Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

Why I Read It: Wanted a short scifi novel.

Where I Got It: The library

Who I Recommend This To: If you are into far-future, seeding the universe, horrible accident along the way stories, check this book out.

Narrator: Dan John Miller

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (2010)

Length: ~9 hours

This Greg Bear tale is told through the sometimes exhaustion-bleared, and sometimes shocked wide-open, eyes of one dude who is woken up to a very nasty shock. Earth was in desperate straights and put together a very fancy, very large ship to send humanity out to a very, very distant star system. The ship had everything that could possibly be needed for such a long voyage, with every horrible scenario thought about and planned for. So they thought.  So how did our main hero wake to such desperate straights? Firth thing, he must run, from the space-deep cold to the ship-made warmth. It only gets harder from there.

Most of our characters don’t have names until near the end of the book. Our hero is naked, hungry, cold-scalded on feet and hands, and very befuddled about what all is going on. The half-answers and odd statements from the little girl that pulled him from his space-sleep sack don’t help. Pretty soon he must start piecing together what might have happened to the ship, and sort through his memories: which are real and which are not? To interrupt his reverie, there are a variety of factors – ship-made creatures that have specific tasks, such as cleaning, repairing, killing, etc. Our hero and his hodge-podge companions he picks up along the way are alternately killed, injured, or hiding from these factors. Can they unravel the mystery of the ship? I had my doubts up to the very end.

This was an odd book. On one hand, keeping the reader as ignorant as the main character really made me feel the dude’s vexation at the whole situation. However, I am not sure I enjoyed being vexed and in the dark for roughly 7 of the 9 hours of the book. Still, I finished it because I wanted answers and the last 2 hours of the book were pretty good because things were coming together and there was this sense of danger and clarity and hope all at the same time.

Dan John Miller was a good choice for this book. He had a steady voice for the main dude and his little girl voices were well done too. There were two characters later in the book with deep voices; I especially liked Miller’s portrayal of these two characters, with his growly voice for one. Sometimes his job was tough as some of the characters had twins; Miller tackled this well by adding lassitude or anxiety to one twin but not the other, which made it easy to keep track of who was talking.

What I Liked: Really understood the main character, feeling his sense of confusion and frustration; an entire world resides on this ship with a giant mystery; I liked the author’s use of gene manipulation.

What I Disliked: Most of the characters didn’t have a name until near the end of the book; as the reader, I was a little too in the dark for most of the book.

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