Partnering with the famous poet and suicide, Sylvia Plath, Carpentier is a modern-day Christ who intends to harrow hell and free the damned.
But now that he's returned to this Dantesque inferno, can he ever again leave?
©2009 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"This well-constructed tale will inspire many readers to seek out the original Divine Comedy." (Publishers Weekly)
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"A confused book"
In this book we see the continuing adventures of Alan Carpentier in hell. When we left Carpentier (Inferno) it was the mid 70's the height of the cold-war.
Much has changed in the 30 years between Inferno and Escape from Hell. The world is no longer divided between the U.S. v. Russia. Now countries that were previously thought of as mere "client states" suddenly have a prominence of their own. Since the Cold War the U.S. discovered the rest of the world replete with different countries, faiths, values and aims. The world has changed, Religion has changed and in this book Hell has changed.
In Inferno Hell was populated with westerners who were all at least culturally Christian. But now Hell is much more confused, middle-eastern suicide bombers walk the landscape. Now there is a place for the Mayans, Tribesmen and other "heathens" absent in the first book. Hell is in the midst of a technological upgrade as its records are computerized and the results of Vatican II have caused major bureaucratic nightmares. One is overwhelmed by the confusion raining in hell.
But its not just Hell's management, the book itself seems confused as well. Carpentier doesn't know what he's doing. Whereas inferno wrestled with the paradox of Hell and a Loving God, its not clear what the message of Escape is. The politics alone are idiosyncratic, liberals who invested in school funding experiments that went awry are in Hell as are the architects of the Iraq War. The reasons people are in hell are also strange, Trotsky is in for dividing the communist party and Oppenheimer is in, not for creating the nuclear bomb but for some obscure interpersonal betrayal. Is it intention or actions that gets you sent to hell? It is not clear. Meanwhile Sylvia Plath is an unlikely voice of naive spirituality with a judgmental spirit that would make the inquisition proud.
Flawed, but still an accessible intro to Dante.
"YOU COULD COME WITH ME"
WHAT WAS YOUR SIN?
Actually I have several. Niven and Pournelle used this as a way to complain about modern problems. They hit everyone in New Orleans pretty hard. At first I thought too much so, and then the night I finished the book, the news had a story on the New Orleans Mayor, who had just been convicted of bribery and taking money on construction projects. They hammered hard on scientist that gave false evidence. They mentioned scientists in the 1970's who warned us about a coming Ice Age. They hinted that today's Global Warming Scientist might be scamming us. The talked about DDT and how it should have never been banned and the lives it cost to ban it. They talked about Silicon Breast Implants and how it was never proved they caused any harm. Lawyers got hit hard, etc...
Even though I agreed with a lot they had to say, the book had no plot as of course neither did Daunte's book. I would think two smart writers could visit Hell and have a plot. No character development here, today's readers need more.
I KNOW THE WAY OUT OF HELL
"Amusing, but novelty worn off"
Way back when, I remember really, really liking Inferno. It was a good yarn, well written, amusing, quite a unique and imaginative premise. And so, even though I am generally leery of sequels, I bit and - having used up my credits for the month - bought it. For the most part, it was again amusing. But how many times can you do this? About half way through it started getting tiresome. I began to wonder how it could be that these two protagonists could possibly know about of, or have even met, every single one of these characters that come along? Out of all of Hell, they know EVERYONE that appears? C'mon. And the ending, well, I won't spoil it for everyone but I think it was pretty weak. Still, it had its moments.
I love Niven's and Pournell's works ... well, generally I do. But I have to say that this book is a terrible disappointment. It is a sequel and really adds nothing to the original. It does not have multiple layers that unfold before you. It does not ask questions.
It is a very shallow 'formula' story. Sometimes it reads almost like a children's story - although the subject matter is not for children. Pseudo-spoiler alert. The entire book is a series of the same scene repeated ad nauseum : hero goes up to someone and says "follow me, I'll lead you out of here". That person responds, for some reason he can't leave, and then the hero moves on to a different person.
"Not Awful, But Disappointing"
This book added nothing to Inferno and should not have been written. While I generally agree with the politics of Niven and Pournelle, this book took one cheap shot after another at political figures and causes in the last 25 years. The formula was: mention the name and/or cause of something they didn't like in the last 25 years,put a person associated with the cause in hell with little more than a few sentences regarding why they were in hell. It was really that shallow. I found it annoying even though again I generally agreed with the author's political perspectives.
From a religious perspective it was even more incoherent and at no time came anywhere near a profound idea. About the only thing that was clear is that Niven/Pournelle think whatever the Vatican says is right. I'm not anti-Catholic in any way, but did they need to write a book to say this?
I even found the writing annoying at times. I'd love to have the text in electronic format and search for how many times the phrase "I had to think about that." was said for what I can only think was to indicate to the reader that something profound was just said. If you have to tell the reader that you just said something profound, perhaps it wasn't as profound as you thought!
I like Niven and Pournelle, but even if you too are a fan this is one book you can safely skip. Again, it's not awful, but you won't be missing anything if you use your credit elsewhere.
"More Than a Little Heavy Handed"
The premise of the story was very interesting, but the delivery was terribly heavy handed. The story flowed well except when the authors strained to promote their politics, by setting up strawman versions of points of view that they oppose. Weiner's performance was very good and compensated somewhat for the story's shortcomings.
"Couldn't ask for more."
I never read this one. But to hear it read lent much understanding or should I say much better then reading it. Some day I'll read it. Until then I suspect I'll listen to it again.
"if you lived inferno, you'll love this"
you're through it in 2 days. it was like visiting an old friend. the ending I wanted to hear from the first one.
was it worth of the 40 year wait? pretty much!
"Worst book ever."
This has to be the worst book I have ever listened to or read. I listen for about 45 minutes and still could not get into the story it was just so stupid. I wish I had not wasted my money on it. I would have not have given it a 1 star if I had anything lower to give it.
Disappointment due to a stupid story line.
Don't buy it or take it if given to you.
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