Hull Zero Three – Greg Bear

[It’s almost two months since I read any fiction, having set aside the time to concentrate on more Hebrew. I anticipate there will be more such sessions in the future, but meanwhile I will post whatever fiction stuff I get to.]

This is the story of a man who wakes up in a starship, naked and freezing, and is forced out into the corridors of the ship to survive; to find out what the hell is going on.

Split into three sections – The Flesh, The Devil, and The World – ┬áit starts like an offshoot of the Alien franchise movies, with a dash of Event Horizon, as our narrator encounters deadly beasts, and struggles just to survive.

Some parts of the ship are cold and getting colder. Some have lower gravity and some have higher gravity. It’s a puzzle, and therefore the story progresses, with the struggle for survival combined with the hunt for answers and redemption. Where is the ship going to, and why? Are his memories dreams, reality, or implanted? Should he be trusting the voices he hears, and the creatures he meets? Any? All? Which? And, ultimately, is there an escape?

The horror aspect is truly horrible; there are some pretty awful things he encounters. I wasn’t a hundred percent convinced by the rationale, but accept it as at least a possibility in that world. The unravelling of the riddle about the ship was, to me, a bit patchy. As the bits and pieces were revealed, there was no sense of wonder or surprise, or satisfaction. (Maybe I missed some detail in the reading.) However, this did not detract as much as I thought it might, perhaps because the survival story keeps racing along and is engrossing.

I hope somebody decent has bought the movie rights, as with good direction this could be a super piece of cinema.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Bear’s observations, and his whole take on the position of the book’s central figure, is both entertaining and thoughtful. It is well written, largely cliche free, contains a good blend of action, puzzle, and conjecture, and is a fine piece of fiction. I was itching to get back to English language fiction, and this book was a nice way to return.

Score: 7/10.