A book which tries hard and ultimately fails to live up to its potential. The
opening tries to put a human being into the ultimate horrific situation (wakes
up in a strange, freezing place, starving hungry, tired, wet, in pain, skin
being pulled off by frozen surfaces, being chased by monsters, intermittent
gravity, etc, etc) but despite turning the dial to eleven the horror is not
really conveyed through the prose.
There is a deep idea that a ship is carrying a gene pool to deliver to a distant
planet in order that a new, conquering civilization can be built up there, and
that when things go wrong en-route the ship is able to manipulate and mobilize
this gene pool to create an ecosystem of beings with specialisms to deal with
the situation; but as in all genetic population experiments it goes
Frankenstein-wrong and turns into the horrible mess the book’s protagonist is
`born’ into. The idea is good and gets the book all of its three stars, but the
execution of the novel around that idea lacks vigour and story-telling interest.
The middle section of the book is about making acquaintances and discovering the
environment, but there is little surprise other than it is a big ship with three
hulls (given away by the title) full of monsters, mostly burned-out but with
pockets of habitable rooms. The writing provides little detail or texture, and
springs few surprises other than the anticipatable sudden appearance of
monsters. Of course, it provides some friendly, intelligent monsters too, to
provide our hero with some company.
There is an interesting short chapter in the middle of the end section which
breaks the monotonous chronological procession of scenes, where the book really
ends and the conclusion is drawn at a point in time in the future.
There is a Mother figure, almost absurd: the head of the woman the hero believes
he has been dreaming about prior to arrival at the ultimate destination married
to a long body covered in breasts. It turns out this thing has the wrong
intentions and is creating beings with the design to take control of the ship,
producing the monsters in the process; nothing very imaginative.
The final part is weakly concluded overall. We are left only with a vague
notion of a ship which was despatched centuries ago to supply seedling humanity
to a distant part of the universe, got caught up in an unexpected supernova
along the way, instantiated some emergency procedures which led to a localised
on-board war which fizzled away and left the ship able to limp to its intended
conclusion. But one had this vague impression not long into the book anyway.
The essential conclusion to the book is that the ship, including its life
support systems, must be closed down, causing all the living things to freeze to
death. The gene pool will remain intact and when the ship does arrive at the
final destination the new civilization can be realized as per plan; the ship’s
self-defence/healing mechanism does ultimately work but the process required
bringing this unfortunate human into existence in this unfortunate horrific