Saturday, January 31, 2009

Escape From Hell

Ooooo! Niven & Pournelle's Escape From Hell is coming out on February 17th. It's the sequel to their Inferno. I wonder if I should put it into my Amazon shopping cart.

I always thought that Niven & Pournelle wrote better novels together than either of them did on their own though I can't speak with any authority about their more recent work since I stopped reading them many years ago. And while I can still remember that I liked or disliked this or that title, I can't recall much about them any more. However, I've read Inferno many times, most recently about two years ago while I was also reading Dante. (That was fun!)

Of course, the novel doesn't buy into the whole Catholic concept of hell, sin, and purgatory, but it was a clever concept and a lot of fun. And I'm willing to suspend a fair amount of disbelief in exchange for a light and funny romp. Especially since the main character, Allen Carpenter, was forced by circumstance reexamine his basic assumptions about life, the universe, and everything.

Can Niven & Pournelle do it again? Would some of the aspects that intrigued me still be there? Do I want to spend $16.47 (preorder price) to find out?

Actually, it's not just a budgetary matter. Ever since becoming a widow, I've lost much of my book-buying enthusiasm. Part of the fun of building the library was being able to share it with someone. But now I'm alone.

As homeschooling parents we also used to tell ourselves that we were building the library not just for ourselves, but for our children -- so that they would have the joy of discovering strange and wonderful books in the family library as they grew up. But now they're grown, mostly gone, and not likely to come browsing round our shelves.

Eternity seems so close sometimes, and they say that you can't take it with you. As I look around at my wall-to-wall shelves, I begin to think that I probably won't even be able to read all the books I've already got. Is there any point to piling up more?

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