Here is a review I wrote for a different, now defunct, blog (this will also help explain the differences in review format).
Originally published in 1976, Tor reprint 2008. Trade paper 234 pages.
My rating: 8/10
Inferno, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is an imaginative and thought provoking retelling of Dante Alighieri's (1265-1321) Inferno from his Divine Comedy.
Alan Carpentier was a science fiction writer attempting to secure the attentions of adoring SciFi fans at a convention by sitting upon a windowsill guzzling a bottle of rum while not touching the sides. The window was eight stories up. He ends up plummeting to his death.
What follows is a trip through the rings and bolgias of Hell as Alan is guided by Benito Mussolini--whose identity he only learns of later on in his journey.
I found this book in a local Indie store and I will freely admit that the cover (facing out) was what caught my attention first. I have long been a Niven fan, but also being a medievalist--I could not resist the lure and promise this trade paper tome held.
I took my new prize home and flipped open the publishing information and quickly realized how long ago this work had been in print. From the historical point of view--in terms of when this was written and being a historian who specializes in the era in which Dante was active--Niven and Pournelle did an excellent job.
There are certain points--such as homosexuals being labeled as serious sinners--that might turn off some readers. This novel should come with a caveat concerning what it is based on and when it was written. I was unsure whether I would like, or buy, Benito Mussolini as Vergil's replacement...but towards the end I found his role as a guide oddly fitting.
I found it to be a light and engaging read that I, at times, attempted to over analyze. One comes away with the sense that the concept of Sin is in the eye of the beholder. What gluttony encompasses, for example, is redefined. Gluttons are not just those who are morbidly obese or those who eat and drink too much. Gluttony is any obsession over food and drink thus the overly health conscious might also find themselves sentenced to the third circle.
At the heart of the work, Niven and Pournelle answer the question of what would hell look like in 1976 and what were the possible repercussions of Dante's and Virgil's journey--what has changed?
I will be excited to get my hands on the sequel which has been published 33 years after Inferno's initial release.
Free Book - Crogian (K/DF)
2 hours ago