Fiction Reviews

Hull Zero Three

(2010/2011) Greg Bear, Gollancz, £14.99, trdpbk, 307pp, ISBN 978-0-575-10095-4


This is the first British printing (2011) of Greg Bear's novel originally published in N. America in 2010, and it is a space-opera-ish, hard SF story.

A man wakes up onboard a giant spaceship travelling between the stars. He does not know who he is, where he is, and what is going on: a truly perplexing and worrying cocktail. He meets others, but they seem to know about as much as him with the only additional benefit of having some knowledge of the part of the ship they are in. If this were all not bad enough, there are others roaming whose intent is not clear and sometimes hostile, and then there are the monsters.

It transpires that their sub-light, interstellar craft is divided into three hulls. They are in hull zero one, but the answers they seek, if not there could be elsewhere. They must explore and face the perils of their deep space abode…

Greg Bear has given us a remarkable adventure, a puzzling world to unravel and thriller to keep you on your toes. Alas for the reviewer, it is one of those books about which you cannot say too much lest it spoils the enjoyment of the potential reader. Part of the fun is actually discovering the set-up for yourself. All I can really do for you is to give you some from of brief taxonomic analysis based on the author's oeuvre. Suffice to say that Hull Zero Three is more sure-footed than City at the End of Time which though nominally hard SF read as much like a fantasy, it is also on more solid ground than the wide-screen space opera of Anvil of the Stars, or the big dumb object of Eon. What we have with Hull Zero Three is near-mundane SF in the form of the interstellar space craft and hard SF biology of its occupants whose survival is threatened which in turn drives them (and the reader) into needing to find out what (not) on Earth is going on. In short something for every die-hard, SF reader. Enjoy.

Jonathan Cowie

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