Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Book Review: Escape from Hell

A few months back I read "Inferno" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It's about a science fiction writer who dies and goes to hell. He goes through Hell with Benito Mussolini as his guide. It came out in the 70's and is credited with a renewal of interest in "Dante's Inferno".

I've just finished reading the sequel to that book, "Escape from Hell". Rather than escape at the end of the first book the main character goes back to continue Benito's quest to liberate other souls who have reformed.

The first half of the book has him telling of his travels to Sylvia Plath who, because she committed suicide, is stuck in the form of a tree. He has to set fire to her to change her to a form that can travel on it's own. Then they continue on to the bottom of Hell.

While in Hell they see Ken Lay, Carl Sagan, Hitler and Stalin locked in an eternal fight, Anna Nicole Smith, several bureaucrats from New Orleans, and a host of others.

When I've reviewed other Larry Niven books I've lamented the tendency of writers to lose a certain something in their later years. That is not true of "Escape from Hell". This is one of his better books. I'd rank it near "Ringworld". You don't need to be a science fiction reader to appreciate this book. It's a more readable version of Dante's book.

I recommend this book.

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