Monday, December 17, 2012

Hull Zero Three

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
Science Fiction
320 pages
Published by Orbit

November 2010

Click to purchase Hull Zero Three from!
Spoilers ahead for Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three!

From the back cover:
A starship hurtles through the emptiness of space. Its destination–unknown. Its purpose–a mystery. Now, one man wakes up. Ripped from a dream of a new homea new planet and the woman he was meant to love in his armshe finds himself wet, naked, and freezing to death. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting other survivors he meets might be the greater danger.
All he has are questionsWho is he? Where are they going? What happened to the dream of a new life? What happened to Hull 03? 
All will be answered, if he can survive the ship.

My thoughts:

Here it is: The inaugural post of my new book review blog! My tastes are quite varied: the books that I read span multiple genres and themes. However, to start things off, I've decided to go with a genre readers of my other blog will know I enjoy greatly: science fiction.

Hull Zero Three
 takes a pair of classic sci-fi situations and puts them together in a fairly interesting and compelling book. For the first two thirds of the novel, the protagonist has no memory other than a few words and the knowledge that he is on "Ship." We follow him as he learns more and more about the situation in which he has found himself. The generational ship he is aboard has clearly run into problems, as death traps abound and hideous creatures threaten him at every turn. The mystery of who he is and what has happened is certainly compelling, and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the particulars of the ship and its mission.

Some have complained that the author's descriptions are too long-winded and meticulous, making sure that every sight, sound, and smell is covered in excruciating detail. While I did find that some of the descriptions may have tended toward the "too long" side of things, I generally welcomed them as I enjoy having the universe I am reading about vividly described. Bit by bit, we learn more about the ship and the circumstances of the current crisis. The characters that the protagonist meets along the way are fascinating, and Mr. Bear's descriptions of them engaged my imagination. I especially liked one particular character, who is described as fierce and monstrous-looking, but whose personality is anything but.

To say that Hull Zero Three is groundbreaking would certainly be overstating things. I think the novel comes across more as an intriguing mystery than as a piece of compelling hard sci-fi. For me, the "hard sci-fi" elements come in at the end, when the purpose of Ship is finally explained, and the horror of what its mission is and what has gone wrong is revealed. I won't say much about the revelation here, as I think the mystery is fascinating and well-worth discovering on one's own, but I will say that the concept that Greg Bear came up with for the ship and her mission would certainly have been worth exploring in a book of its own.

Final thoughts:

Hull Zero Three was certainly a fascinating read. I'm a sucker for mysteries and grand reveals, and this novel does a great job with both. My one complaint would be that the explanation and solution are both introduced rather quickly at the end, after which the book wraps up extremely quickly. This is okay, as it is clear that the point of the book is the mystery and working towards the final understanding, rather than showcasing the mission of the ship and the circumstances surrounding the current crisis. I guess I am just disappointed, as I felt that the final reveal was fascinating enough to be a major focus rather than the focus being on just the journey to get there. I am looking forward to reading more of Greg Bear's books. As it stands, I'm not completely enamoured with Hull Zero Three, but I did find it a fairly satisfying read.

About the author:

Greg Bear is the author of over thirty novels in the science fiction and fantasy genres. His awards include two Hugos and five Nebulas, and has been named the "best working writer of hard science fiction" by The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. According to his Facebook page, Mr. Bear has also served on political and scientific action committees. In addition, he has advised Microsoft Corporation, the US Army, the CIA, Sandia National Laboratories, Callison Architecture Inc., the US Department of Homeland Security, and other groups and agencies.

Greg Bear's Website

Also by Greg Bear:

Star Trek #15: Corona (NOTE: Link is to my other blog, specializing in Star Trek fiction)

My next read:

Next up is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Stay tuned!


  1. I thought the same about the wrap-up. It seemed to take me by surprise.
    Another good ship mystery, though in a different direction, is Destination: Void and its sequelas, by Frank Herbert. His non-Dune novels get ignored, though for no good reason.

  2. I actually hadn't noticed this book although I have read other Greg Bear Books.

    I think it will soon be on my bookshelf though as it sounds quite interesting.

  3. Fachero - Thanks for the recommends, I'll keep and eye out.

    Killie - It was pretty interesting, overall. The only Greg Bear books I've read are this and his Trek novel. I'll definitely have to pick up more of his stuff!