The Infernova

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Press: Blackburnian Press (August 11, 2009)
Publication Date:2009-8
Author Name:Alenthony, S. a.


Dante Alighieri's magnificent Inferno has ruled for centuries as literature's most imaginative depiction of the fates of the damned. 
As a masterwork of allegorical fantasy, it stands unequaled.
As a survey of the true causes of human misery, it fails utterly, built as it was upon a medieval religious worldview divorced from reality.
Alenthony's The Infernova is the new book that rectifies this error by turning the classic vision of the Christian hell upside-down.
Retelling the poem from an atheist's perspective, the story parallels Dante's descent through nine infamous circles where increasingly pernicious sinners endure their symbolic punishments.
The upper circles house the minor offenders: those who lacked clarity or promoted fallacious arguments.
The middle levels incarcerate those who preyed upon-and profited from-irrationality: paranormalists, conspiracy theorists, astrologers, and their ilk.
Lower and yet darker realms are reserved for religion's criminals, such as televangelist-frauds, pedophile-priests, and terrorists, while at the pit's nadir reside the legions of the world's prophets and a virtual menagerie of the countless gods born of their imaginations.
Dante was famously accompanied on his journey by his revered hero, the Roman poet Virgil.
In The Infernova, it is the satirical and irreligious gadfly Mark Twain who takes the role of guide and companion.
As their odyssey continues, the dangers of irrational and mystical thinking grow more clear, and their dialogues and encounters with hell's residents provide a unique tableau on which to set out the arguments against supernaturalism.
Mythological traditions have long used narratives and parables as vehicles to get their messages across.
While secular writers have produced a steady stream of quality non-fiction recently, works of fiction and poetry are more rare.
The Infernova addresses the paucity of atheist imaginative writing, and will be of interest to all manner of freethinkers, humanists, and skeptical persons looking for a different kind of deconstruction of the world's superstitions.


What an impressive book! The verse is wonderful.


It's an ingenious idea... 
and well done.


It was a fantastic read. 
Very enjoyable and thought-provoking.
I plan to recommend to educational activities like Camp Quest and AEU Society programs.

Book Description

I enjoyed and appreciated every page... 
ingeniously conceived and masterfully executed and I can readily commend it to other secular readers.

From the Back Cover

A young man's struggle to find his path in a world of human illusion and error is the theme of The Infernova. 
A novel in verse, this secular parody of Dante's classic takes the reader through a new Hell - an abyss devised not to punish those damned by Christian doctrine, but rather those greater agents of human misery: the irrational, the mystical, and the dogmatic religious.
And just as Dante was guided on his trek by a celebrated writer, so too here - but it is the irreverent Mark Twain taking the role of Virgil.
As their journey proceeds, the perils of unreason and faith-based thinking become ever more clear and dramatic.

About the Author

Alenthony is uniquely qualified to satirize religion and irrationality, as he had the misfortune of being born to parents that were Jehovah's Witnesses.
He literally almost died as an infant due to their well-known refusal to allow blood transfusions.
Despite the fact that he was slated to be a Christian by accident of birth, he became a doubter instead by choice.
He earned a Ph.D.
in physics a decade after dropping out of high school.
He and his wife Claire are raising their two freethinking kids in the relatively moderate state of Minnesota.


Religion & Spirituality,Atheism,Literature & Fiction,Poetry,Themes & Styles,Inspirational & Religious,Politics & Social Sciences,Philosophy,Religious

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Comment List (Total:10)

  •     I have to admit that I was skeptical -- a book in actual verse is a hard thing to pull off. Alenthony made it work, and I read it cover to cover and enjoyed it, In fact, it was...
  •     This is a fantastic bit of satirical epic poetry by a very gifted writer. The book is written in rhyming verse, which may scare some readers, but having personally read very little epic poetry prior to this, I did not find it difficult in the slightest. It is a satire of Dante's Inferno, written within an atheist worldview - instead of homosexuals and adulterers in this symbolic hell, it is populated with scam artists, televangelists, and those who use religion to exploit the intellect of others. Alenthony makes it clear that the story is a symbolic dream from a computerized future - he does not create a true "hell" of eternal suffering for real people, for such a concept is barbaric and outrageous.First, the writing: I thought the literary quality of the writing was brilliant. The verse and rhyme scheme was authentic and clean. With the possible exception of literally only 1 or 2 spots out of thousands, I never felt like the rhyming was forced or contrived - it flowed seemlessly like a Homerian epic.Second, the story: Again, I genuinely thought the story was brilliant parody and satire. Alenthony constructs a clever structure for his 9-level hell, starting first with those guilty of crimes of the intellect, and slowly descending (no pun intended) from there.The punishments devised for each type of crime were clever and sharp, perfectly matching the crimes in symbolism. For instance, the shades of those who propound conspiracy theories are forced to endure becoming pulp in a paper mill, their bodies becoming the tabloids they used to publish and circulate.Third, the ideology: While I do not agree with all of Alenthony's personal worldviews, I found the ideology of the book to be well in line with modern secularism/agnosticism/atheism. For those sorts of readers, this book comes highly recommended. Some of the attacks on theology are oversimplified, and some of the theological characters in the book are, at best, parodies of the original, but the book is epic poetry, not biography. It's purpose is to entertain while educating.The book is not a polemic against religion. Rather, it is an apologetic for rationalism, science, and intellectual honesty.In the end, I really thought it was a fantastic book. Not every reader will agree with all the ideologies, but within the frame of reference of an atheist worldview, I thought it was excellent. The writing was truly and legitimately brilliant from a literary standpoint, the structure and development was clever, and the symbolism and "message" was clear and poignant.
  •     "The Infernova" by S. A. Alenthony ISBN 978-0-9819678-9-9Review by Chris PhillipsThe subtitle, "An Infidel Reinvents Dante's Hell", is an accurate...
  •     Even if you're not familiar with Dante's "Inferno", I think you'll be able to enjoy the delightful cynicism that Alenthony so masterfully weaves into this work.
  •     A lot of people will be SCANDALIZED at the idea of a Muslimah who reads the book of an atheist. I don't care. I was raised by people who taught me to THINK FOR MYSELF above all things, and I understand the "stance" of atheism and would give my life to protect their ability to be free from religion.That said, this is simply a damn fine book! The poetry is absolutely divine (oops, sorry!) and in combination with the humor, is a treat that I'm reading for the 2nd time and recommending to anyone who'll listen.If one is already familiar with Dante Alighieri, there's even more to like about this book; but it isn't necessary. However, if you've gotten this far in the review, I'd say read Dante, then read Alenthony. Or vice versa.Read S. A. Alenthony!(No. I'm not a paid spokesperson. I promise. :-D )ABluePearl
  •     Where do the nonreligious go when they die? "The Infernova" is a take on the classic Dante's Inferno with a more secularized spin, in which Mark Twain guides the narrator through...
  •     The Infernova is really unlike any other book on religion that I have ever read. It goes through the various arguments for rejecting religion and mystical thinking by means of a...
  •     Have you ever wanted to read an Atheist's masturbation session in literary format? If so, buy this. If not, steer clear.
  •     I'm a big fan of Dante's "Inferno" (I especially like the Dorothy Sayers translation) and so I approached this work with a little trepidation. What Alenthony has done is quite extraordinary, and I can heartily recommend this book. It is witty and clever--but not that sort of distracting "too clever by half" sort of witty that throws itself up in your face every so often. The selection of Mark Twain as the traveling companion is inspired, the description of hell as a simulation intended to teach is inspired, the fate of of purveyors of BS is poetic and funny...I can't say enough good about this book. I can provide a niggling, trivial criticism about how a section in the center third flags just a bit, getting bogged down as it does in perhaps overuse of manure as a metaphor for nonsense. But there is so much to appreciate in this accessible, fun volume that any criticism seems like a mere quibble in the face of the overall accomplishment. And I was pleased to see C.S. Lewis dealt with, but not too harshly, for I, like Alenthony, suspect Lewis to have been a decent and sincere man who let his emotions override his reason and carry him away from otherwise crystalline thought. One warning--something I noticed from going from "Infernova" to a regular prose book as I read over the weekend: After about an hour or so reading Alenthony's wicked and apt verse, the prose work seemed especially...well, prosaic. Final thought: If you just can't be bothered to read an epic poem, at least spend a little time with Alenthony's introduction, which is poignant, strong, telling, and accessible.
  •     I am a practicing Catholic and Dante fan who thoroughly enjoyed this book. The substitution of Mark Twain for Virgil is a nice touch, and the imitation of the terza rima in English verse is a real achievement. I would point out, however, that in some respects Mr Alenthony's point of view is not that different from that of Dante, both are strict moralists, and like Alenthony Dante places many religious leaders, pope, bishops and other clergy in hell. But Dante didn't simply create an Inferno. He also created a Purgatorio and a Paradiso, which may even be greater works than the Inferno. However, I wonder if Mr Alenthony's creation of an Inferno is something of a cop out. After all there can be no hell for atheists to believe in. The fate of Hitler and Ann Frank are exactly the same, an unpleasant death. There is no place for retribution, and I wonder if there can be any definitive definition of evil. It may just be that Stalin and I have different opinions and his murder of millions is simply a logical consequence of his belief system. It is possible that, for instance, Radical Islam will triumph over the West on the basis of sheer demographics, and then who is to say that their belief is evil? Dostoevsky may be right when one of his characters in The Brothers Karamazov states that if there is no God all is permitted. Anyway, to get back to Mr Alenthony's poem. I recommend it to any admirer of Dante. I think that the satire is well thought out but respectful. He has obviously studied the Master and he has put his study to excellent use.

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