be held to a high standard. It can't be that difficult to slip in some jokes and irony into a story, and life tells me that the common man can mock. So the quality satirist must add depth, detail, allegories, and metafictional awareness. Because destruction comes so much more easily than construction, I envision the satirist as taking on the dual challenge - deconstructing that which is b
***Dave Hill
Dec 14, 2011 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
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Nov 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Sorry I just couldn't get this one. The premise was interesting, but the execution fell flat.
Feb 01, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alex by: janice george
Dude thinks he's just in a shitty amusement park called Infernoland. Rec'd by JG.
Dec 10, 2012 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.
Justen S
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strong summary.

Inferno is a book about an agnostic science fiction writer named Allen Carpenter who, in a drunken attempt to entertain his fans, ends up dying and finds himself in a modern version of a fourteenth century classic, Dante’s Inferno. Carpenter goes on a journey through the nine circles of hell, finding friends and foes alike, all in a desperate attempt to get to the center and make an escape.

A sophisticated opinion.

My opinion is that even though this book was set in Dante’s Infern
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Goodreads Librari...: Please correct cover 7 14 Apr 29, 2017 01:02PM  
Can I read this before Dante's Inferno? The original one? 5 20 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 48 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)
“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.” 2 likes
“We’re in the hands of infinite power and infinite sadism.” 1 likes
More quotes…