Firefly and the Special Level of Hell

In the 2002-2003 science fiction television series Firefly, one of the main characters is threatened with a “special level of Hell” in the clip below.

You can watch Firefly on Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, and on Vudu.

Contributed by Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

Westworld S01E05: “Contrapasso” (2016)

Episode 5 of the first season of the HBO original series Westworld is called “Contrapasso.”

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To read about key moments from the episode, see this October 30, 2016, blogpost on The Hollywood Reporter (beware of spoilers!).

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818, 1831)

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“Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.” — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Chapter 5)

Contributed by Kate Geraghty (Bowdoin, ’07) and Megan Alvarado (University of Texas at Austin, ’18)

John Sayles, Brother from Another Planet (1984)

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The main character, an escaped slave from another planet, meets a character who calls himself “Virgil,” a rastafarian who speaks in verse and helps guide The Brother through a dark moment.

Walter M. Miller, Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz (1956)

canticle-for-leibowitz“And again: Vexilla regis inferni prodeunt… Forth come the banners of the King of Hell, whispered memory of that perverted line from an ancient commedia. It nagged like an unwanted tune in his thought.”  (Part Two, Fiat Lux, p. 143 in the Bantam edition of 1988).

Clifford “Dante” Simak

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A mistaken middle name for “D.” (it is actually Donald).  The translation is from 1970.  The original novel is entitled The Goblin Reservation (1968).

Contributed by Gianni Montanari

Dan Brown, Inferno (2013)

dan-brown-inferno-2013Inferno, Dan Brown’s new book about Dante, is coming out on May 14, 2013 from Doubleday in the U.S., and Transworld Publishers in the UK (a division of Random House). Brown announced that he was writing something new in May 2012. Though Brown had been cryptic about the topic of the book, he has now revealed more information. The book will again feature The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol‘s lead character Robert Langdon. Brown also noted on The Today Show that it ‘will be set in Europe, in the most fascinating place I’ve ever seen’ (we’re guessing Florence, Italy since that’s where Dante wrote, and Florence’s Duomo church features on the cover of the book). Transworld’s press release for the book relates a bit more: the book will revolve around one of ‘history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces’ (we’re assuming Dante’s Divine Comedy, with a focus on the Inferno portion, due to the title of the book).

“The title was announced this morning on The Today Show. Readers were invited to participate in the unveiling of the title by posting on Facebook or tweeting, using the hashtag #DanBrownToday that they were helping unveil the title of Dan Brown’s newest book. These readers’ profile pictures then claimed a tile in a mosaic. After enough readers contributed their title suggestions, the new title was revealed. Even if you’ve never read a Dan Brown book, you can guess that the man really enjoys his puzzles.”    –Zoe Triska, The Huffington Post, January 15, 2013

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See also: Janet Maslin, “On a Scavenger Hunt to Save Most Humans,” The New York Times, May 12, 2013

Dante’s Fire-Con

dantes-fire-con“With “Geek!” the playwright Crystal Skillman and the troupe Vampire Cowboys fly high the freak flag of fantasy. An ode to fangirls and fanboys, the show, in Cowboys tradition, celebrates the universe of anime, comics, science fiction, manga and Hollywood effects spectaculars. It’s a milieu Ms. Skillman clearly knows well and depicts with affection. At an Ohio anime convention called Dante’s Fire-Con two fans take on the guises of their fictional heroines…” [. . .]    –Andy Webster, New York Times, March 29, 2013

See also: Incubator Arts Project, New York

Harlan Ellison, “I Have No Mouth…” Video Game Version

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“In the 1995 computer adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream, Dante’s Divine Comedy is the book that contains a hidden mirror in the Lord’s Bedroom in Ted’s Scenario.”    —Wikipedia

Philip K. Dick, The Owl in Daylight (1982)

pk-dicks-the-owl-in-daylight-1982“Philip K. Dick’s last wife has reworked the novel he was working on when he died in 1982 and is publishing the book herself, The Guardian reported. Tessa Dick, the fifth wife of the science-fiction legend, told Self-Publishing Review, an online magazine (selfpublishingreview.com), that her version of The Owl in Daylight seeks to express ‘the spirit’ of the proposed book, about which little is known. Ms. Dick said that a letter from her husband to his editor and agent revealed plans to ‘have a great scientist design and build a computer system and then get trapped in its virtual reality,’ and added: ‘The computer would be so advanced that it developed human-like intelligence and rebelled against its frivolous purpose of managing a theme park.’ The letter also mentioned Dante’s Inferno and the Faust legend, she said.”    –Ben Sisario, The New York Times, February 16, 2009

See also: “The Owl in Daylight” Wikipedia page.