Enjoyable CENTRAL STATION is about the human condition
Photo: Kevin Nixon. © Future Publishing 2013
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE 5TH KIND, Manuel Augusto Antão gives Lavie Tidhar’s CENTRAL STATION 4 stars.
This is a navel gazing novel; a friend of mine would say it’s a novel about the human condition. Back in the day, this was the stuff that interested me less. But they say SF at its best is allegorical and because contemporary versions are all about we live in navel gazing times, this one was much up my alley.
This is my first Tidhar, but I suspect that all of his novels may have existentialist themes to them. I’m not exactly sure what the true premise of this book is, except that it’s no longer difficult to imagine some of the fiction in SF and that the struggles of book’s characters now seem oddly familiar to me. Every single story in this book’s tapestry has a subtle human angle: The greatest dangers for Jews and Arabs in this novel are not each other, but “strigoi” humans with vampire-like power; at the Central Station, ethnicity, religion, race, technology, and virtual reality rub elbows; descriptions of fantastical aspects of the future seem like references to completely commonplace occurrences…sublime writing. SF with believable characters with complex emotional lives driving the plot. Wow, if only someone had thought of this before of course; there is a lot SF that has unrealistic characters driven by the needs of the plot, but that describes all fiction. The all-over-the-place plot will not be to anyone’s tastes, even to the SF hardcore fan. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that Tidhar refers to so many classics in SF, yet he chose a structure for his work that not many of those writers would have considered. It’s a work in constant dialogue with the genre but not afraid to go off the beaten path. As such it is not a book for everyone, but if one likes a book that is a bit weird even by SF standards, “Central Station” might be your thing. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Manchester SciFi Book Club chose CENTRAL STATION as their April 18th selection.
Manchester SciFi Book Club meet on the third Tuesday of every month to discuss a science fiction book previously chosen by the group. Discussions are informal and you don’t even need to have read any SciFi before to come along.
21st Feb – THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers (432 pages)
21st Mar – READY PLAYER ONE BY ERNEST CLINE (384 pages)
18th Apr – CENTRAL STATION by Lavie Tidhar (288 pages)
16th May – A CALCULATED LIFE by Ann Charnock (208 pages)
For Week 3 of Translations Special, STARSHIPSOFA offers the audio version of Nir Yaniv’s Hebrew “Benjamin Schneider’s Little Greys,” as translated by Lavie Tidhar and read by Jonathan Danz.
UNSUNG STORIES is kickstarting their forthcoming anthology 2084.
In 1948 George Orwell saw a world in flux. After the tumult of two World Wars he saw lessons being forgotten, the slow creep of authoritarianism and the potential for our future to be a dark and oppressive place.
Now, in 2017, we’re seeing the UK crashing out of the EU, with no idea of what comes next. President Trump is at loggerheads with the US government, his own party even, and trying to push through ever more controversial laws. Nigel Farage, inflated by a bizarre success, now wants to split California into two states. And all the while, the ice caps are melting and our climate is changing irrevocably.
There’s a reason they’re making the series of The Handmaid’s Tale today. We live in a world where Presidential staff think a lie is an ‘alternative fact’. Truth is becoming fluid, malleable, an annoyance more than an obligation for those in power.
Today we know how prophetic Orwell was, with the very language of his imagined future entering our present. With the seismic shocks, politically and culturally, still resonating after 2016, the time is right to look ahead again.
2084 features 13 stories from leading science fiction writers who were all asked the same question – what will our world look like 67 years from now? The anthology features new and exclusive stories from:
- Jeff Noon
- Christopher Priest
- James Smythe
- Lavie Tidhar
- Aliya Whiteley
- David Hutchinson
- Cassandra Khaw
- Desirina Boskovich
- Anne Charnock
- Ian Hocking
- Oliver Langmead
- Courttia Newland
- Irenosen Okojie
In 1948 Orwell looked at the world around him and wrote 1984, now a classic dystopian novel. Here 13 writers asked themselves the same question as Orwell did – where are we going, what is our future?
13 predictions of the world, 70 years in the future. By 2084 the world we know will be history. These stories envision what our world will look like seven decades later.
See the flooded metropolises of the future, trek the wastelands of all that is left. Imagine the legacy of President Trump, and visit the borders of a future Europe. Say goodbye to your body as humanity joins the computers, or say goodbye to your freedom as the state takes control. All of these things may come to pass.
Warnings or prophesies? Paradise or destruction? Will we be proud of what we have achieved, in 2084?
Our future unfolds before us.
For more info about CENTRAL STATION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and image by Sarah Anne Langton