Just finished: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Here’s the blurb:

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.

My thoughts:

Ok, look, this was chosen by our Science Fiction book club as our read because it was on a Best of 2016 so far list. I don’t know that I would have chosen to read this book otherwise. That being said, good on our book club for pushing us to read outside our comfort zone.

The prose of this novel was actually very strong. For example,

“There comes a time in a man’s life when he realizes stories are lies. Things do not end neatly. The enforced narratives a human impinges on the chaotic mess that is life become empty labels, like the dried husks of corn such as are thrown down in the summer months from the adaptoplant dwellings to litter the street below.”

This was the saving grace for this book for me. Otherwise it tried to fit way to many concepts into one slim volume.

Our group has really been enjoying episodic novels told from multiple points of view so our hopes were high. Unfortunately, this narrative style works against the author in this case. Rather than cleverly unifying the story it fragments it. The cast of characters was large and unweildy which was also made worse by the narrative format.

Speaking of concepts, I was super interested in the idea of artificial intelligence as first contact. Unfortunately, that story gets shunted off to the side to talk about space travel, vampires, religious fragmentation, oracles, and seeming magic.

This book really suffered for need of a good editor, in my opinion. A more focused story in both cast and theme would have done wonders for it.

Overall: 3 stars


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