Central Station is a cyberpunk novel set in a future where Tel-Aviv hosts a huge space station called (as the title may suggest :P) Central Station. Thousands of people are living there including genetically modified children, robotniks (former human soldiers turned into robots), robot-priest and data-vampires.
I don’t think that the term novel really suits Central Station and I don’t think that it shoud be marketed as one. For me, this a collection of short stories set in the same world, each chapters being a different story. They’re all linked with each others but, for the most part, they can stand on their own.
Central Station is a fascinating mosaic, each tile representing a life. Of course, on their own, they can interesting but when they’re put together, they form a beautiful picture.
In this collection, Tidhar managed to create an extremely vivid world, very easily picturable and realistic. You can almost smell everything, the street, the meals and the people.
At first, it can be a little overwhelming, I could feel how Tidhar invested himself into Central Station and how much he wanted us, readers, to see his world the way he did. The first stories of this collection especailly are full of descriptions of pretty much everything, we were told how they looked, how they felt, how they smelled and sometimes how they tasted. At first, it can be a tad too much but once you get used to it, it’s actually very interesting.
As I said before, Central Station is more a collection of short stories than a novel and most of the stories/chapters were previously published in SF magazines (mostly in Clarkesworld, Analog and Interzone). I believe that only two stories were original to this collection.
All of the stories are pretty short and I sometimes wished they were longer. I read a fair number of short fiction recently and I don’t usually struggle with their lenght however, most of the stories in Central Station left me a bit frustrated at the end. Indeed, They were full of great ideas but sometimes they felt underdevelopped. Some of them could have been novellas or even full novels. Yes, most of the stories were interlinked to form a « kind-of » novel but, it wasn’t enough for me…
However, it had great ideas and reflexions on evolution, humanity, diversity, love and discovery and I really appreciated how innovative it was.
For this, I can only recommend this to all the science fiction readers out there. It had some flaws, but, at least, it was trying new things. (And you can’t say that for all the SF out there.)
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find Central Station in a bunch of awards shortlists next year and it would 100 % deserve it !