Neom by Lavie Tidhar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! What a gut punch!
This is set in the same zeitgeist as Central Station, of which I absolutely adored for not just its unabashed hard-SF nature, its robots, its deserts, it's Tel Aviv atmosphere and post-dystopian nightmare, and its DEEP, deep worldbuilding.
I can't overstate the last enough. It's RICH.
And Neom is, too. Overflowing with imagination, references to fascinating events and people (mostly robots), and places all over the Solar System.
What is most surprising is how easy it is to fall into. It never overwhelms us. It starts with a friendly smile and a shared rose and a slice of life in the desert in Neom. I was heavily charmed and just loved the ride for what it was. It was all about living. Just living. And that includes all the robots AND humans, trying to make their way in a time that doesn't want either of them.
But later? Oh my god... I didn't see that coming but it was so gorgeous, so heartwrenching. And I should explain that it isn't the normal kind of heartwrenching. It caught me unawares. It blindsided me.
And now, after reading this, I want to go back and re-read Central Station just for the sheer pleasure of it. (Knowledge of it is not necessary, but it does deepen the effect.)
I LOVE this. :)
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