One of the best reads of the year, Lavie Tidar’s NEOM is lush and exquisitely crafted

NEOM, Lavie Tidhar’s long awaited return to the universe of the John W. Campbell Award Winner CENTRAL STATION, continues to attract effuse praise from a variety of quarters including Laura Hiatt in Library Journal, Gareth D. Jones for SFcrowsnest, Nonstop Reader, Bill Capossere at Fantasy Literature, Tar Vol on, Scrapping and Playing, and in New Scientist, Sally Adee recommends the book. At both The Fantasy Hive and Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favorite Bit, Tidhar contributed essays relate to the novel.

Neom by Lavie Tidhar
Cover by Elizabeth Story

Old and new fans alike will adore this fascinating new addition to Tidhar’s future Earth universe, and science fiction buffs would do well to put Tidhar on their radar of must-read authors.

Library Journal

From the very start, the atmosphere engulfed me as I delved once more into this world of Lavie Tidhar’s imagination. I could almost feel the heat and the glare of the sun as the megalopolis that is Neom is slowly introduced through the eyes of Mariam, one of the city’s poor who holds down several jobs to make a living. This also gives us the perfect opportunity to experience various and disparate aspects of the city through her jaded eyes.


This is such an engaging story, told in such lush and exquisitely crafted prose that I was swept away from the first few pages. At its heart, it’s a story of longing and family, beauty and danger, and a coming of age adventure with a clever and loyal young protagonist who has a dream and a path to follow. There are several disparate plot threads which wind closer throughout the book though it never comes to a clean denouement and resolution. There are glimpses of overarching themes which center around the interplanetary hub from Tidhar’s earlier book but most of the book is word pictures and allegory.

Nonstop Reader

Because, and so far I think I can say this about every Tidhar story I’ve picked up, you should read this book, even if it doesn’t have quite the impact of his best work (and choosing amongst his books for that title would be difficult) and even it is a bit light on plot perhaps for some. But honestly, before reading this, I was at the point where if I could auto-purchase Tidhar book like I auto-pay my bills so that they’re shipped automatically to me as they’re published, I’d sign up for that service, and NEOM would have been a welcome arrival in that system.

Fantasy Literature

But whatever it is, I liked NEOM a lot. I won’t say that every single perspective was jaw-dropping, and I’m not sure there’s a one that’s going to anchor itself in my mind and not let go. But it’s a beautiful and touching tapestry, certainly among my favorites of the year.

Tar Vol on

A novel that kept me reading, moved me to tears for an old automaton being destroyed, love the characters.
I enjoyed it, found it entertaining but it also made me think as the descriptions of NEOM are so similar to those of our world.

Scrapping and Playing

Everything that ignites passion and outrage today will be decrepit and decayed tomorrow. NEOM, in Tidhar’s eponymous book, isn’t a plan for a cutting-edge city in Saudi Arabia that has appalled many, but a fait accompli that is the backdrop of a beautiful and far more interesting story.

New Scientist
Lavie Tidahe author photo

What I realised as I was doing it, though, was that I still loved science fiction. I didn’t really want to quit. I just needed a change. It turns out that when you take out the weird stuff – the “elves and aliens”, as I sometimes call it – well, you start missing them after a while. At least I did. So during the second lockdown in the UK, while I was supposed to be finishing Maror, I went instead back to the world of CENTRAL STATION, and wrote the misadventures of a rather odd robot as it arrives one day in the city of Neom, buys a flower and takes it out into the desert. This book, called NEOM, is out now from Tachyon Publications.

The Fantasy Hive

I was in the middle of our second pandemic lockdown, in the cold of winter and unable to concentrate on the huge literary novel, Maror, that I was supposed to be writing. Instead, the image came to me of a robot and a flower. I didn’t know who the robot was or what it was doing, so I wrote it to find out. The robot confounded me. It bought a rose in the market of the city of Neom, a would-be megalopolis sprawled along the Red Sea, the real-world fever-dream of a Saudi prince. Then the robot took the flower it bought, took it deep into the desert, left it beside a long-forgotten cenotaph of a long-forgotten war, and then it casually stomped on a scorpion with its foot.

My Favorite Bit