R28. Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

Year Published: 2010
Pages: 320
First Sentence: Cloud modest, the planet covers herself.

For someone who likes science fiction as much as I do, I've actually read very little of it over the last couple of years thanks to this blog. I realized that a while ago when attempting to make some book recommendations, and decided to take a break from my bookshelf full of inherited CanLit to go to the library, where I picked up Hull Zero Three. I've never read anything by Greg Bear before, but after this I'm quite prepared to give him another shot.

The book begins with the arrival of a ship (or Ship) at a new planet, with a landing party preparing to disembark and settle there. This abruptly turns into a waking nightmare as a man who doesn't know his name or his whereabouts gains consciousness in an icy cold room. Naked, he runs down long hallways as bulkheads close behind him, narrowly avoiding freezing to death. Also narrowly avoiding scary monsters that roam the halls. His guide is a little girl, who leads him "inboard" to the mysterious core of the Ship he appears to be on, until he loses her to a monster. Going on alone, he finds more people, and, very gradually, answers to all of his questions.

This actually isn't a spectacular book, but I still really enjoyed reading it. The best thing about it was its genre and setting (i.e. it satisfied my sf craving). There were also some intriguing bits at the end that I can't talk about much due to spoilers. On the other hand, Ship (the characters don't use any articles when they talk about it, sort of like how we talk about "Earth" or "Canada") is one of the things that make the book less than great. I get the impression that Bear had a very cinematic idea of Ship's interior spaces, but he didn't do a great job of putting desciptions on the page. I was often really confused about what kind of area the characters were traversing, especially as they start moving faster at the end. Speaking of moving faster, the pacing of the book is a little off. There's too much wandering in the beginning, and then the resolution seems rushed. The characters aren't very memorable, either.

Still. Spaceships! Monsters! I don't exactly recommend this book but it was a reasonably enjoyable dip back into the genre.


  1. I have read 2 books by Greg Bear, as he wrote trilogy of the new Halo novels. He came to Halo after Bungie (the original creators) had left. So part of my dislike of him is for his part in breaking one of my most favorite universes. But the other parts are pretty much parallel to your critique's of this novel. I found the pacing of his stories rather slow, until the conclusion which was always too fast. I know I missed stuff. Also, he has a habit of setting up grand settings and ideas, but never fleshing them out. Like you say, very cinematic ideas, but lacking the necessary description to make it come to life. I know lots of people praised his Halo novels, but I could barely make it through them.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      Based on your comments I might not be so quick to try out more of Bear's work.

      Off topic, but Bungie is going to be making a new game soon, right?

  2. My experience with scifi is surprisingly limited - I've read Dune and a couple others. The sci fi universe I'm most familiar with is Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern - have you read any books by her? (Maybe I'll ask you on Twitter, easier to communicate!)

    1. We've talked about this on Twitter already, but yep, I've read some of the Pern books. (I get into it a bit in this post: http://www.twohectobooks.com/2012/06/series-of-posts-about-series-part-1.html)

      Re: Dune, have you read just that one book, or the whole series? Have you read any of the Brian Herbert books?