19 thoughts on “Central Station – Lavie Tidhar

  1. img_2705

    PROLOGUE
    ONE: THE INDIGNITY OF RAIN
    TWO: UNDER THE EAVES

    “I missed the sort of rain that falls from clouds.”

    The setting and plot-compass seems, so far, to be summrised above on the back cover of this book and no doubt in any digital adverts for this book, so all I’ll say is that the book is a sort of central station itself for a connection between a late dawn of past history/geographical politics and an early dusk, I infer, of a far future like a sort of digital/ moving metal/ flesh-mind (a future now the book’s present), plus a central station’s connections between religion and mind, robot and human, insulation as a once Earth on its own and now of a civilisation into the solar planetary systems, private mind and digital conversation (a Conversation like a ‘cloud’ in that quote above?), textual reality and virtual reality, love and metal, inside Station and outside (cf Reed’s Remoras?)
    A fiction world of nemonymity and self, where fiction is stronger than reality? And another connection…”No one had produced robots for a very long time. They were a missing link, an awkward evolutionary step between human and Other.”
    I am positively entrammelled, and will take this book slowly.
    Texture and feel, so far, a bit like one of my favourite writers, Salman Rushdie. Don’t rush to die…

  2. I intend there to be no plot spoilers in this long-term review.

    THREE: THE SMELL OF ORANGE GROVES

    Pages 34 – 38

    “And they needed their buffer, that in-between-zone that was Central Station, old South Tel Aviv, a poor place, a vibrant place — most of all, a liminal place.”

    A buffer, and an “art installation”? I wonder as I travel back with Boris Chong’s ‘memory-scent’, gaining the genius loci of this place, and (like Johnson, a Russian spy today whose ‘Conversation’ enabled Brexit?) why he is called Boris…
    The politics and today’s history seep for me into this wondrous text of the future, as we explore, through Boris, the Jaffa part of the installation…

    [I read a lot of SF in 70s and 80s, but not a lot more till in the last few years I started reviewing the fiction in every issue of INTERZONE and latterly a whole real time review (!) of VanderMeers’ THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION (at those links) plus some other SF publications. These are my shaky SF credentials.]

  3. Pages 39 – 52

    “Humans lived longer now, but the mind grew old just the same,…”

    …this being a resonance with our lot today, while empathising with something stronger than mere empathy itself, the sense of the Conversation and the I-loop, the aug on the neck or a golden thumb as hyper-‘on-line’ Others, feeding into us a sort of immortality (like these my looped labyrinths of connected gestalt real-time reviews of hyper-literature?) or a reincarnation-by-genealogical-memory? I am now reminded of Lawrence Durrell and his ancient Alexandrian Quartet by style and early premonition of rarefied multi-Othered substance in this Tidhar. And its cosmopolitan, non-alien, future inter-religious genius loci with political and religious tentacles back to our own troublous times, and perhaps not so far forward as my earlier expression of ‘far’ future portended. A literary time-compact Oracle.
    I do not think it’s accidental that the text here embeds the words: “…like an explorer in an unknown land, feeling his way by touch and instinct.”
    It is a strange fascinating world we are visiting, paradoxically accessible and inaccessible at the same time. A sort of intertextual, interpersonal, multi-nemonymous ablution by Lavie?

  4. FOUR: THE LORD OF DISCARDED THINGS

    “Adaptoplant neighbourhoods, seasonal, unstable, sprouting walls and doors and windows, half-open sewers hanging in the air, exposed bamboo plants, apartments growing over and into each other, growing without order or sense,…”

    In many ways this text is not so much such an Adaptoplant neighbourhood in itself, but sometimes it feels that way in spite – or because? – of the Durrell and Rushdie comparisons I made earlier, but it’s more something that makes you into an Adaptoplant Neighbourhood as part of the the reading brain inside the skull.
    Here new characters, Ibrahim as this chapter’s eponymous character, finding a baby boy amongst the discarded things, that boy’s later connection and meeting with the boy from earlier in the book, some sort of collaborative messiah (?) with the oblique hinterland of Jaffa oranges, the Holocaust as we knew it as a keynote word now as a denial with six million ghosts, and other tentacles of past religious history of messiah &c. &c. – each with its own Other and the ‘crazy angles’ of Conversation – and “consensus illusion.”
    This real-time review has already become this book’s own Other, a Chiang-like retrocausality as consensus clinching gestalt? Or vice versa? I have no presumption as to which has more effect on the other, this review or the book it’s reviewing. More of a belated Adaptoplant synergy, I guess?

  5. FIVE: STRIGOI

    “In space, cargo was a religion all by itself.”

    I feel I am a sort of cargo cult myself, awash in this staggering imaginarium that my Adaptobrain makes real, now ubicking in all directions, clouded and mist-mashed, but I am following it, as well as being followed – learning more about Boris and the more I learn the more I think he is Boris Chongson – and his past relationship with a Strigoi – now meeting up again at Central Station via their backstory – this long enthralling chapter not so much a data dump but a crystallisation and a bringing back together characters in tune with the brief summary of the plot I found on the back cover of this old-fashioned paperback with rough-to-the-touch pages in contradistinction to the onoff lines of these data vampires but more in keeping with the hanging sewers when we once read realbooks in base terraced houses, as some of us still do now, being taken out of ourselves by reading SF, particularly this hyper-hyper-hyper SF, where I sense the only pure alien is a human being.
    “data moving at the speed of light, so slowly . . .”

  6. SIX: FILAMENTS

    “Blong stap o no blong stap
    Hemi wan gudfala kwesjen ia”

    A short burst of Pidgin reminds me that this novel – in a good way – is exponentially reminding me of my real-time review of ‘Finnegans Wake’….and it is another truly staggering chapter, this one exploring the connection between religion and the book’s concept of digital Otherness – and between that and metal as a sort of spiritual cyborging …….”Crucifixation” and Circumcision, the latter making me wonder what the procedure would entail if the member is metal, or what that concept might lead to with abuse if the bit of the body being abused is metal. That connection and the amalgamation of all faiths as we understand them today, that amalgamation now being the essence of Central Station itself, both the book with that eponymity as its title and the Station itself near Tel Aviv and Jaffa, a genius loci that the book has created within it.
    The characters and plot continue to develop, too, as they do in Joyce.
    “A group of disgruntled house appliances watched the sermon…” cf Lock’s ‘The Cone Zero Ultimatum’ in CONE ZERO (Nemonymous āˆž)
    “But it was not easy becoming a Jew. It was a faith that discouraged strangers.”
    “Love made humans shine, as though they were metal filaments heated by electrical current.”
    “Our maker who art in the zero point field, hallowed be thy nine billion names…”

  7. Yes, I read Lavie’s Central Station recently too and thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes again, the networking of sentient beings and especially of the AIs struck a chord in me and brought back memories of Arnold Washinator, the self-aware washing machine šŸ™‚
    The Cone Zero Ultimatum still remains one of the most favourite things I’ve ever written.
    Read ‘Central Station’ it’s certainly worth it.

  8. SEVEN: ROBOTNIK
    EIGHT: THE BOOKSELLER (up to page 143)

    “Backwash, hitting him: memories that shouldn’t be, of times that never were.”

    …and a similar ungraspable feeling of backwash that I might have read some of this book’s text already, as the characters and their characteristics of place and self gradually form a gestalt in my real-time ageing mind – a similar experience, it seems, is that of together ageing and gestalting / gestating books like this one!
    I am like the collector of books (paperbacks like this Central Station one that I described earlier above) – ancient books (supplied by the earlier Discard man) that are now valuable as rare antiques, smelling of my piss and other bodily wafture ( Craphound et al). His meeting with the Strigoi, seems obliquely apt the day that Rabbi Lionel Blue dies in real-time today. RIP. I listened to him often. Discarded bust of Albert Einstein, notwithstanding.
    “… the works of poet and science fiction writer Lior Tirosh.”
    The bookseller and the Strigoi. Motl the robotnik and his love for a real girl. The accoutrements of my thoughts earlier as to the sexuality of cyborgs…

    “Life was half-completed plots abandoned, heroes dying halfway along their quests, loves requited and un-,”

  9. Pages 143 – 163

    “It is, perhaps, the prerogative of every man and woman to imagine, and thus force a shape, a meaning, onto that wild and meandering narrative of their lives, by choosing genre.”

    And this book has already but here, with great acceleration, taken off with that prerogative of hyper-Imagination or High Weird, bordering upon some essential truth closer than any other version of articulate ratiocination. I also know what it means to be “drunk on data”, as this book puts it. To have its “secret purpose.”
    To have books that fill the “holes” of the Conversation. To fear but love the “empty labels” (this author’s interview with me in 2003 about Nemonymous etc here.)
    We are now gaining more knowledge, too, of the interaction between this book’s characters, for example the nature of the two boys I called a ‘dual messiah’ at the beginning of this review. The nature of the Strigoi (or Nosferatu from the books) and possibly about what reason and how she had been let into this world of Central Station, her romantic force as a lover? Her “I am not a weapon” on this very moment of real-time (yesterday) someone used a lorry as one in Berlin.

    “But we do turn off. Shut-eye.”

  10. Pingback: The Central Station of the Cross-Genre | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  11. NINE: THE GOD ARTIST

    “running in real-time”

    I feel I am the god of this book, at least for the extent of this chapter’s quilt. But then like the old artist who created the god, as Boris arguably created children without being a parent? In many ways there is a growing Gestalt here of the nature of some of these characters and their interactions, unclear again with drugs and a new area called ‘gamesworld’, the text fitting well with different types of electronic music, as I have tried this morning. I feel I am on a roll as a Dreamcatcher, been given this chance to be a book’s god for real.
    So many quotes I pencilled to quote as remarkably expressed or enlightening passages that I have decided not to quote any of them except the one above. Gods are like that. Oh, but there is this one quoted from the rough paper page:

    “‘Gods are born, and die,’ the old artist said;”

    My wife’s latest quilt (mind-spatial created from crude material):
    img_2626

  12. TEN: THE ORACLE

    “New faiths rose and fell like breath.”

    Whether Conch or Cohen, I seriously think the only way to understand this book is not to understand it. I extrapolate, in its own terrms, that it has been written by a committee of writers stretching through future and past, using the composite name on the spine, the ultimate nemonymous parthenogenesis of late labelling. If any reviewer of this book tries to explain the plot to you or seems to confidently describe, interpret and evaluate it, then you must smell a rat, sense an Other in this chapter which makes a fist of explaining the differences between Others and what we think we know today as Artificial Intelligence. But such a fist needs to contain a golden thumb!
    This book is the future of SF, not the other way round.
    Not a committee of writers, then, but an eventual Gestalt of all its readers? Only ‘A Third Alive’ as a Zeno’s Paradox so far. Till full, then understanding is not possible.
    I note the author was talking to me about Gestalts in 2003: http://web.archive.org/web/20050221035642/http:/www.dusksite.ukgo.com/print.php?content.49

  13. ELEVEN: THE CORE

    “…a paperback much worn and stained with age.”

    But, meanwhile, this chapter is the book’s wonderful and never-to-be-forgotten epiphany, I guess (the remaining two chapters being its combined coda remain to be seen and read.)
    This epiphany is experienced by Achimwene (the erstwhile discard man), one without a node, stalking the Strigoi as a lover, out of the loop of this book’s version of something we saw in the early real-time days today as our involvemeant with social media (in the BBC news today about lurking on FB as a source of unhappiness)? Out of this book’s Conversation. Now within Central Station, its elevators and itself accretive beings of Conversation? And the halfway children tapped into significantly more than just the Conversation….

    “He was the hero of his own story.”

  14. TWELVE: VLADIMIR CHONG CHOOSES TO DIE

    “Boris when he was five and his node infected by a hostile malware virus with rudimentary intelligence.”

    Meanwhile, this is another moving chapter, indeed another pre-coda, to be clinched by the final Chiang-like hindsight Gestalt of the presumed coda proper (still to follow and be read.)
    This chapter deals with an eschatology that exists in this world despite that nodal world’s consciousnesses beyond the consciousness. A potential blend of Cyborging and Cryology? Even euthanasia at euthanasia park leads to an embrace by gravity, I assume, that continues some form of consciousness? A sort of real-time Alzheimer’s as I even feel it encroaching today: a wistful carelessness and acceptance of real-times-a-changing – for the worse or better? This chapter is miraculously part and parcel of my own consciousness of death and laid-backness at dodgier health at the age of 69: not old, I know, but old enough.

    “– how quickly and startlingly the landscape changed in so small a place. It was no wonder the Jews and the Arabs had fought over it for so long.”

  15. THIRTEEN: BIRTHS

    “‘I left before he was born.’
    ‘I know that, Boris!'”

    A telling coda in the light of the vision of tapping children and the concepts of death in the two pre-codas. Also an I-Loop of this paper book itself from beginning to end and back to beginning again.
    And in view of something I said about Boris earlier in this review, his workaday occupation is not surprising, but in fact inevitable, judging by even today’s variegating real-time methods of human birth. In a nodal world of robotic machines, virtual reality, Gestalt Jungian codes and data, space travel, Otherness, what could we otherwise have envisaged beyond that?
    I shall just grab on one element – virtual reality – in the above list. This book, despite its paper and its non-visual, non-illuminated real-time words of today, somehow becomes a miracle of tomorrow’s nodal virtual-reality in itself.

    “The traditional words.”

    end

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