Lavie Tidhar’s CENTRAL STATION is barely a novel, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, it’s a loosely connected series of stories featuring a rotating cast of characters, and the gently ramshackle DIY nature of the narrative structure matches up perfectly with the DIY, maker-centric vision of the world that Central Station presents.
It is, in a word, dense, as all of these characters weave in and out of each others’ lives. Tidhar does a wonderful job of evoking the small-town sense of “everybody knows each other”, even in the shadow of the gateway to the wider physical universe the Station represents, and even in the shadow of the wider conceptual universe hinted at by the post-human AIs known as the Others and their human avatar, the Oracle. What results is a warm, generous narrative about how the simplest of human emotions – love and fear – and the most obvious of gestures – the spurned lover chasing after his beloved, even if the lover in question is a soldier from a long-forgotten war who’s long since been transmogrified into a machine, and the beloved is working through her feelings by piloting a virtual starship through a hole in virtual reality – retain their power to drive and transform us. Yes, CENTRAL STATION has cyborgs and AIs and data vampires and genetically engineered magical children, but at its heart it’s a gaggle of stories about love – love across the years, love across previously unthinkable boundaries, love across generations, and love between what has come before and what is coming next.
On HERE & NOW, NPR’s Petra Mayer recommends the novel and its immersive world building as a good summer read.
You really do get a sense of the way it smells and tastes. The way the air feels like. It’s this sort of dusty, bustling space port with all kinds of people, returning Martian spacemen and data vampires and antique book sellers and cyborg soldiers all mixing together in the streets, probably having a beer together.
Photo: Kevin Nixon. © Future Publishing 2013
Robin Brooks of GEEK DAD reviews the books of Lavie Tidhar including CENTRAL STATION.
Last month saw the publication of CENTRAL STATION, a collection of short stories by science fiction author Lavie Tidhar. Tidhar, winner of the 2012 World Fantasy Award, is building an impressive body of work. His latest offering demonstrates his ability to take an audacious concept, wed it to contemporary social commentary, and produce something readable and thought-provoking.
All of Tidhar’s novels that I’ve read feature a melting pot of characters and locations. Central Station is no exception. Set in the future, the eponymous travel hub is a space port located in Tel Aviv. A Tel Aviv greatly altered after centuries of future history. Jaffa – Tel Aviv is a city in the Judea Palestina Federal Union. Central Station is the blasting-off point for travel to the rest of the Solar System and beyond.
The narrative meanders all over the place. It’s as varied as its host of characters. Like Tidhar’s other novels CENTRAL STATION is not always easy-going, but it is always interesting. CENTRAL STATION has many of similar themes running through it, such as prejudice, acceptance, and seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Tidhar’s novels are full of stylistic quirks. I wouldn’t say he was an experimental writer, but he does like to play with convention, and push beyond what most author’s would consider appropriate style. This gives all his texts a unique feel, and mark him as one of the most interesting writers of science fiction in the business.
For more info about CENTRAL STATION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Sarah Anne Langton