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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There was some question as to whether I was going to actually write this review. As I’ve stated before, nonfiction books are much harder to review, especially if you’re not intimately familiar with the subject matter. It becomes even more difficult when the author is local. If I write a great review, am I trying to curry favor? If I’m negative, am I going to face an onslaught of the author’s friends and family upset because I wasn’t positive for the sake of being local? I couldn’t care less either way, actually. If I don’t review it truthfully then I’m being dishonest with both the author and myself.

The author of "Venus: Don’t Go There" is Lockport High School Class of 1973 graduate, Michael T. Santini. In his first career, Santini worked as an aerospace engineer. He has a great deal of knowledge when it comes to the scientific principles of the solar system as well as space travel. After finding Jesus later in life through a girlfriend, Santini entered the San Francisco Theological Seminary where he earned a Doctorate of Ministry.

The premise of this work is that the planet Venus is the physical location of Hell, and that all unworthy souls will spend eternity suffering on the planet’s inhospitable surface. Just let that sink in for a moment before you continue reading. Venus is the physical location of Hell.

Before we jump into that, I want to tell you what I did like about this book. Surprisingly, there were some very well written parts. When Santini explains the science behind planetary motion and the life of the universe, he is all business. These portions are detailed and easy to understand. It is evident from his writing that, not only does he know the subject material well, but he also has quite a passion for it.

I also found the “fire and brimstone” narrative to be quite interesting. This is a term for a style of preaching that uses “vivid descriptions of judgment and eternal damnation to encourage repentance.” I must admit that I am not overtly religious. I don’t go to church and feel my faith is a private matter. However, this style of preaching intrigues me. Historically, preaching has almost always been in this vein.  Santini tells the reader either take Jesus into your heart or be banished to Venus to suffer for your indiscretions.

And now for the bad.

I understand that at the very base of this book, Michael Santini is simply preaching the salvation of your soul through the love of Jesus, but the endless, repetitive Biblical quotes were a huge distraction. Some quotes are needed, but Santini overplays his hands. I know the author needs to set the stage for his grand unveiling, however,  it almost seems like he is trying to reassure the reader that he is a Biblical scholar.

Part of Santini’s focus is to assure the reader that science and religion can coexist. I can appreciate that. Just because you believe in science doesn’t mean you can’t have faith. However, in this book after setting the stage how the two can work together, he expects the reader to suspend disbelief that Venus will be able to contain those condemned souls.

Let’s work with a little truth about Venus. The planet has the densest atmosphere in the solar system with 96% carbon dioxide. Likewise, it is the hottest planet in the system, even hotter than Mercury, with an average daily temperature of 863 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times greater than at sea level on Earth. Like Santini states, it is a virtual Hell. It is also no place where humans could last for more than a few seconds.

Now before you throw the idea out there that it would be just the souls of the condemned “guided into interplanetary space, and brought to a soft landing on the inner planet,” I use Santini’s own writing as an example. On page 170, a section titled “Six Men in a Lava Tube” depicts a group of men who have been condemned to Hell (Venus) for various transgressions in their lives. They are portrayed as very anthropomorphic and very physical beings. After spending a portion of the book reassuring the reader that science and religion can work in harmony, Santini suddenly abandons the idea.

This aspect of the book is simply not believable after the setup we’re given. In addition, he makes suppositions that the possibilities of lava tubes under the surface of the planet would make perfect condos for these souls. At this point it seems we’re starting to grasp at straws.

Speaking of “Six Men in a Lava Tube,” this section is Santini’s foray into fiction. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the book. Not only is it filled with the same, old, tired cliches that grace the pages of every doom and gloom book about ignoring the grace of Christ, it is also very poorly written. Obviously, fiction is not Santini’s forte. After the beautiful scientific writing in earlier pages, this section just fell flat with tone and skill.

I have to admit that I was not overly impressed with Venus: Don’t Go There. Admittedly, it is not my normal subject matter when it comes to reading. I was impressed with Michael Santini’s writing skill when it came to science. He was able to inform the reader with succinctness. I was also impressed with his passion for the subject. He has incredible faith in his beliefs, afterlife, and his hypothesis. He stands by his convictions with no apologies. You have to admire the man for that.

In the end, I just could not buy into Santini’s theory. After spending a good deal of time on the possible harmony between science and religion, he threw it aside when it came to getting to the proof of his book.

This is a book that should be read by those people who are interested in this subject. Don’t just take my word for it. It’s only my opinion and shouldn’t be taken as gospel (no pun intended). Everyone needs a little faith. A person’s faith should be based on their own opinion. Take a chance on Venus: Don’t Go There by Michael Santini, and for even more information about the author and his views, visit his website at

+Craig Bacon is not sure where Hell is, though he’s hoping it isn’t anywhere near Uranus. You can follow his irreverent ramblings on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

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