Central Station is an upcoming novel by Lavie Tidhar and this one is hard sci-fi, very hard. Central Station is set in and around the eponymous Central Station, a space port near Tel Aviv, still running after centuries of service, inhabited by humans, robots, robotniks, children created from hacked genes, virtual entities and more.
The novel is a collection of lives at a very vibrant and strange place. A place that very well could be one day exist on earth and the lives described could very well be lived in the future. We meet a single mother, rasing a child that was hacked together from public domain and stolen genes by a former lover of hers. The boy, Kranki, himself is odd and exists both in the offline and online word at the same time, but without agmentation. A family linked together by memories stretching generations because of a modification the patriarch of the familiy made to him and the genes he passed on generations ago. A robot priest and a soldier killed in action, revived as a robotnik (cyborged soldier). Both are by now centuries ol and remember wars that no longer even have names.
Lavie Tidhar gives enormous depth to the world he creates, there are subcultures of various modified humans (as a Cthulhu fanboy I was particularly delighted by the tentacle freaks), the Conversation, which is in short a Solar-System-wide internet with sentient entities existing only in there (like Kranki’s best friend) and which holds strange dangers for many. Almost all of humanity is connected to and in this conversation and everybody is always surrounded by its buzz. Almost everybody is part of a constant flow of information.
The Solar Sytsem has been settled for centuries at this point, there is a trading language, a sort of pidgin, complet with its own poetry, and we get a few glimpses what life amomg the planets and in the asteroid belt is like.
And from the darkness between the planets a vampire of the Conversation descents down into Central Station and connects a few unlikely people and also falls in love with the one human she cannot feed on, because he only exist in Reality One, offline, with no connection to the Conversation.
But there is more, the cultures of the region come into play, new gods appear and vanish but always, life goes on.
Central Station is a fascinating glimpse into a very possible future which creates a lot of craving for a follow up.