Imagine if you will that you are near the end of a wonderful journey. You and your friends are all together and laughing over old times. The mood is of joyful anticipation. After centuries of travel today you are about to set foot on a new planet. Your planet.
Then you wake up.
Now you are freezing and naked and everything is wrong. There's no planet, only the ship. The ship is sick and broken and full of monsters. Things like heat and gravity are fickle and inconstant. Every step fraught with danger and your memories are too scrambled to be of much help at the moment. Your only help is a small girl, and what is she going to do about the monsters?
This is how Greg Bear's "Hull Zero Three," begins. It's safe to say that things get worse for our hero who is for the moment named only "Teacher." When not scrambling for survival the questions that haunt Teacher are daunting. What happened to the ship? How can I fix it? Why don't my memories that I do have match with the reality of the ship? Can I even be sure of my own identity. Greg Bear handles these questions with a quick wit and never lets our character get too Hamlet-y which is a good thing.
This novel moves at a fast clip. It's full of fascinating ideas. I can't think of a bad thing to say about it. Definitely read it.