A while ago a friend told me the plot of a book (or book series, he isn't sure) that he couldn't remember the name of, and I want to find it.

Here's what he told me:

  • Every person in existence is in hell: Mozart, Hitler, Ghandi, everyone. No one knows why for sure. Hell is a lot like normal modern life, but everything is slightly worse.

  • There is an eye in the sky and everyone thinks it is watching them.

  • Dante is in hell and he's some kind of programmer/IT guy, and he thinks the reason he's here is something offensive in the divine comedy. He keeps trying to rewrite it to fix the problem, but his computer always crashes and erases the file before he can finish.

  • People can't die here; when they do they are taken to some sort of incredibly creepy guy to get stitched back together.

  • The only exception to this is Hemingway, supposedly because he spent his whole life preparing to die, so now he can't even temporarily discorporate.

I have never run into anyone who recognizes this - I'm told Riverworld is sort of similar but not really? It'd be awesome if this rings a bell for someone, thanks.

  • Definitely not Riverworld. Otherwise I've no idea but it sounds fascinating.
    – user8719
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 20:39
  • 2
    sounds like goodreads.com/book/show/6354310-hell
    – zipquincy
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:20
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    @zipquincy Looking at the available summaries online, I'm pretty sure this is it? Thank you! I'll have to double-check at a bookstore, but you might want to make the above an answer so I can accept it.
    – RSid
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


I believe that it is the fantasy series that was created by Janet Morris Heroes In Hell.

I most definitely remember the bit with Dante's computer crashing all the time.

The fighter pilots bit was one of my favorites.

  • Well now I just don't know what to believe anymore - I can't believe there was more than one plausible candidate for this :p But I think remembering the Dante thing clinches it.
    – RSid
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 19:53
  • Well there is Larry Niven's retelling of Dante's Inferno, called "Inferno" that would be another. So that's three.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 0:40
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    The Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle version of Inferno was excellent, but clearly not a match for this question. Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 15:13
  • Also an answer to this old question, but not accepted. scifi.stackexchange.com/a/92540/28516 Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 0:53

I believe it is Hell, by Robert Olen Butler.

Hatcher McCord is an evening news presenter who has found himself in Hell and is struggling to explain his bad fortune. He’s not the only one to suffer this fate—in fact, he’s surrounded by an outrageous cast of characters, including Humphrey Bogart, William Shakespeare, and almost all of the popes and most of the U.S. presidents. The question may be not who is in Hell but who isn’t

  • Thanks! Probably still going to read this, but I'm pretty sure Donald found the series I was looking for.
    – RSid
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 19:54

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