Central Station is a commercial space hub far several hundreds years in the future set between Tel Aviv and Jaffa. It is a rich atmospheric universe of its own, filled with an astonishing motley crew of characters from two families: There is the boy Kranki blending reality and virtuality while playing with his virtual friend, an “alte-zachen-man” who sells discarded things, Carmel the data vampire, Motl the cyborged ex-soldier who falls in forbidden love with the captain of a MMORPG guild Isobel Chong, one Reverend Roboter “Patch-It” from the Robotic Church, old Vladimir Chong suffering from memory cancer, and in the background lurking the Others which are uploaded humans and post-singularity A.I.s connected to humans through the Conversation, just to name a few.
The book mostly collects previously published short stories. What this novel does is a tiny bit of editing plus smoothing out the transitions between stories and adding two unpublished stories. Those finish the central story about the quest of data vampire Carmel and alien-augmented Boris Chong just returning from Mars. The various stories meander around the quest, sometimes diverging far off, adding colour to the richly painted canvas. It is surely not a book steered by plot. The stories follow characters in their everyday life without any form of exposition, often concluding with a open ending leaving me wondering what I’ve just read.
Each individual story would get three stars from me, but the novel is more than just a combination. If you can bear a vivid, gorgeous and exotic setting, with great characters, without action or plot, then I fully recommend this book.
Contents (some links to reviews from previously published sources added):
- The Indignity of Rain • 2012 • First published in Interzone, #240, May/June 2012.
- ★★★ • Under the Eaves • 2012 • review
- ★★★ • The Smell of Orange Groves • 2011 • First published in Clarkesworld, #62, November 2011
- The Lord of Discarded Things • 2012 • First published in Strange Horizons, October 15, 2012.
- ★★★ • Strigoi • 2012 • review
- Filaments • 2013 • First published in Interzone #249, November/December 2013.
- Robotnik • 2012 • First published in Dark Faith: Invocations.
- The Bookseller • 2013 • First published in Interzone, #244, January/February 2013.
- The God Artist • 2016 • Original to this collection.
- The Oracle • 2013 • First published in Analog, September 2013.
- The Core • 2013 • First published in Interzone, #246, May/June 2013.
- ★★★ • Vladimir Chong Chooses to Die • 2014 • review
- Births • 2016 • Original to this collection.