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Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
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Central Station

by Lavie Tidhar

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2551566,031 (3.63)16
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
It's more like 3.5 stars. This is beautifully written and interesting and maybe I should rate it higher, but I felt like it was almost too elliptical when coming to the conclusion of its various mysteries, and that's apparently not my preference in books with grand mysteries. ( )
  jeninmotion | Sep 24, 2018 |
There have been science fiction novels before that have tried to illustrate everyday life in the future. It's actually hard to pull that trick off, because all too often the writer attempts to shoe-horn all sorts of ideas into the book that just don't ring true, especially a few years down the line when it turns out that the future isn't as different as we expected. We see this now.If I'd read a novel when I was 14 about everyday life in the early 21st Century, I'd be excited by the computers, the Web, the mobile phones and the high-definition televisions connecting me to the world. But I'd be unimpressed by the absence of flying cars, silver suits and personal jetpacks. And I'd perhaps be surprised to find in that novel that many of us still live in the same houses, we catch buses or trains to work, we still read books (at least some of us), use utensils in our everyday lives that have been unchanged for centuries, and have things around us that are very old as well as brand new. (I have crockery and drinking glasses in particular that I know are a good sixty years old.) This isn't how we were told the future would be (and a good thing too, many would say).

Lavie Tidhar's 'Central Station' is a book that depicts a future as lived by ordinary people. They do things and have lives that are radically changed from our own; but at the same time, they live in spaces, and use things, that we would recognise; indeed, I'm sure that if you dived down to some of the scenes in the book, you would find things - the glasses in Miriam Jones' shebeen, the books in Achimwene's collection - that are with us now. And that is the great thing about this personal narrative, told in fourteen short stories, interlinked by characters and (in particular) the place. There is a tremendous sense of continuity, of how lives might be lived two hundred or so years from now.

There are differences, of course. Humanity has colonised space and travel to other worlds is comparatively commonplace. The virtual world has grown, and has become more seamlessly integrated with the biological. And human biology has been amended to adopt and adapt to these changes, sometimes in ways that seem to rob people of their humanity (except it doesn't, despite everything).

For some readers, the setting will seem the most fantastical part of the story - a spaceport built above the post-Israeli city of Tel Aviv. How we got there from here is not part of the story; there have been wars and peaces, and we get glimpses of the ruins of the Israel/Palestine we see today. But there is no sense that there has been any major dislocation of peoples; the region remains the melting pot it always was, and the building of Central Station in particular, an event just fading in human memory at the time of the book, acted as a magnet to draw people in from a range of different cultures. All have contributed to a diverse, vibrant city, though one not without its problems.

This is not a book of action and adventure. Some of the characters have lived lives that would be incredible to us - think Roy Batty's closing speech in Blade Runner, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...", though in Central Station, the characters would believe these things whilst recognising their wondrousness - but it is a book that rings true. The author was born in Israel and has lived all over the world. It shows in the lives he brings to our attentions; perhaps for a white, middle-aged British reader, this is as much a part of the fantastical picture as anything else. As someone once said, Earth is the alien planet. ( )
3 vote RobertDay | May 12, 2018 |
Reading this one for the World Book Club on FB; this month is Israel. This book is a classic science fiction with a suggestion of dystopian future, which brings in a Middle Eastern focus on family and generational living and close community ties. Religion plays a part, in that many alternative religions are brought into being. It is mainly a ‘slice of life’ book, in that there is no real plot line or mystery to follow. There isn’t any gore, and there is a little bit of romance, but the scenes are suggested or alluded to, rather than being detailed. An easy classic science fiction read that is easy to put down and get back into. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't really get a specific regional vibe from the book. I felt like if I had a more intimate understanding of Middle Eastern culture I might have understood more. ( )
  RecklessReader | Apr 15, 2018 |
* ARC copy received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

This book was a very unique read and quite different from what I usually read and what you usually find in the science fiction genre. It almost seems as a collection of short stories, except they all have a link that bonds them together, and that is the Central Station, this place that has been built over what used to be Tel Aviv and where most of the action in this book develops.

Through the pages of this book, we learn a little about the life of the people in this place and about how life is now in this future where there are robots and some sort of digital beings and blends between "races" and all sorts of different beings. There are a few main characters, but each "chapter" is actually focused on different characters, that sometimes are linked to the others and sometimes not (or not so directly) and that is why it almost feel as if you're reading a collection of short stories instead of a regular novel. :o

Maybe because of this "short story collection" like structure or maybe because of the writing, but I felt the pace of the book was very, very slow, very reflective, very "thoughtful", so to speak. There's no real action or exciting scenes and I felt that almost everything happened slowly, calmly and like in slow motion.

The characters are OK, even though I didn't particularly click with most of them. I don't know why, I couldn't feel much towards most of them, though I did like R. Patch-It, Motl and Achimwene. But they aren't main characters and I couldn't really come to love much all the other, more important characters. :/ I don't know why, because it's not like I "hated" them or that they annoyed me or anything. I just... Didn't connect with them much.

Since characters mean a lot to me, that made me not get so involved or so caught up by this story. I didn't find myself all passionate about their fates or craving to read to find out more. Instead, it took me a long while to progress through this reading, because I didn't feel compelled to come back to it.

Overall, it was an interesting plot and that's probably what I liked the most about this novel. The whole concept of these new beings that are among humans, these new "blends" of human with something else, these new type of vampires and the whole setting - how humanity is now, how connected everything else, how people who are not part of the Conversation are crippled, etc. -, everything about how this future is seemed very interesting to me, and the problems that it generates, this sort of mystery that there is behind everything else and that it gets somewhat unraveled through the stories, all that was very good and was what interested me the most about this book.

I guess what I liked the most was all the themes that you can visualize behind the futuristic setting and the characters and everything else. Things that get you to think, as most good science fiction does, about yourself, your identity, about what is life and why does it matter, what is "alive" and what isn't, what comes after death and whether we should have the right to decide how to die or not... All those things that you can either read between the lines or extract from situations, dialogs or monologues of the characters, where something I appreciated and that I liked a lot, was what kept me reading even when I didn't feel so fascinated by other elements.

So, yeah, it's an interesting read, very different and quite particular, with a lot of deep and thoughtful topics woven within it, and that I enjoyed, even though it didn't drive me crazy and I thought it would. ^_^ But it was very much worth reading it and I think it will be a worth reading for any sci-fi fan and, specially, to anyone who enjoys a more thoughtful, content-filled read, without too much focus on a particular plot or too much action and excitement.

( )
  MisaBookworm | Dec 5, 2017 |
Once upon a time fix-up novels were pretty common in science fiction. Authors would take a bunch of stories, lash them together with a crude framing narrative, and then the whole thing would be presented as a novel. Some were more successful than others… but the fix-up is still an ugly, lumpy and lop-sided beast of a narrative form. Central Station, although presented as a fix-up novel, and on plenty of novel award shortlists, strikes me more as a collection of linked stories, although there is a story arc which progresses throughout it. I remember one or two of the stories appearing in Interzone and, at the time, I wasn’t especially taken with them. But given the success of this “novel”, and because several people have told me the stories work better together than they did in isolation, I decided to give it a go. And… it still doesn’t really read like a novel. But the individual stories do benefit from being in a collection. Alone, they felt incomplete, unresolved, whereas the novel shows that the resolution is merely cumulative and deferred. The title refers to space port in Tel Aviv/Jaffa, and the stories are focused on a handful of families who live in the environs. There’s no date – it’s the future of a century or two hence – which occasionally leads to weird inconsistences in the setting, a feeling that tropes are deployed when needed rather than being integral, or natural, to the background. The prose, happily, is uniformly good, which means the stories are a pleasure to read. But if each individual story feels slightly unresolved, the novel, as a novel qua novel, manages not to feel that way. I don’t think Central Station is as adventurous, or as challenging, as some commentators have claimed, and it probably says more about the way we now view awards, than it does the book itself, that it’s appeared on so many shortlists – I mean, Osama, A Man Lies Dreaming, those were genuinely challenging sf novels. But, on the other hand, Central Station is a well-crafted piece of science fiction, with visible writing chops in evidence, and such books seem all too rare in the genre these days… ( )
  iansales | Aug 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lavie Tidharprimary authorall editionscalculated
Langton, Sarah AnneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mader, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I first came to Central Station on a day in winter.
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A worldwide diaspora has left a quarter of a million people at the foot of a space station. Cultures collide in real life and virtual reality. The city is literally a weed, its growth left unchecked. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper. When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik--a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return. Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv; a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation--a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness--are just the beginning of irrevocable change. At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive...and even evolve.… (more)

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