Saturday, May 6, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Long Review after the Jump:

Central Station is a book that apparently started life as a series of short stories released over a few years in a common universe.  This book compiles the short stories and apparently adds a few more to make it a complete novel.  Unfortunately, this book doesn't seem to gain much from putting the stories altogether.

----------------------------------Plot Summary------------------------------
Central Station takes place in a future Tel Aviv/Jaffa, in the shadow of an interplanetary space station that is built there.  This is a world where Humans live amongst robots, cyborg soldiers (who along with robots are no longer being built and are considered obsolete), and AIs called "Others" who have evolved and live inside a cloud, and where every human tends to be connected from birth to the Conversation, that same cloud.  This is also a world where there are many many faiths, new and old, and there's an illicit drug that is meant to create faith, and where there are humans who have been turned into data vampires who feed on the data of humans connected to the Conversation.

Our stories follow in general a few families - the Chong and Jones families, - and the people and beings that have become intertwined with them as they try to live in this new world.  So we have stories featuring Boris and his father, who have a curse that they remember all of the memories of each of their ancestors, up until those memories become cancerous and kill them; Isobel who falls in love with a cyborg ex-military man; Carmel, a data vampire who follows Boris (who is immune to her) home to Central Station and struggles to find her purpose; Kranki, a vat-grown boy with strange and mysterious powers, etc etc.
There are a lot of characters, and each story tends to focus upon a few of them.  Some work pretty well.  Others, not so much.  And there isn't really an overarching plot here.  Kranki's identity and powers are teased to be extremely important and then....well, very little comes out of it for example.

As a result it's hard for me to recommend Central Station.  It's fine - hence the 6 out of 10 - and not something to avoid, but I wouldn't seek it out either.

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