Poetic CENTRAL STATION is one of the Best Sci-Fi Books of 2016 So Far

At FLAVORWIRE, Jonathon Sturgeon included Lavie Tidhar’s moving, lyrical, and insightful CENTRAL STATION among The 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2016 So Far

Tidhar, another World Fantasy Award winner, sets this novel-of-stories in the wake of a diaspora that brings thousands of immigrants to a spaceport. Robotniks, virtual reality, cheap data. It’s by some measure the most interesting world presented in SF/F this year.

Woody Haut on his eponymous blog praises the novel.

And most recently CENTRAL STATION, a novel that’s appeared in bits and pieces in various magazines over the last few years. Likewise, it’s a bit of a  jigsaw puzzle of book that reads like a prose poem based perhaps on some barely recognisable or remembered mythology. Perhaps something along the lines of  a 21st century version of Theodore Sturgeon’s MORE THAN HUMAN crossed with Tanith Lee poetic-realism. Based on the four Tidhar novels I’ve read over the past couple years, his work seems to get better and better. And even though I’ve come to expect a certain range and unexpectedness, CENTRAL STATION was still full of surprises. But, then, that’s been the case since his 2011 novel OSAMA (I’ve yet to read his daunting but no doubt readable steampunk trilogy THE BOOKMAN HISTORIES), the title alone demonstrating the author’s willingness  to go places  few others would dare. One gets the feeling that Tidhar, who grew up on a socialist kibbutz in Israel, followed by long spells in South Africa and elsewhere before ending up in London where he now resides, couldn’t be dull if he tried. 

As with A MAN LIES DREAMING, Tidhar has created a poetic, dream-like, even nostalgic, world that, however foreign, is all too imaginable. Which might well be the hallmark of any good science fiction story. Beneath it all CENTRAL STATION yearns for a place that once was, or maybe never was save for someplace deep within the author imagination… And like a disturbing and complicated dream, it’s a novel that, like A MAN LIES DREAMING, will haunt any appreciative reader long after he or she has turned its final page. 

For VBPL (Virginia Beach Public Library) RECOMMENDS, Tracy V. reviews the book.

This world has made advances with cyber tech, AI, and genetic engineering, humanity has spread far into space, and the definitions of human and living have become more fluid.  It is a future where everything is online, and everyone is connected to the data stream (the Conversation) with their virtual lives taking on their own existence.  Tidhar is not afraid to think outside of the box for this imaginary future and explore interesting ideas.  The definition of humans have stretched with cyborgs, modified humans, robots, AIs, and alien presence.  Same with the definition of living, there are virtual-only existences and some hybrid of virtual and physical.  Just the way they think of themselves and what they worry about is so different and intriguing and, at the heart of it, still something human that readers can relate to. 

Tidhar’s writing establishes a strong sense of place with Central Station.  He draws strongly on Tel Aviv’s present-day heritage and culture and its mingling of other peoples to build this imaginative version.  There is a strong international flavor, with cultural foods, sights, language, and even religion.  The writing is literary and poetic.  His prose grounds the story and ties all these elements together into one convincing and believable package.  His writing establishes the feel of this world better than any technical details.  He writes with conviction and captures the way the different characters experience their world, their interactions, and their dialogue–all as insiders rather than an outsider looking in–adding to that immersive experience. 

For more info about CENTRAL STATION, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton