Posts Tagged ‘Lavie Tidhar’

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Rehabbing an injury means no ‘simulated fights to the death’ (or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to give it its real name) for me. But, that means more reading and Mash Up somehow happened to be neatly tucked in amongst my son’s toys, waiting to be read.

Daryl Gregory’s Begone is a mash up of ideas and themes that strikes at any family man’s heart. To be replaced, not just divorced, but ousted and superseded by another person playing the role of you in your own family is an awful thought. Tinged with echoes of the TV show Bewitched and painted with the emotional turmoil of a man desperate to reclaim his home, his place in the world and most importantly his daughter, this short story is equally amusing yet provoking. A wonderful blend of the fantastical and the very real.

The Red Menace by Lavie Tidhar is a compact story that reimagines history through the eyes of a man caught up in events of huge importance. Taking its emphasis from Marx and Engle’s The Communist Manifesto, Tidhar’s story is one that traces the line between the bizarre and the wonderful.

The threat of communism means something quite different in this alternative timeline. Teleportation gateways and alien technologies abound, transforming the political landscape of the era. War ensues but one in which Nazi and Allied forces are combined against the Soviet power. Yet, amongst all this it is the personal journey of one man, his choices and losses which says so much, imbuing the story with real heart.

“It was a dark and stormy night” – a line I’ve heard many a time and seen appropriated for many a story. I didn’t know it came from Paul Clifford written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Here, it’s used by Nancy Kress to kick off a tale entitled Writer’s Block, one which flows from the mundane to the murderous and into the realm of the magical in short fashion. A wealthy would-be writer is unable to find his muse. His wife just wants his money and has few qualms about getting it. Enter, stage left, a unique character who bestows a strange gift to the flailing author. A wonderful piece of writing Writer’s Block is thoroughly enjoyable.

Taking the opening line of the bible, Tad Williams’ Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air, is excellent. This is my first time reading Tad Williams but the story reminded me of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams. Ludicrous, fun, humorous yet never cliche or silly. A great little idea brilliantly executed.

There’s definitely a lot more great stories in this anthology. Using the ‘first line’ prompt has clearly produced some inventive work, it’s such a fecund idea. Reading pile and time allowed, I’ll keep this collection handy for a quick fix of awesome.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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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. Life is cheap, and data is cheaper. But at Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive, and even evolve.

Whilst the blurb for Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station reads like a cyberpunk thriller, the book is complex, engaging and full of wonder. It’s a novel of dichotomies, divergences and bifurcations; it’s about life and death, evolution and creation, the virtual and the corporeal, about vast space and local neighbourhoods, and strange, new technologies and ancient, human emotions.

At the heart of the book lies the eponymous Central Station, a huge hub for sub-orbital flights, religion, virtual gaming suites and more. Based in Tel Aviv it is the nucleus around which all manner of cultures and beings revolve, and is the main character around which Lavie Tidhar weaves the various stories. Across generations, Central Station has been home to the Chong family, a sprawling collection of cousins, aunts and siblings, each of whom has been touched by and affected the social and physical space of the station.

Against an awe inspiring background of interplanetary colonisation, the evolution of digital intelligences and strange technologies, is a collection of interweaving and diverging stories about a father losing his mind under the weight of shared memories; a data vampire seeking more than satisfaction for her hunger; a robotic priest contemplating existence; a strange child birthed from hacked digital elements; a returning son and his lost teenage love; the creation of virtual life; the love between a women and an ancient cyborg soldier.

Each tale weaves complexly into the next but each has it’s own trajectory and, though the epic scope of Tidhar’s story is huge, it’s real concern is with the details that make up the human condition. Each is a personal account of thoughts and ideas, relationships and changes. Yet, and importantly, these ideas also intersect with the other major concern in Central Staion; what is consciousness or self or identity. A concept brilliantly handled by the inclusions of virtual networks, digital entities and robot minds.

This is a novel that captures the heart of human experience (in all it’s odd ways) whilst simultaneously building a world full of wonderful and far-reaching ideas. It’s beautiful, considered and complex in equal measure.

Review copy
Published by Tachyon Publications

Following on from my recent revelations via actually reading my emails, I’ve also come across a netgalley haul of awesome titles that I’ve been approved to read – that includes the new short story collection from Joe Abercrombie (fist pump for gritty fantasy).. There’s also some very cool sounding novels from a few writers I’ve not encountered before that I’m eager to read. So, blurbs and covers below and reviews will be forthcoming..

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In this gritty and innovative science-fiction thriller in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, turmoil on one of Saturn’s moons rattles Earth’s most powerful citizens—and draws one planet-hopping rogue into a fight he never saw coming.

Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as a collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else—especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders.

But his latest mission doesn’t afford him that luxury. After a high-profile bombing on Earth, the men who sign Malcolm’s paychecks are clamoring for answers. Before he can object, the corporation teams him up with a strange new partner who’s more interested in statistics than instinct and ships them both off to Titan, the disputed moon where humans have been living for centuries. Their assignment is to hunt down a group of extremists: Titanborn dissidents who will go to any length to free their home from the tyranny of Earth.

Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal.

Amoral protagonist? Off-world terrorism? Fight for survival? Check – I’m in.

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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’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into 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.

Post-human virtuality written by Lavie Tidhar – sounds good to me.

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In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon.

Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself—and his equally ambitious daughter—are the chief suspects.

Meanwhile, two-thousand kilometers away, an amnesiac android, Leonardo Black, rampages across the lunar surface. Programmed with only the notorious “Brass Code”—a compendium of corporate laws that would make Ayn Rand blush—Black has only one goal in mind: to find Purgatory and conquer it.

Hard sci-fi, crime noir, action thriller…another firm yes.

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The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.
Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine . . .

Not much to say other than, I can’t wait to read more First Law world stories..

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Clearly I’m having a short story bonanza at the moment but my recent reading choices have been perfect. Short and sharp is great when you have little spare time but still want for the enjoyment of reading.

Die by Lavie Tidhar fits the bill of short and very sharp effectively. Extremely so. I read it on the recommendation of editor Jonathan Oliver’s introduction and it’s a stunning story. The writing is sparse but all that space allows the imagination to run wild. A twist on Russian Roulette, there is little detail to the whys and where of it all but what is there manages to touch at ideas of cruelty and horror but also the depths of humanity.

Lavie Tidhar has produced a brilliant take on the game motif. I wanted to fill this review with expletives and exclamations and too many punctuation marks; it’s that hard hitting.

The Stranger Cards by Nik Vincent is another inventive take on the idea of game. Her story has the feel of a horror as the creeping, unrelenting truth of the situation crawls into the consciousness of the protagonist. A lawyer sent to meet a death row inmate due to be executed for a series of murders. A child’s game played on an old deck of cards.

For those clever with numbers, patterns are laid out but it becomes clear that the game the serial killer taught the lawyer is oh-so-very-sinister. A fantastic and atmospheric tale that reminded me of that horror writing great Stephen King, Stranger Cards manages a lot in with a little and does it brilliantly.

Review copy
Published by Solaris