Archive for Hull Zero Three

Hull Zero Three

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , on March 5, 2011 by xi'an

“Dreamtime is the reality, obviously, and what I’ve just experienced is a nightmare, but struggle as hard as I can, there’s no way to invert the relationship.” Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three

I very rarely read science-fiction of this kind and I frankly cannot remember why I bought this book by Greg Bear… Maybe the cryptic title? Hull Zero Three sounds intringing enough.. In any case, I found the book a quite interesting read. Of course, most space operas are centred on a spaceship, so this is not a major surprise, but the ambiguity of the nature of the ship is quite appealing (to the reader). The plot itself is somehow secondary as what really matters is to discover where the reality lies. The book is thus much more psychological than action-oriented. Closer to Phillip K. Dick’s Ubik than to Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama

“Somewhere inside me there is knowledge, but it isn’t integrated. It can only be unleashed by a combination of experience, observation, and …. guilt. Trauma.” Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three

At a primary level, the narrator starts from scratch, having to learn everything about Ship trough experience, with induced memories from an Earth left centuries ago. This is not the most successful part of the story as this nth replica of a unique ancestor is endowed with a complete memory and some of the earlier pages are not self-coherent for this reason. However, the griping pace of the gradual uncovering of the problem with Ship, then with Mother, more than makes up for the above. There are enough turns and surprises along most of the book to keep the reader hooked and the final twist about Destination Guidance was surprising enough to justify all the circumlocutions and the frustrating doubts of the narrator. (As a non-native reader, I also found the never-ending technical description a wee too much for my taste, as I was not so interested in the inner details of the Ship. But the overall style is quite tolerable, with gems like “the constant sound of the hull being sandblasted by the ghosts of unborn worlds” and “a lot of us have died—sometimes hundreds of times“…)