You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hull Zero Three

Hull Zero Three is a hard science fiction novel by Greg Bear. The story brings to life a classic science fiction concept: a large ship with slow acceleration moving toward a distant star. The ship in this case is composed of three hulls connected to a huge comet that provides fuel. The ship contains biological systems advanced enough to generate a vast assortment of creatures from its genetic Catalog, from astrogators to ship's engineers to biologists to cleaners to trackers. The humanoids and other creatures are implanted with memories for their jobs.

The story is from the first person point of view of a human who finds himself waking up in a birthing chamber and forced to run to chase heat and escape the cleaners that intend to take him to the recycling chamber. He is led by a young girl who has memories of the Ship and the Mother implanted in her. The man, who comes to be known as the Teacher, finds that Ship is not hospitable for his kind, though there are other creations who can move about easily and survive the harsh environments. Gradually the Teacher and the girl meet others who are trying to make sense of the Ship. They use their combined memories to try to figure out why the ships systems are not working properly and the cleaners are trying to kill them.

The mystery slowly comes together as they discuss their memories and observe the workings of the ship and the space outside. They find that their hull is damaged and another is nearly destroyed, apparently from the blast of a recent supernova. There is some sort of struggle between the ship's systems, the woman known as Mother, and the people who are a part of Destination Guidance. Destination Guidance was supposed to select an appropriate target and fade away to die, but something has gone wrong with their decision.

The descriptions of the ship and its systems are a central part of the story. It is a massive achievement of human design. The ship feels like it has its own life, its own desires. The goals of the hidden players in the story are carried out by the humans and other creatures that they have created on the ship. The Teacher and his friends have to come to grips with the fact that their memories are false and incomplete. They must figure out how to trust each other and themselves. The story is the mystery of the ship's systems, the people who control them, and the decision that led to the whole situation. B+

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