Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

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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 !

Recommended.

 

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
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9 thoughts on “Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

  1. I completely agree! I just finished this book as well, and I thought it was so creative and imaginative. I had no idea it was a series of interlinked stories when I started, so I kept waiting for *something* to happen, but in the end I really loved it.

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  2. I’ve had my eye on this title for quite some time now, with strong “book vibes” – now I’m convinced I should give it a try: what’s more intriguing is the almost-full-sensory-experience of it – it’s something I’m very curious about.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    • If you’re not a fan of short fiction, I don’t think that it is the best way to start with Tidhar. I haven’t read any of his “real” novels yet but I am really intrigued by A Man Lies Dreaming and Osama, they might be a better place to start with his works for you. 🙂

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  3. I’ve wanted to read something by this author for a while. I didn’t want to start with a short story collection though, but now I see that it’s actually a series of related stories that make a whole? I read a book that was this format just recently, and it actually worked a lot better for me versus just a book of unrelated shorts. I might check this out now!

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    • I know you’re not the biggest fan of short fiction in general so I don’t know if it’s the best way for you to start his work. The story are indeed related but since they were published separately sometimes, they can be a tad repetitive.. I want to read other things by Tidhar to see what he can do with a “real” novel.

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