Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think I did Greg Bear a disservice. I kinda avoided his more recent novels ever since Quantico and all the Halo tie-in novels because A: I wasn't all that interested in Quantico and B: I never played the Halo games.
Oh, I know, I know, SHAME ON ME... but then I saw the rating of this book in GR and thought... huh... maybe I ought to pass.
Well, that is a DEFINITE SHAME ON ME.
Why? Because Bear goes all out with the Hard-SF with a grand reprisal of the delightful Biopunk glories I tended to associate with him. Plus this is a total space opera horror with our MC waking without memories and losing skin to the freezing surfaces while a young woman tells him to ignore all the dying men in pods all around him.
Great opening. Sure, it might be like one or two horror SF movies you might have seen, but never mind that. Bear just opens there and turns this into an adventure on a very interesting HUGE spacecraft surrounding an ice moon it is consuming, all the bots and biological horrors seem to be out to clean up or destroy the newly awoken clones, and the rest is all pure mystery.
MYSTERY IN SPACE. :)
Great golly! If I was just reading this without knowing the author at all or knowing what great books he has written in the past, I would still probably rate this the same. It has elements of Indiana Jones with biological monstrosities on a broken Big Dumb Object that feels like that old movie The Cube, where sooooo many copies of the core characters keep getting ushered out like a respawn in a video game, where the whole damn ship is BROKEN and all we want to do is figure out WHY.
And Bear does it. He keeps things hopping and full of great descriptions and hints and images that would translate awesomely to the big screen or a full miniseries. Impalements, jumps, monsters, corpses galore, and nasty robots. :) Too awesome! And it's a straight adventure, too, starting out in the first part of the ship, Hull Zero One, barely surviving the trek across the almost destroyed Hull Zero Two, and praying there is safety and answers on Hull Zero Three.
And all the time, the spaceship revolves and revolves and does it's gorgeous interstellar thing. :)
Don't think that's all, tho. There's great introverted stuff here and his exploration of memory and identity gets full marks here just as it used to in, say, his Queen of Angels. This is chock-full of all the goodies and ambition I've come to admire in all his writing.
Where it doesn't succeed is not of consequence. On the whole, when compared to similar kinds of Space Opera SF, hard or otherwise, Bear's imagination is truly one to behold and love. I'm reminded of just how much stock I always put in his books.
I should never have doubted.
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