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Central Station Paperback – May 10, 2016
Enhance your purchase
An Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book
A Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book of 2016
Longlist, British Science Fiction Award 2016, Best Novel
2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee
"It's all of science fiction distilled into a single book."
―Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine
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.
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An NPR Best Book of 2016
A Barnes & Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2016 pick
A Kirkus Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Books You'll Want to Read in May
An Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book of May
A Tor.com Best Book of 2016
A Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book of 2016
Featured in the Jewish Telegraph
Featured on the Reading Envy podcast
A Publishers Weekly Staff Pick
A Bookskill Recommended Book
Kirkus 2016 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy pick
An SFBluestocking Best of 2016
Best Science Fiction Books Top 10 of 2016
2021 Xingyun Award for Best Translated Fiction, Chinese
2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee
2017 John. W. Campbell Award nominee
[STAR] ?World Fantasy Award?winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport. In a future border town formed between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa, cyborg ex-soldiers deliver illicit drugs for psychic vampires, and robot priests give sermons and conduct circumcisions. The Chong family struggles to save patriarch Vlad, lost in the inescapable memory stream they all share, thanks to his father’s hack of the Conversation, the collective unconscious. New children, born from back-alley genetic engineering, begin to experience actual and virtual reality simultaneously. Family and faith bring them all back and sustain them. Tidhar gleefully mixes classic SF concepts with prose styles and concepts that recall the best of world literature. The byways of Central Station ring with dusty life, like the bruising, bustling Cairo streets depicted by Naguib Mahfouz. Characters wrestle with problems of identity forged under systems of oppression, much as displaced Easterners and Westerners do in the novels of Orhan Pamuk. And yet this is unmistakably SF. Readers of all persuasions will be entranced.”
―?Publishers Weekly, starred review
[STAR] ?. . . a fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells.”
?―Library Journal, starred review
?It is just this side of a masterpiece ? short, restrained, lush ? and the truest joy of it is in the way Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk.”
?A marvellous, multi-faceted story that flows gently from one character to another like an intimate private tour of Tel Aviv and the spaceport at its centre.”
?A fantastic mosaic novel.”
?―New York Review of Science Fiction
?Tidhar, who the Guardian newspaper compared to Philip K. Dick, has given the world a fascinating and imaginative snapshot of a distant future.”
?―Charlie Shifflett, author of Accomplices
?Breathtakingly heady . . . a wonderfully inventive set of interconnected tales, brimming with sensory detail and paying tribute to a plethora of science-fiction tropes.”
?―Intergalactic Medicine Show
?Tidhar presents a richly constructed future in this beautifully crafted world.”
?―David Brin, author of Startide Rising and Existence
?Central Station is in every way a literary masterpiece.”
―?The Future Fire
?Thought-provoking . . . highly intellectual.”
”A sprawling hymn to the glory and mess of cultural diversity.”
”Quietly enthralling and subtly ingenious.”
?―Asimov's Science Fiction
?Beautiful, original, a shimmering tapestry of connections and images - I can't think of another SF novel quite like it. Lavie Tidhar is one of the most distinctive voices to enter the field in many years.”
?―Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series
?If you want to know what SF is going to look like in the next decade, this is it.”
―?Gardner Dozois, editor of the bestselling Year’s Best Science Fiction series
?A dazzling tale of complicated politics and even more complicated souls. Beautiful.”
?―Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings
?If Nalo Hopkinson and William Gibson held a séance to channel the spirit of Ray Bradbury, they might be inspired to produce a work as grimy, as gorgeous, and as downright sensual as Central Station.”
?―Peter Watts, author of Blindsight
?Central Station is masterful: simultaneously spare and sweeping?a perfect combination of emotional sophistication and speculative vision. Tidhar always stuns me.”
?―Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of the River of Bees
?Central Station boasts complexity without complication, sharp prose, and a multi-dimensional world.”
―?Jeffrey Ford, author of The Girl in the Glass
? A unique marriage of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, C. L. Moore, China Miéville, and Larry Niven with 50 degrees of compassion and the bizarre added. An irresistible cocktail.”
―?Maxim Jakubowski, author of the Sunday Times bestselling Vina Jackson novels
?Tidhar weaves strands of faith and science fiction into a breathtaking and lush family history of the far future.”
?―Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead
?Disturbingly strange, yet bizarrely familiar, like implanted memories from a future you have not yet lived. I loved it.”
―Eileen Gunn, author of Stable Strategies and Others
?A mosaic of mind-blowing ideas and a dazzling look at a richly-imagined, textured future.”
―?Aliette de Bodard, author of The House of Shattered Wings
"I recommend it highly. It'll stay with you for days, because every idea in it has more ideas under it. It's all of science fiction distilled into a single book."
?―Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine
"It's an amazing book!"
?―Jewelle Gomez author of The Gilda Stories
?Central Station is brilliant.”
?―Barnes and Noble
?[Tidhar] has created a textured and original future that echoes real historical and economic tensions while satisfying veteran readers with deliberate echoes of classic science fiction?Deeply humane.”
?It's a compelling collection that mixes the epic and the intimate, one that succeeds at being profound, incredibly moving and, quite simply, stunning.”
?―Starburst Magazine, 10 out of 10 stars
?Central Station combines a cultural sensibility too long invisible in SF with a sensibility which is nothing but classic SF, and the result is a rather elegant suite of tales.”
?Central Station is without question the best assemblage of short stories I’ve read in recent memory?. Sublimely sensual, emotionally moreish, and composed with crystalline clarity irrespective of its incredible complexity.”
?I smelled the smells of Tel Aviv in the first paragraph of the introduction, meat cooking and sweat and sand and Mediterranean air. I saw the city squares, flowing with life and laughter and languages. I felt like I had come home.”
?The breadth of Tidhar's imagination in this book just left me gasping?if you love worldbuilding, good characterisation and a world of possibilities, this is definitely for you.”
―?Blue Book Balloon
?Powerfully imagined and beautifully rendered? capture[s] profound emotional truths”
?Central Station is a thoughtful, poignant, human take on a possible future.”
”A gorgeous vision of what more likely than not will be the world to come and beautifully written to boot.”
"A wonderful tribute to classic SF..."
―?Locus, Year in Review
”This is the future we were promised. . . . In Central Station the future is all around, all those glittering, exciting, shimmering things that we learned to recognise from science fiction.”
―?Paul Kincaid, the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy
”A tapestry of individual characters, every one artfully and lovingly drawn down to the very least, whose lives touch and interact with each other, but who exist in their own right.”
?―Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shadows of the Apt
”Amidst the loves and the fears, Tidhar reminds us of the intoxicating and invigorating power of longing and nostalgia.”
―?The Jewish Standard
“Every page was a delight.”
“Groundbreaking . . . Genius literary invention.”
“[A] gorgeous sci-fi fever dream.”
―Too Other Worlds
- ASIN : 1616962143
- Publisher : Tachyon Publications (May 10, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781616962142
- ISBN-13 : 978-1616962142
- Reading age : 12 years and up
- Item Weight : 9.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.38 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #521,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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If there's one criticism, and I suppose you could call it a big one, it's merely that the actual central plot feels slight and somewhat unimportant. We never spend enough time with any one character, or really get close enough to them, to become entirely attached to them even though we like them. And the central thread of the story, while interesting in the unfolding, doesn't feel like it offers anything huge in the way of surprise or depth or etc. So that's Central Station, a well written, well thought out, well put together piece who's skill only finds lack in that what it's putting up is passing entertainment instead of something grander.
First off, it is very well written. There are various story threads, following various characters, as they end up in the same place - a future Tel Aviv. It mixes recognizable details with future details - firmly letting you know this is the future but it is a future you can envision. It was a bit confusing at first but it settled down and became clearer after a bit. The future it describes is interesting and believable.
However, the book felt very much like it was setting up this world. If I found out this was going to be the first in a series, it would totally make sense. Everything built to an ending and we did get a kind of ending. We see why these people moved together to be there and we see that many of them were manipulated in a way to get there to do what needed to get done to have that scene.
But the end didn't provide closure. I understand now where they were headed and for what. But it isn't "Ok, that is resolved." It doesn't feel that way at all. At the end I felt "ok... so what does that mean? What is going to happen now?"
I am giving it the 4 stars I want to give if we are going to get another book with some more information. But take it with a grain of salt. If this is the end all and be all... it feels unfinished.
Based on the other reviews, maybe it is only me. But I need some closure. Or some direction as to where these people are going from here.
Unfortunately, perhaps because most of the chapters were originally written as short stories, following the lives of the many characters through the book was quite a challenge. I often found myself wondering, "Whatever became of so-and-so?" and was disappointed to find no more than a passing mention, particularly when the character had been the focus of an entire chapter. I also became distracted by trying to figure out exactly how far in the future this world was supposed to take place, and only discovered a direct mention of 200 years in one of the later chapters. For all the differences between this future and our present, I found too much that had not changed---from the names of corporations to modes of ground transportation to clothing styles---as compared to the differences between now and 200 years ago, and I had difficulty believing that so much time had passed. This seems a minor point, but it did detract from my ability to immerse myself in the book's world.
In short, if you're looking for space opera or a fast-paced SF adventure story, look elsewhere. If you want to consider what everyday life might be like on this planet as technology and social globalization advance, this book is worth a read.
Top reviews from other countries
The book references many other science fiction writers, from the phrasing and mosaic structure of works by Cordwainer Smith and Clifford D Simak to the depiction of easy access to extraordinary technology and the resulting borderless, inter-racial societies explored by the cyberpunks. However, ‘Central Station’ is not some noirish futuristic thriller; it deals with a society built over old wounds and conflicts that are not resolved so much as rendered unimportant by the sheer passage of ordinary years. It is as if Lavie Tidhar has made something wholly new out of fragments of other science fiction, in the same way as the denizens of his novel have made an unexpectedly cohesive society out of bits and pieces of old inventions and religions.
Two ideas underlie the narrative: one is the famous John Lennon quotation about life being what happens when you’re planning your main event; the other is about the inexorability of change. Indeed, the book combines these two themes so effortlessly it is easy to overlook how sublime the storytelling is.
Being science fiction of course, what is ordinary to the characters is extraordinary to us: a maker of gods who could be some kind of artist or, literally, a maker of gods; a haunted data-vampire girl and her lover, who is deemed an invalid because he cannot access the Conversation; a woman who runs a little bar whose adopted son may be a vat-produced messiah and the woman’s erstwhile lover, who may have been the boy’s creator.
It is not so much the originality of these ideas that is striking so much as the characters’ practical, stoic and humane responses to them. The boy might be a messiah, but he is still a boy. The data vampire may be part of a larger mystery, but she is still a vulnerable young woman; the god artist may be uncanny, but he appreciates the friendship of an old builder dissolving in memories he cannot control and a rag and bone man who is probably immortal.
Very few novels convey the feeling of dense and busy time, compacted over centuries, quite as well as this one. There are stories within stories and a medley of languages from Hebrew to the pidgin English of immigrants who came to Tel Aviv as workers and stayed for generations. The result is that rare thing: an actual science fictional language, as multifaceted conceptually as it is phonetically.
This achievement would be considerable on its own. That it is filtered through obstinate, loving, confused human beings and their post-human counterparts (the lovely old robot priest R. Brother Patch-It, who is also a part-time moyen; the old ‘robotnik’ cyborg soldiers who can’t get parts anymore; the eerily mischievous digital Others) in a way that is not only recognisable but compelling makes ‘Central Station’ one of my favourite books of the year.