Review: Inferno

Blackstone audio has been doing a great, albeit odd, job lately of producing audio books of slightly obscure 70 s.f. .  They’ve been working on Philip K. Dick’s better but lesser known novels (Dr. Bloodmoney, Martian Time Slip), and now they’ve tackled Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s classic  novel, Inferno.

Given the name, the book yields few surprises.  A mid-list s.f. author dies at a convention and then follows Dante’s footsteps on a tour of Hell, with Mussolini as his guide.  But the book has some real style to it.  Allen Carpentier makes for a great protagonist thanks to his rationizations of everything he witnesses in what he desperately hopes is Infernoland.  There’s also the book’s now largely forgotten playfullness in which a number of people within the s.f. community of the time are encountered in hell and get pretty brutally ridiculed.

It’s a very dorky novel, but a lot of fun.  And supposedly there’s a sequel coming out this year (is 30 years between novels a records of some sort), which may actually be good.

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