Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

central station

Central Station is unlike anything I can recall having read either recently or a while ago. Not a traditional novel, Central Station is a mosaic novel comprised of several older short stories previously published in different short fiction venues and two entirely new ones. Tying all these stories together is Central Station, a space station on the outskirts of Tel Aviv that has become a primary hub of space travel and an constantly oscillating area of cultural exchange. In this future, data is both the medium and the stuff of reality driving knowledge, understanding, and reality. Humans coexist (or not) with sentient machines, robots, cyborgs, data vampires, and Others, creatures made up of pure data itself.

Central Station features a cast of recurring characters such as Boris Chong, who’s just returned from Mars after several years away from Tel Aviv and is now picking up with his old flame Miriam while dealing with his elderly father, Vlad, who is trapped inside his own memory. Motl the robotnik, a metal machine with the brain of a formerly alive human man, and who was created to fight one of Israel’s long-ago wars and discarded when the technology became obsolete, is in love with Isabel, whose job it is to play a fully immersive MMO as the captain of a spaceship. Ibrahim is the rag-and-bone man, also known as the Lord of Discarded Things, who regularly provides the inhabitants of Central Station with ancient tech and treasures of times long ago. His son Ismail and Miriam’s son Kranki are two mysterious boys who may represent humanity’s next step in this digital age. These characters and many more drive this multifaceted novel of both a provincial land-bound community and a far-flung expansive world out amongst the stars.

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