Allen Carpenter, a science fiction author, dies in a stupid stunt at a scifi convention and finds himself in the vestibule of Hell – as described by Dante. Like Dante, Allen has an Italian guide through Hell, traversing all circles in an attempt to escape. Just as Dante met an amazing number of his own contemporaries in his travels, Allen runs into many he knew in life. As Allen goes lower and lower into Hell, he finds it is exactly as Dante had described.
Pournelle and Niven have updated the sins for a "modern" era (food faddists in the glutton's level, diehard industrialists and environmentalists battling each other in Hell, a dig at L. Ron Hubbard for starting a false religion and another dig at Vonnegut for his vacuity).
Jerry Eugene Pournelle (1933-2017) was an American science fiction writer, essayist, and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. In 2011, he joined journalist Gina Smith, pundit John C. Dvorak, political cartoonist Ted Rall and several other Byte.com staff reporters to launch an independent tech and political news site aNewDomain.
Pournelle served as President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1973 and served aNewDomain Media as its director until his death. He is recognized as the first author to have written a published book contribution using a word processor on a personal computer, in 1977.