Escape from Hell (novel)

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Escape from Hell
Author Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Country United States
Language English
Genre fantasy
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 336 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-7653-1632-5
OCLC 245537163
813/.54 22
LC Class PS3564.I9 E83 2009
Preceded by Inferno

Escape from Hell is a fantasy novel written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It is a sequel to Inferno, the 1976 Hugo Award- and Nebula Award-nominated book by the same authors. It was released on February 17, 2009.[1]

The novel continues the story of deceased science fiction writer Allen Carpenter (who spelled his name "Carpentier" on his novels) in his quest to help other damned souls in Hell. Like the first book, “Escape from Hell” extensively references Dante's Inferno. Jerry Pournelle, one of the book's co-authors, described the book as "Dante meets Vatican II."[2]


Following events in the first novel, in which Carpenter learned that it is possible to leave Hell, Carpenter wants to help others in the way his benefactor helped him. Carpenter meets and travels through all the circles of the Hell described by Dante. He is accompanied in his travels by Sylvia Plath (whom he rescues from the Wood of the Suicides by burning her tree, causing her physical body to reform itself), attempting to understand the purpose of Hell and free many of the damned. Carpenter discovers that, apparently because he returned to Hell of his own free will to help others, he now possesses powers and abilities such as his mentor, Benito, also displayed.

In his travels, Carpenter meets many well-known individuals deceased as of 2009. In addition to Plath, some of the notables encountered by Carpenter include:

In the end, and partly as the consequence of some unusual changes to Hell itself, Carpenter not so much escapes as that he is shown the door for being a troublemaker.

Critical reception[edit]

Published reviews were mixed. Dave Corby at SF Crowsnest said the book was "For the established fans only."[3] Ivy Reisner at SF Site found it a "thoughtful work." [4]


  1. ^ "Escape from Hell (Hardcover)". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Hickerson, Michael (3 March 2009). "Escape From Hell Author Jerry Pournelle Discusses Computer Geek Hell -- An AMC Interview". Slice of SciFi. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Review by Dave Corby, April 20, 2014
  4. ^ SF Site review, 2009