As Lavie Tidhar’s CENTRAL STATION hits the shelves, more reviews and even a giveaway appear.
Photo: Kevin Nixon. © Future Publishing 2013.
The fine folks at TOR.COM are giving away a copy of CENTRAL STATION. Visit TOR.COM for the full details.
The book fascinates Rob Weber at VAL’S RANDOM COMMENTS.
Between 2011 and 2014 a series of short stories by Lavie Tidar appeared in such magazines as Interzone, Clarkesworld and Analog, as well as a couple of anthologies. All stories centred on Central Station, a space port facility located in the vicinity of Tel Aviv that has grown to become a city in itself. Tachyon Publications is now publishing a book containing rewritten versions of these stories with a few original pieces thrown in. The result is not quite a collection and not quite a novel. Publisher’s Weekly calls it a mosaic novel in their review. Perhaps that is the best description of this work. It is not a book that easily falls into a category whichever way you look at it and all the more fascinating for that.
With so many cultural influences on the society that has formed around Central Station, it is no surprise that the language is influenced as well. Most characters speak several languages, and Tidhar introduces a pidgin language early on in the book as well. There is a bit of English in it but a lot seems to come out of other languages. There’s bit of Yiddish in the novel too. Throughout the book Tidhar pays a lot of attention to the surroundings. The descriptions of the city and its institution are colourful, rich and tantalizing. There is constantly the feeling that you really want to explore one of the elements of CENTRAL STATION further. Tidhar keeps us on track however. Many of the fascinating things that can be found in Central Station are only mentioned in the passing.
All in all CENTRAL STATION is one of the most peculiar books I’ve read in a while. Tidhar could have made it into a collection but chose to rewrite the stories to make them fit into one narrative. It would probably have worked as a more traditional collection, but I must admit the rewrites add something to the book. The meandering plot will not please everybody. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that Tidhar refers to so many classics in science fiction, yet chooses a structure for his work that not many of those writers would have considered. It’s a work in conversation with the genre but not afraid to go off the beaten track. As such it is not a book for everybody, but if you like a book that is a bit different, CENTRAL STATION might be your thing. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one on the Nebula shortlist next year.
I think I’ve just read one of the books of the year, although we are only in April. Central Station is a compilation of stories with a fix-up style, in which the main protagonist is the stage in which they develop, although the characters share stories and parts of the plot. It is the first book of Lavie Tidhar that I read, and I can assure it will not be the last.
The style is very poetic, indirect, that leaves much to the imagination of the reader. They are not stories you can devour, they need a period of reflection to make all the pieces fit.
Lavie Tidhar has shown his great imagination, even at some point I think he has wasted it. There are many details that are not deepened and that would allow him to write much more in this universe: the colonization of the stars and the solar system, wars on our planet and the weapons used, new religions, implants that allow you to connect to a global communications network, the presence of the other (AIs) … These and other topics are touched only superficially. The world-building is so rich that I hope Tidhar will come back to it to provide us with new stories as great as the stories of this anthology.
I think the novel is a hymn against uniformity and in favor of diversity. Diversity in all aspects: genetic and racial diversity (the originality of the ethnic mix of the main characters is a great point), diversity of beliefs (although today’s major religions survive, there are some new cults), diversity of identity (artificial intelligences, humans and robots coexist in a pluralistic society … even there are mental vampires), sexual diversity (all kinds of relationships is well seen), and habitat diversity (although, unfortunately, the different spaces that humanity has managed to colonize are not described in detail ).
A fully recommended reading, I’m sure you will hear about it in next year’s great awards.
Kat of THE TOP SHELF, the North Vancouver City library reader’s blog, includes CENTRAL STATION among her Spring reading list.
Tidhar was the 2012 World Fantasy Award Winner for OSAMA, and has been compared to classic Sci-Fi giants like Philip K. Dick and Kurt Vonnegut. This novel is almost more of a collection of inter-related stories, and has been described as a blend of speculative fiction, family history, faith, racial and cultural tension, all meditating on what it means to be human. It’s a challenging but rewarding title.
For more info about CENTRAL STATION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and poster by Sarah Anne Langton