Central Station

Lavie Tidhar

2017 John W. Campbell Award Winner
2018 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award Winner
2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award, Shortlist
2016 British Science Fiction Award, Longlist
2017 Geffen Award nominee, Best Translated Science Fiction Book

2019 Premio Italia, Best International Novel, Finalist
2019 Kurd Laßwitz Preis Shortlist

NPR Best Books of 2016
Amazon Featured Monthly Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
Barnes and Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016
2016 Locus Recommended Reading List Winner 
2016 British Science Fiction Award Best Cover Illustration – Sarah Anne Langton
Chesley Award, Best Cover Illustration – Sarah Anne Langton
2017 British Fantasy Society – Shortlist for Best Artist – Sarah Anne Langton

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.  But at Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive, and even evolve.


Central Station

by Lavie Tidhar

ISBN: 9781616962142

Published: May 2016

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Ebooks


“Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk.”
NPR Books

A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper.

When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.

Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change.

At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive . . . and even evolve.

Cover art and design by Sarah Anne Langton
Interior design and map by Elizabeth Story

Praise for Central Station

An NPR Books Best Book of 2016
A Tor.com Best Book of 2016

An io9 SF, Fantasy, and Horror Book That Will Blow Your Mind
An Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book
A Publishers Weekly Staff Pick
A Bookskill Recommended Book

An SF Bluestocking Best of 2016
A Kirkus 2016 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy pick
A Tor.com Five Mosaic Novels You Should Read
Barnes and Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016
A UK Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book of 2016
Best Science Fiction Books Top 10 of 2016
Featured review on the Reading Envy podcast
Featured Interview in the Jewish Telegraph [STAR]

“World Fantasy Award–winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport. In a future border town formed between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa, cyborg ex-soldiers deliver illicit drugs for psychic vampires, and robot priests give sermons and conduct circumcisions. The Chong family struggles to save patriarch Vlad, lost in the inescapable memory stream they all share, thanks to his father’s hack of the Conversation, the collective unconscious. New children, born from back-alley genetic engineering, begin to experience actual and virtual reality simultaneously. Family and faith bring them all back and sustain them. Tidhar gleefully mixes classic SF concepts with prose styles and concepts that recall the best of world literature. The byways of Central Station ring with dusty life, like the bruising, bustling Cairo streets depicted by Naguib Mahfouz. Characters wrestle with problems of identity forged under systems of oppression, much as displaced Easterners and Westerners do in the novels of Orhan Pamuk. And yet this is unmistakably SF. Readers of all persuasions will be entranced.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

[STAR] “. . . a fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells.”
Library Journal, starred review

“It is just this side of a masterpiece — short, restrained, lush — and the truest joy of it is in the way Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk.”
NPR Books

“A marvellous, multi-faceted story that flows gently from one character to another like an intimate private tour of Tel Aviv and the spaceport at its centre.”
SF Crowsnest

“A fantastic mosaic novel.”
New York Review of Science Fiction

“Tidhar, who the Guardian newspaper compared to Philip K. Dick, has given the world a fascinating and imaginative snapshot of a distant future.”
—Charlie Shifflett, author of Accomplices

“Tidhar presents a richly constructed future in this beautifully crafted world.”
—David Brin, author of Startide Rising and Existence

“Breathtakingly heady . . . a wonderfully inventive set of interconnected tales, brimming with sensory detail and paying tribute to a plethora of science-fiction tropes.”
Intergalactic Medicine Show

Central Station is in every way a literary masterpiece.”
The Future Fire

“Thought-provoking . . . highly intellectual.”

“Tidhar explores life, both virtual and real in this astonishing book . . . Central Station is vital and vigorous, challenging and mind-expanding.”

“Beautiful, original, a shimmering tapestry of connections and images – I can’t think of another SF novel quite like it. Lavie Tidhar is one of the most distinctive voices to enter the field in many years.”
—Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series

“If you want to know what SF is going to look like in the next decade, this is it.”
—Gardner Dozois, editor of the best-selling Year’s Best Science Fiction series

“A dazzling tale of complicated politics and even more complicated souls. Beautiful.”
—Ken Liu, Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy winner and author of The Grace of Kings

“If Nalo Hopkinson and William Gibson held a séance to channel the spirit of Ray Bradbury, they might be inspired to produce a work as grimy, as gorgeous, and as downright sensual as Central Station.”
—Peter Watts, author of Blindsight

Central Station is masterful: simultaneously spare and sweeping—a perfect combination of emotional sophistication and speculative vision. Tidhar always stuns me.”
—Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Central Station boasts complexity without complication, sharp prose, and a multi-dimensional world.”
—Jeffrey Ford, author of The Girl in the Glass

“Lavie Tidhar weaves the threads of classic and modern science fiction tropes with the skills of a gene surgeon and creates a whole new landscape to portray a future both familiar and unsettling. A unique marriage of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, C. L. Moore, China Miéville, and Larry Niven with 50 degrees of compassion and the bizarre added. An irresistible cocktail.”
—Maxim Jakubowski, author of the Sunday Times bestselling Vina Jackson novels

“Like all good science fiction, the linked stories of Central Station are really about the here and now we live in.  Most urgently, they are about just who ‘we’ might be, here on this overcrowded, contested, Anthropocene world that we all must share.  Lavie Tidhar writes in generous detail and expansive vision of a New, and old Jerusalem, and of the many possible ‘we’s who live there.”
—Carter Scholz, author of Radiance

“A mosaic of mind-blowing ideas and a dazzling look at a richly-imagined, textured future.”
—Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings

“Disturbingly strange, yet bizarrely familiar, like implanted memories from a future you have not yet lived. I loved it.”
—Eileen Gunn, author of Stable Strategies and Others

“Tidhar weaves strands of faith and science fiction into a breathtaking and lush family history of the far future.”
—Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead

“I recommend it highly. It’ll stay with you for days, because every idea in it has more ideas under it. It’s all of science fiction distilled into a single book.”
—Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine

“It’s an amazing book!”
—Jewelle Gomez author of The Gilda Stories

Central Station is brilliant.”
Barnes & Noble

“I smelled the smells of Tel Aviv in the first paragraph of the introduction, meat cooking and sweat and sand and Mediterranean air. I saw the city squares, flowing with life and laughter and languages. I felt like I had come home.”
The Warbler

“[A] standout, absorbing, well realised sci-fi world, with characters who feel like they’re about to stroll off the page and take you for a cup of arak.”
Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

“If you’re looking for something a little more philosophical and thoughtful than the usual fare in the genre, look no further than this book . . . a fantastic read.”
Strange Currencies

“Lavie Tidhar gives enormous depth to the world he creates. . . . Central Station is a fascinating glimpse into a very possible future.”

Central Station is a gorgeous book”

Central Station is one of the most breathtakingly, bewilderingly, mindbendingly imaginative stories I’ve read in some time.”

“I think I’ve just read one of the books of the year, although we are only in April.”
Dreams of Elvex

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one on the Nebula shortlist next year.”
—Rob Weber, Val’s Random Comments

“[Tidhar] has created a textured and original future that echoes real historical and economic tensions while satisfying veteran readers with deliberate echoes of classic science fiction…Deeply humane.”
Chicago Tribune

“The lushness, the alien-ness, but organic feel of the setting of Tel Aviv, with the gamespace and the Conversation flickering in and around, reminded me of Hyperion by Dan Simmons.”

“Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys literary science fiction, especially authors like Hannu Rajaniemi”

“This is science fiction told on an intimate scale.”
Strange Alliances

“What makes this book special is the strong literary quality to the writing. . . .Central Station is not like anything else you’ve read. This book shows clearly that Lavie Tidhar is an author to watch.”
SF Revu

Central Station is a wondrous thought-provoking book, as you would expect from someone as highly credentialed as Lavie Tidhar.”
Fantasy Book Review

“[T]he escape from more traditional (and commercial) story structure allows the Central Station to be a place where the extraordinary and alien are commonplace, its world imbued with life beyond the service of a single narrative arc.”
Ars Technica

“It’s a compelling collection that mixes the epic and the intimate, one that succeeds at being profound, incredibly moving and, quite simply, stunning.”
Starburst Magazine, 10 out of 10 stars

“Some of Tidhar’s finest writing. Verdict: Come to Central Station and allow yourself to be enveloped in its embrace. ”
Sci-Fi Bulletin

Central Station combines a cultural sensibility too long invisible in SF with a sensibility which is nothing but classic SF, and the result is a rather elegant suite of tales.”

Central Station is without question the best assemblage of short stories I’ve read in recent memory…. Sublimely sensual, emotionally moreish, and composed with crystalline clarity irrespective of its incredible complexity.”

“It’s unlike any Science Fiction I’ve ever read, equally parts poetic, abstract, and authentic in its ability to show us a strange future we can believe that, yes, is certainly possible.”
Elitist Book Reviews

“The breadth of Tidhar’s imagination in this book just left me gasping…if you love worldbuilding, good characterisation and a world of possibilities, this is definitely for you.”
Blue Book Balloon

“This is a novel that captures the heart of human experience (in all it’s odd ways) whilst simultaneously building a world full of wonderful and far-reaching ideas. It’s beautiful, considered and complex in equal measure.”
The Bookbeard’s Blog

“I love Lavie Tidhar’s writing and, as always, here it is beautiful.”
For Winter Nights

“Tidhar’s imagination is not only seen in the newly-minted terms or the quirky languages the novel has, but in the ideas it contains. Central Station is full of fresh and well-thought concepts.”
Sense of Wonder

“A sprawling hymn to the glory and mess of cultural diversity.”
Guardian “Quietly enthralling and subtly ingenious.”
Asimov’s Science Fiction

“A gorgeous vision of what more likely than not will be the world to come and beautifully written to boot.”
Shelf Inflicted

“Great…it has a very Blade Runner feel to it.”
The Writerly Reader

“If SF is about expanding boundaries and making us think in new ways, then this is absolutely at the core of the genre. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
Fed on Peaches

“Powerfully imagined and beautifully rendered… capture[s] profound emotional truths”

Central Station is a thoughtful, poignant, human take on a possible future.”
Fantasy Literature   

“I loved the array of characters, cultures, real and imagined from the robotniks with their robotic religion, to the description of a futuristic Tel Aviv that was so vivid, I could almost see it.”
The Conversationalist

Tidhar is always really, really, good. Central Station is no exception.”

“Full of sublime ideas and beautiful, evocative prose…It is a novel to fall in love with.”
Dancing on Glass

“Intricate and otherworldly, emotional and thought provoking,”
Books, Bones & Buffy “Every page was a delight.”
Astounding Yarns

“It’s a really great piece of fiction, and one of the most interesting science-fiction novels of recent years.”

“The further I got into this novel, the more I enjoyed myself.”
The Little Red Reviewer

“[A] wonderfully inventive set of interconnected tales, brimming with sensory detail and paying tribute to a plethora of science-fiction tropes, there are few works to rival Central Station.”
Intergalactic Medicine Show

“[A] short, wonderful novel that I loved from beginning to end and thoroughly recommend.”
Sense of Wonder

“One of the most beautiful books of the year, absolutely the most grab-you-by-the-heart engaging.”

“Lavie Tidhar rewrote the rules of the short story collection to unforgettable effect.”

“Tidhar does a marvelous job of depicting his vision of Earth’s future, and after a few pages, you’re completely immersed in his semi-dystopian, realistic version of Tel Aviv.”
Girl Who Reads

“…a wonderful tribute to classic SF…”
Locus, Year in Review

“Amidst the loves and the fears, Tidhar reminds us of the intoxicating and invigorating power of longing and nostalgia.”
The Jewish Standard

“This is the future we were promised.  . . . In Central Station the future is all around, all those glittering, exciting, shimmering things that we learned to recognise from science fiction.”
—Paul Kincaid, the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy

“A tapestry of individual characters, every one artfully and lovingly drawn down to the very least, whose lives touch and interact with each other, but who exist in their own right.”
—Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shadows of the Apt

“Let us cease this charade: Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station must win the Arthur C Clarke Award of 2017.”

“Every page was a delight.” —Astounding Yarns “Groundbreaking  . . . Genius literary invention.”
Asimov’s SF

About the Author British Science Fiction and World Fantasy Award–winning author Lavie Tidhar was born in Israel. He has lived all over the world, including in Vanuatu, Laos, and South Africa, and is currently making his home in London. Tidhar has been compared to Philip K. Dick by the Guardian and to Kurt Vonnegut by Locus. His most recent novels,The Violent Century and A Man Lies Dreaming, were published to rapturous reviews in the UK, with the Independent referring to them as “masterpieces.”

Praise for the works of Lavie Tidhar

On Osama
“Bears comparison with the best of Philip K. Dick”
The Financial Times

World Literature Today

On The Violent Century
“A tour de force”
—James Ellroy, bestselling author of L.A. Confidential

“A stunning masterpiece”
The Independent

“A new masterpiece”
Library Journal

Jewish Standard

On A Man Lies Dreaming
“A twisted masterpiece”

The Telegraph


On The Bookman
“An emerging master”

“A steampunk treasure”
SFF World

“Sparks like a Roman candle”
Publishers Weekly

Visit the Lavie Tidhar website.

Excerpt Prologue I came first to Central Station on a day in winter. African refugees sat on the green, expressionless. They were waiting, but for what, I didn’t know. Outside a butchery, two Filipino children played at being airplanes: arms spread wide they zoomed and circled, firing from imaginary under-wing machine guns. Behind the butcher’s counter, a Filipino man was hitting a ribcage with his cleaver, separating meat and bones into individual chops. A little farther from it stood the Rosh Ha’ir shawarma stand, twice blown up by suicide bombers in the past but open for business as usual. The smell of lamb fat and cumin wafted across the noisy street and made me hungry. Traffic lights blinked green, yellow, and red. Across the road a furniture store sprawled out onto the pavement in a profusion of garish sofas and chairs. A small gaggle of junkies sat on the burnt foundations of what had been the old bus station, chatting. I wore dark shades. The sun was high in the sky and though it was cold it was a Mediterranean winter, bright and at that moment dry. I walked down the Neve Sha’anan pedestrian street. I found shelter in a small shebeen, a few wooden tables and chairs, a small counter serving Maccabee Beer and little else. A Nigerian man behind the counter regarded me without expression. I asked for a beer. I sat down and brought out my notebook and a pen and stared at the page. Central Station, Tel Aviv. The present. Or a present. Another attack on Gaza, elections coming up, down south in the Arava desert they were building a massive separation wall to stop the refugees from coming in. The refugees were in Tel Aviv now, centred around the old bus station neighbourhood in the south of the city, some quarter million of them and the economic migrants here on sufferance, the Thai and Filipinos and Chinese. I sipped my beer. It was bad. I stared at the page. Rain fell. I began to write: Once, the world was young. The Exodus ships had only begun to leave the solar system then; the world of Heven had not been discovered; Dr. Novum had not yet come back from the stars. People still lived as they had always lived: in sun and rain, in and out of love, under a blue sky and in the Conversation, which is all about us, always. This was in old Central Station, that vast space port which rises over the twin cityscapes of Arab Jaffa, Jewish Tel Aviv. It happened amidst the arches and the cobblestones, a stone-throw from the sea: you could still smell the salt and the tar in the air, and watch, at sunrise, the swoop and turn of solar kites and their winged surfers in the air. This was a time of curious births, yes: you will read about that. You were no doubt wondering about the children of Central Station. Wondering, too, how a Strigoi was allowed to come to Earth. This is the womb from which humanity crawled, tooth by bloody nail, towards the stars. But it is an ancestral home, too, to the Others, those children of the digitality. In a way, this is as much their story. There is death in here as well, of course: there always is. The Oracle is here, and Ibrahim, the alte-zachen man, and many others whose names may be familiar to you— But you know all this already. You must have seen The Rise of Others. It’s all in there, though they made everyone look so handsome. This all happened long ago, but we still remember; and we whisper to each other the old tales across the aeons, here in our sojourn among the stars. It begins with a little boy, waiting for an absent father. One day, the old stories say, a man fell down to Earth from the stars. . . .  

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