Tachyon, Out now
The interconnected lives of those who populate Central Station, a spaceport in a future Tel Aviv…
If you start Central Station expecting a plot-led tale similar to Tidhar’s most recent published works, you may be in for a surprise. Central Station started life as a series of short stories, and they have been brought together, revised, added to and generally embellished (in the best possible way) for this new “novel”. However, if you start Central Station expecting stories that will appeal to all your senses, with characters who are true to themselves and life itself – and therefore don’t act in a way that fits with a traditional “structure” – set in a place that will feel so real to you by the end that you will swear you can taste and hear it, then you won’t be disappointed in the slightest.
I’ve seen Central Station compared with a soap opera, and there is a certain amount of truth to that, but you never feel as if there’s an artificial boldening of the characters to make them fit into the environment. There are certain plotlines that go through the book; the Conversation – a virtual matrix into which most are connected from birth – is all-pervading; there’s an addictive drug (wonderfully called Crucifixation); characters pop up unexpectedly – all brought together by a unified sense of place.
Both A Man Lies Dreaming and The Violent Century (and to an extent Osama) have felt driven by a passion, and anger at humanity’s foibles. Central Station is something of an antithesis to this, observational rather than judgmental – and it has some of Tidhar’s finest writing.
Verdict: Come to Central Station and allow yourself to be enveloped in its embrace. Recommended. 9/10