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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2017.

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' ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap in to 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.

©2016 Lavie Tidhar (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"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." (NPR)
"Central Station is in every way a literary masterpiece." (The Future Fire)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good story, but I didn't like the reading

I found the story interesting, but what I like the most about it is how human and humane it is. I love what it says about our own society.

Unfortunately, the narration bothered me. a lot. I don't necessarily think that narrators should use accents, but if they do, they should get them write, and the accents here were really off. Why would an Arab man have a Yiddish accent? And why would people whose families have been in Israel for generations sound like immigrants? Even the names of some of the main characters were pronounced completely wrong, and it wouldn't have been hard to get it right if anyone had cared to do so. So I found this performance very disappointing, I'm sorry to say.

I recommend reading the book, instead.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narrator butchers a book

Well, I can't tell you much about the book because after about 15 minutes of listening to the narrator, I had to put it away.

I will be returning it. The narration is TERRIBLE.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Sci-fi Work

Lavie Tidhar’s Sci-fi Novel Central Station is one of the six on the shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the Locus Awards, and only two weeks ago has been awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction of the year.
The composition of Central Station is known as a ‘fix-up’ novel, meaning that several stories that have been published in the past (in this case ranging between 2011-2015) have been brought together along several new added chapters to form one cohesive narrative.
In its essence Central Station is an in-between place, similar to an airport and/or port located between Jewish Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa. We learn that trades and cargo play a huge role in this distant future, even on a spiritual level:

“Cargo came from everywhere. In space, cargo was a religion all by itself. It came from Earth, shipped up to orbit, to the massive habitat called Gateway. It came from Lunar Port, and it came from the Belt, from Ceres and Vesta where the wealth of the Belt poured.”

The location is the core of the novel because it’s the only thing all the characters have in common. In the prologue an author sits down and writes of a civilization in the future imagining and reminiscing of the past (which is still quite distant from us and what we know). The term often used is the “imagined past.” It reminded me of one of those notebooks that certain hotels or locations make you sign every time you visit. It’s as if all these species of ‘people’ from the future (from all over the Solar System) get to sign their names at Central Station and tell their story.

Every chapter focuses on one character and is told from a different perspective, and the same character will re-appear in future stories as a secondary character. What is astounding is that even though all these species of the future are so different they seem to be a lot more tolerant of each other and understanding than humans are now. They look to us and our history the way we look at Cavemen. There are a few characters that dominate the naraative, mainly Miriam (Mama Jones), Boris, Caramel, and Kranky.

What amazes me is that Tidhar managed to create entities so different from us and somehow breathe air into their lungs and humanize them giving them relatable cravings and vices. The story I found most fascinating was that of a creature called “Strigoi” which we follow in chapter five, by name of ‘Caramel.’ Strigois are data vampires and absorb everything one knows. We follow how Caramel herself became a Strigoi and what her feelings were being at Central Station:

“she had never imagined the Conversation as she experienced it just then –the nearness and yet the distance of it, the compressedness of it all. Billions of humans, uncounted billions of digitals and machines, all talking, chattering, sharing at once. Images, text, voice, recordings, all-immersive memcordist media, gamesworlds spill-over—it came on her at once, and she reeled against it.”

When she meets Boris and Miriam at Central Station her parasite-like nature is viewed by Miriam as a disease, something Caramel can’t help similar to the ways we look at depression or anxiety. For Boris, Caramel is a sexualized entity. He is

“aroused by her difference…all the while knowing his own weakness, admitting to his sexual infatuation with her, this human kink that made them lust for Strigoi, for the thing that could harm them.”

To me this story is representative of the whole. Tidhar takes something so distant from us and makes it relatable. As readers we empathize with the non-human and that is the result of great craftsmanship and storytelling. I absolutely love this book and I will read it again soon.

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys science fiction. The reading and performance style of Jeff Harding is brilliant and he compliments the narrative with his voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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why does this sound like a 1950's radio broadcast

I seriously have no idea if this book is any good. they narration is so annoying I cannot focus on the story at all, but what I did catch seemed pretty bad. why does every other sentence end with the crescendo of a 1950's radio broadcast climax. it is simply unbearable and makes it impossible appreciate the story. I sincerely want a refund because there is no possible way I can finish this story, unless possibly you release it with another narrator

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great novel; terrible narration

Any additional comments?

Lavie Tidhar’s novel Central Station is well lauded and applauded in SF circles: shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the Locus Awards, and only two weeks ago has been awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction of the year.

Though there is some legitimacy in the book reading like a series of vignettes due to parts being previously published, the whole does hang together. Readers will come for the inventive world-building and the multi-cultural perspectives. Not many modern SF novels buzz like the eponymous interplanetary hub of the novel's title located between Jewish Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa.

One element that's especially fascinating is the "Conversation": "Billions of humans, uncounted billions of digitals and machines, all talking, chattering, sharing at once. Images, text, voice, recordings, all-immersive memcordist media, gamesworlds spill-over—it came on her at once, and she reeled against it.”

I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys science fiction. The data vampire (Strigoi), the damaged cyborg soldier (Robotnik), and the powerful aliens (the Others) create a rich and engaging tapestry of SF quite unlike anything out there right now.

When I see praise from one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, it gives me pause: "It's all of science fiction distilled into a single book." ―Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Gun Machine. His recommnedation brought me to the book.

So as just a book, to read, I give it high praise; however, I elected to listen to the audio book. The narration by Jeff Harding is atrocious. I rarely write reviews, and when I do, I am unlikely to be so ruthless in my criticism. I feel compelled to warn people away from this narration. Look at other reviews for the audio. Most of them cannot endure the narrator. I am enduring because I trust Ellis, and I am unlikely to move this book to my reading queue, and so audio is my vehicle to consume this book.

As a vocalist, Harding has a nice, bass voice. But he has no clue how to use it. Most sentences or phrases end on an up pitch, and even when he brings the pitch down to "end" a passage, there's still a hint of a rising note to the tone that makes none of the sentences end effectively. His cadences are repetitive and mind-numbing. It's very difficult to extract meaning from the narration given how he has chosen to read. There's no variation to his rhythms at all, either. If I didn't want to read the book so badly, and already stacked up in my traditional, non-audio queue, I might abandon this audio as many other reviewers have.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mostly a collection of vignettes

Lavie Tidhar's Central Station is less a story and more a collection of vignettes about a random group of inhabitants of a space station hub in the what was once Israel. Set far in the future, the solar system has been settled with some degree of ongoing commerce, but for the regular inhabitants of the station area, life is largely the monotony of daily life engaged in mostly mundane activities to stay alive.

While set far into the future, everything seems less thought out and more just a matter having happened without anyone feeling compelled to adjust or refine. There is little to no organizing principles for anything that happens. Online, virtual reality has advanced, but without any more offerings than today. Children are birthed in a lab environment, seemingly in excess with little regard for the overflow. Even vampires have evolved to suck data and memories out of people along with human-cyborg blossoming love. Overall, this has the feel of series of episodes of TV shows attempting to make a Perdido Street Station derivative that seems more relate-able to the average viewer by emphasizing constants of the human condition: family, romance, nostalgia, etc.

Given the local and the ethnic accents of most of the characters, the narrator does a respectable rendition. The tone and pace are well aligned with the overall mood, which is mostly resigned, of the story. There is no climatic finish, merely life going on.

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World Building without purpose

If you are from Israel or the Middle East in general this book might hold nostalgic interest that will carry you through to the end. It is more of a story about a group of loosely related people than a tail of a happening. As such, it did not appeal to me. Your mileage may vary.