CENTRAL STATION is a beautifully atmospheric and deeply moving mosaic novel
The reviews and mentions of Lavie Tidhar’s well-written CENTRAL STATION keep rolling in.
Photo: Kevin Nixon. © Future Publishing 2013.
In INTERZONE 264, Jonathan McCalmont reviews the novel.
Made up of short
stories that first appeared in INTERZONE and a few other placers,
CENTRAL STATION is a beautifully atmospheric and deeply moving mosaic
novel about the realities of life in the a futuristic Tel Aviv where
cultures clash, religions spawn and Otherness is exported to the
multicultural approach to science fictional weirdness is most evident
in the way he handles religion, as his futuristic Tel Aviv appears to
have learned from the ethnic and religious violence of our era and
bacome a place where different identities and beliefs grow stronger
by intertwining. This is a world in which a church operated by robots
not only embraces same-sex marriage but looks on benignly when a
combination of performance art, high-technology, and powerful
narcotics prompt the creation of brand new gods that burn intensely
but only for a short while.
Novels like OSAMA, A
MAN LIES DREAMING, and THE VIOLENT CENTURY may well have won awards,
but nothing I read in those novels prepared me for the excitement I
felt when reading CENTRAL STATION. At a time when science fiction is
all too often reduced to the stale visuals of American films, it is
nice to be reminded that a multicultural 21st century
science fiction can still speak to who we are and where we are
TATTERED, YELLOWED, & CREASED praises the book.
The towering spaceport of Central Station rises over the old city of Tel Aviv, a melting-pot of Arab, Jew, and the multicultural thousands who flocked there in the wake of a worldwide diaspora. The city’s sprawl is unchecked, packed with hundreds of thousands of people both real and digital, all blended together in one Conversation—the digital network and stream-of-consciousness that cascades all noded life-forms into one stream of endless data. It is the transhuman future, a complex hybrid of beauty and decay… a world as brilliant in its originality as it is startling in its familiarity.
Tidhar’s prose presents the ethereal beauty of a landscape blending the ramshackle, the exotic, and the alluring, blending sickly-sweet fresh love with the sad pangs of heartbreak. Tidhar has quite a way with words, and paints the poetic imagery of future Earth with precision; the plot is a delicate and ephemeral thing, but his writing has a captivating power that I found hard to put down.
CENTRAL STATION is very much in the vein of literary science fiction, rooted in human-driven drama and eschewing genre’s typical love affair with plot—it’s nearly plotless, to be honest. But is as much a “literary” novel as it is a homage to pulp fiction—see the cover—a love-letter to SF which has come before. There’s a multitude of easter-eggs references scattered throughout these pages: a nod to God’s nine billion names; things will use the verb “ubicked;” the term for “data vampire” is a homage to C.L. Moore’s pulp story “Shambleau,” chosen with obvious care.
CENTRAL STATION is a subtle but well-written novel, handling emotionally rich and complex themes with dazzling clarity. The lack of closure for some of its plot-lines may be a bit unsatisfying for mainstream readers, but the novel is never boring—quite the opposite, it’s intoxicating, a dreamlike masterpiece (or near enough to a masterpiece for me). It’s one of the most unique and ambitious SF novels I’ve read of late, and I won’t be surprised to see it on awards lists (particularly the Nebula) later this year. CENTRAL STATION is available now, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see what the future of science fiction looks like.
DANCING ON GLASS fell in love with Tidhar’s latest.
admired OSAMA and THE VIOLENT CENTURY a great deal and I loved A MAN
LIES DREAMING but CENTRAL STATION is a novel to fall in love with.
Tidhar, it goes without saying now, is a fantastic writer and his new
book is a rare and glorious thing, full of sublime ideas and
beautiful, evocative prose.
CENTRAL STATION is a rich, complex and satisfying work of art. It manages to be spectacularly lyrical (I was going to write ‘literary’ but stopped myself) and spectacularly sfnal too. I’m not sure it has ploughed down into my unconscious like a Harrison text or as novels by Robson and Fagan have this year but I realise that doesn’t matter. It’s more of an aesthetic pleasure – the pleasure of language and ideas, of cerebral oohs and aahs and of wonder. It is metaphorically rich in its thinking about the relationship of places and spaces to time, memory and history. It is meditative and kind. It is daring and full of grace.
It is a novel to fall in love with.
Fleur Clarke at HODDERSCAPE includes CENTRAL STATION in her “Around
The World in 18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels.”
The CHICAGO NERD SOCIAL CLUB has chosen the book as their June Book Club selection.
When: Monday, June 13th, 2016, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Filter Cafe 1373-75 N. Milwaukee Ave
For more info about CENTRAL STATION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and poster by Sarah Anne Langton