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Thread: Go to Hell

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    Go to Hell

    I was wondering about fantasy and horror novels, stories, or series in which the protagonists go to Hell. Or Hades, or Jigoku, or what have you; a tour of an actually, actively unpleasant afterlife vision. Modern authors doing Dante's Inferno.

    I remember Nifft the Lean, and Edward Lee's City Infernal, and I guess The Amber Spyglass too. Tanith Lee's Azhrarn rules a demonic underworld called Druhim Vanashta. And, well, there's Sartre's No Exit, but I'm interested here in elements of the fantastic, visions of extraordinary otherworlds tied in with religious systems of belief.

    I hope the moderators don't mind my sense of humor in titling this as I did.

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    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    The recently-released Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan, an Urban Fantasy (an actual urban fantasy, not a PNR-disguised-as-UF) builds up to the protag going to Hell - I only got about halfway but it didn't seem like it was far off. It's the first book in a new trilogy.

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    Thanks, Loerwyn! That does seem like an interesting Urban Fantasy (in an archaic usage of the term ).

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    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Liz Williams has a very interesting series featuring Detective Inspector Chen, who who specialises in supernatural murders and gets as partner a demon from Hell. We're talking Chinese mythology here, start with Snake Agent.

    Larry Niven has two books that I haven't read yet, but fit: Inferno and Escape from Hell.

    Philip Jose Farmer - I only read To Your Scattered Bodies Go, a long time ago, but I seem to remember it dealt with the afterlife.

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    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I highly recommend Liz Williams' Inspector Chen series also.

    Also try Hal Duncan's short novel Escape From Hell! And Tim Marquitz' Demon Squad series is a lot of fun.

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    Vanaeph Westsiyeed's Avatar
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    Jeff Vandermeer's Veniss Underground comes to mind; a descent into Dantean hell. Definitely recommended.

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    Registered User MattNY's Avatar
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    This thread is going to be one for me to follow and takes notes. Outside of Dante, I really have not read any other novels with a similar story structure.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn View Post
    not a PNR-disguised-as-UF)
    Sorry, having only recently decided to try and wring some discussion out of the fantasy/sci-fi community, I'm not current on all the abbreviations yet.

    What is a "PNR"?

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    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    A few others.

    Martin Amis's Other People. In a way, just listing it here is a bit of a spolier, though I suppose--given that title--not much of one.

    Kathryn Davis's novel Hell is, title notwithstanding, only marginally relevant, but you might look at reviews and descriptions.

    Alasdair Gray's Lanark: A Life in Four Books appears to take place at least partially in Hell.

    Flann O'Brien's wonderful tale The Third Policeman also fits (and, again, even listing it here is a bit of a spoiler).

    Charles Williams' Descent into Hell is actually set in this world, but it is a chilling prelude to, well, Hell.

    Oh, and on the light side, there is Terry Pratchett's Eric (a Diskworld novel).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Pendragon View Post
    Sorry, having only recently decided to try and wring some discussion out of the fantasy/sci-fi community, I'm not current on all the abbreviations yet.

    What is a "PNR"?

    Welcome! PNR is paranormal romance.

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    Registered User MattNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Pendragon View Post
    Sorry, having only recently decided to try and wring some discussion out of the fantasy/sci-fi community, I'm not current on all the abbreviations yet.

    What is a "PNR"?
    I see Mister answered..but don't worry, I did not know either.

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    Can I just say that this thread is the best and fastest response I've gotten to anything I've posted here? There are already SO MANY suggestions to look into, for what I thought was a weird/obscure corner of the bookshelf. THANK YOU ALL!

  13. #13
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Paranormal romances are never disguised as urban fantasies. They're trying to reach their main audiences. You guys just never pay attention to back cover blurbs properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister View Post
    Can I just say that this thread is the best and fastest response I've gotten to anything I've posted here? There are already SO MANY suggestions to look into, for what I thought was a weird/obscure corner of the bookshelf. THANK YOU ALL!
    Are you kidding? Hell/angels/demons are one of the most popular areas of fantasy fiction and horror. Do you know how many different fantasy novels on Satan there have been? Speaking of which, it doesn't descend into Hell exactly but try Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

    There's also Janet Morris' Heroes in Hell, which is a shared world series with lots of different authors doing stories like C.J. Cherryh, David Drake and Robert Silverberg. Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven did one called also Escape from Hell, as previously noted. Parke Godwin did a SF take on it in Waiting For the Galactic Bus and its sequel. C.S. Lewis very famously did The Screwtape Letters. Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come has a very Dante component for part of the story.

    Steven Brust wrote To Reign in Hell, which you might like. There's the anthology Must Love Hellhounds. Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series is all about Hell. Richelle Mead has a contemporary fantasy series about a succubus that involves Hell (and no, it's not a paranormal romance series; it's a thriller series.) Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series is about a necromancer hired by the Devil. Robert Olen Butler's Hell is a satire about a newscaster in Hell. Tad Williams just started a new series about a flawed angel, so that might go into Hell, and for a variation, Jacqueline Carey has a new series that involves the Norse goddess Hel. Alan Campbell's Scar Night is about a secondary world where there is a type of Hell. Peter Brett's Demon Cycle is about a world full of demons. And Helen Lowe's The Wall of Night does a take on that. And one recently whose title I can't remember -- two half-demons on a secondary world where demons are hunted.

    In comics/graphic novels, there's Hellboy, John Constantine and Ghostrider, just to start.

    There are whole demons, half-demons, soul collectors, etc. There are multi-dimensional hells, hell coming to Earth, etc. And that's not even counting the Christian fantasy fiction. Traveling into Hell is obviously a somewhat smaller subset, but there are still quite a few.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Paranormal romances are never disguised as urban fantasies. They're trying to reach their main audiences. You guys just never pay attention to back cover blurbs properly.
    Emphasis mine. I'd like to exempt myself from the collective, since this is an area where Loerwyn and I have a friendly disagreement. I personally don't draw a distinction between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy; they've got the same ingredients, but one uses more of one ingredient. Some people like lots of garlic on their pizza, some like less; but they're both pizza.

    For every UF I've read that had an extra helping of romance, there was another with a few tablespoons too many of angst, victimhood, and trauma. Yet I don't consider those Angst-Novels-Dressed-Up-As-UF -- just not my preferred recipes. I don't think I'd enjoy a series that had no romance and no pain, I just have my personal preference for how much I can read and still enjoy the book.

    The categories only exist for a couple of reasons: 1) to help a targeted audience find a book that suits their tastes, and 2) so that we have something to argue about on the internet. But there are things one can learn by grouping them and looking at the groups.

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    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    They are both pizza -- fantasy -- on that we agree. But there are folks here -- both men and women (my guys was all gender inclusive) -- who absolutely don't want to read heavy garlic pizza written for a romance audience. The heavy garlic pizza is a particular type of story about two people only -- usually one man and one woman or two women or two men. And they are easily identifiable as heavy garlic if the desire is to avoid them. But people have a tendency to see contemporary pizzas written by women as probably heavy garlic. (I am now getting hungry.)

    For those who have that preference, particularly those feeling confused on the hetero romances, again, if the cover blurb does not mention male characters at all, or only briefly mentions a male character, or mentions more than one male character as major players and/or possible love interests, it is not a paranormal romance novel, even if a female wrote it. If a cover blurb does not match paranormal romance but does emphasize several characters being potential love interests for the main character, then it is a fantasy novel with heavy romance sub-plots, whether it is written by a man or a woman, but it is not a romance novel. Further, if it is a series about one main character who is the main character in each novel of the series, it is not a paranormal romance series. So if you run into the following on a search for books about Hell and you have that preference, now you know.

    If I run into any more titles for the Hell criteria, I'll put them up.

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