Greg Bear’s newest, Hull Zero Three, is eerily reminiscent of these 1970’s SF standards – 439 light-years from Earth’s sun, on a massive colony ship carrying “humankind’s last hope” to a new world, a nameless man wakes up naked and freezing to death in a stark metal room. With images of his future paradise still fresh in his Dreamtime mind – “Our chosen is perfect – more than we could have hoped for. Rolling beneath, she slips aside her creamy white veil to reveal the sensuous richness of blue water, brown and tan prairies, yellow desert, a wrinkled youth of gray mountains hemmed by forest so green it is almost black – and the brilliant emerald sward of spring pastures…” – the nightmare of his sudden reality is startling.
On the run from a laundry list of bladder-loosening monstrosities and constantly in search of warmth, food and water, the group slowly begins to understand the reality of their existence amidst the surreal chaos – their memories are all implanted, everything that they thought was true, isn’t.
“…we’re not born – we’re made to order.”
As the group get closer to the ship’s control center, the intensity – and desperation – of the attacks increase: and what they finally find at quest’s end will chill them all to the bone…
“If you want to ask how evil begins, just look to basic human nature. What’s good gets bent, and bad is the inevitable result.”
Old silverback science fiction fans like myself who grew up with works from Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, etc. will love the tone and thematic depth of Bear’s latest. Younger science fiction readers will additionally be intrigued by the bleak setting and plethora of hellish monsters, which in many ways is comparable to video games like Doom and its sequels.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.