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The Silver Metal Lover

The Silver Metal Lover

4.8 20
by Tanith Lee

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Love is made of more than mere flesh and blood....

Tanith Lee is one of the most thought-provoking and imaginative authors of our time. In this unforgettably poignant novel, Lee has created a classic tale—a beautiful, tragic, erotic, and ultimately triumphant love story of the future.

For sixteen-year-old Jane, life is a mystery she despairs of ever


Love is made of more than mere flesh and blood....

Tanith Lee is one of the most thought-provoking and imaginative authors of our time. In this unforgettably poignant novel, Lee has created a classic tale—a beautiful, tragic, erotic, and ultimately triumphant love story of the future.

For sixteen-year-old Jane, life is a mystery she despairs of ever mastering. She and her friends are the idle, pampered children of the privileged class, living in luxury on an Earth remade by natural disaster. Until Jane's life is changed forever by a chance encounter with a robot minstrel with auburn hair and silver skin, whose songs ignite in her a desperate and inexplicable passion.

Jane is certain that Silver is more than just a machine built to please. And she will give up everything to prove it. So she escapes into the city's violent, decaying slums to embrace a love bordering on madness. Or is it something more? Has Jane glimpsed in Silver something no one else has dared to see—not even the robot or his creators? A love so perfect it must be destroyed, for no human could ever compete?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Silver Metal Lover:

"Deftly written, moving, funny, totally convincing...this is quite simply the best sci-fi romance I've read in ages."
Daily News, New York

"Tanith Lee has another winner in The Silver Metal Lover. It's an aluminum soufflé that's both amusing and touching."
Asimov's Science Fiction

"The strengths of [The Silver Metal Lover] lie in the vivid vision of [Lee's] world—exotic and a little frightening, but quite believable....One of Lee's most fully realized creations."
Publishers Weekly

"Lee continues to distinguish herself with her ability to bring flesh and blood to the worlds of the future. For those who like emotion and feeling in their SF, The Silver Metal Lover is highly recommended."
Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review

Victoria Strauss
The Silver Metal Lover is a feast for the mind and the heart, one of the most purely enjoyable reads I've had in ages.
SF Site

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Egyptia was standing at the foot of the Grand Stairway that leads up to the Theatra Concordacis. She was wearing gilt makeup, and a blue velvet mantle lined with lemon silk, and people were looking at her. A topaz hung in the center of her forehead. She made a wild gesture at me.

"Jane! Jane!"


"Oh, Jane."


"Oh, Jane. Oh, Jane."

"Shall we go up?"

She flung up her arm, and I blushed. She made me feel insignificant, superior and uneasy. As I was analyzing this, I saw someone hurrying over, a man, who grasped Egyptia's raised arm excitedly.

"All right," he said. "Tell me your number."

Egyptia and I stared at him. His eyes were popping.

"Go away," Egyptia said. Her own eyes filled with tears. She couldn't bear the stupid things life did to her.

"No. I can pay. I've never seen anything like it. I heard it was lifelike, but Jesus. You. I'll take you. Just give me your registration number—wait—you don't have one, do you, that's the other type. Okay, it's alphabetical, isn't it? Somebody said it's to do with the metal. You'd be gold, wouldn't you? G.O.L.D.? Am I right?"

Egyptia lifted her eyes to the tall building tops, like Jehane at the stake. Suddenly I knew what was happening.

"You've made a mistake," I said to the man.

"You can't have it," he said. "What do you want it for? Mirror-Biased, are you? Well, you go and find a real girl. Young bit of stuff like you shouldn't have any trouble."

"She isn't," I insisted.

"She? It's an it."

"No." I felt on fire. "She's my friend. She isn't a Sophisticated Format robot."

"Yes it is. They said. Operating on the Grand Stairway."


"Oh, God!" cried Egyptia. Unlike the rest of us, He didn't answer.

"It's all right, Egyptia. Please, please," I said to the man, "she isn't a robot. Go away, or I'll press my code for the police."

I wished at once I hadn't said it. He, like Egyptia and me, was rich, and would have his own code round his neck or on his wrist or built into a button. I felt I'd been very discourteous and rash, but I couldn't think of anything else to do.

"Well," he said. "I'll write to Electronic Metals and complain. A piece of my mind."

(I saw this as some sort of surgical operation, the relevant slice delivered in a box.)

But Egyptia spun to him abruptly. She fixed him with her eyes which matched the topaz, and screeched wordlessly like a mad bird of prey. The man who thought she was a robot backed sideways along the steps. Egyptia seemed to close her soul to us both. She flung her mantle round herself and stalked away up the stairs.

I watched her go, not really wanting to follow. Mother would say I should, in order to observe and be responsible.

It was a beautiful day in autumn, a sort of toasted day. The sides of the buildings were warm, the glass mellow, and the sky was wonderful, very high and far off. I didn't want to think about the man or about Egyptia. I wanted to think about something that was part of the day, and of me. Without warning, I felt a kind of pang, somewhere between my ribs and my spine. It might have been indigestion, but it was like a key turning. It seemed as if I knew something very important, and only had to wait a moment and I would recall what it was. But though I stood there for about five minutes, I didn't, and the feeling faded with a dim, sweet ache. It was like being in love, the moment when, just before the visual ends, I knew I must walk away into the night or morning without him. Awful. Yet marvelous. Marvelous to be able to feel. I put this down because it may have a psychological bearing on what comes next.

I began to imagine Egyptia acting death in the Theatra, and dying. So finally I went up the Grand Stairway.

At the top is a terrace with a fountain. The fountain pours over an arch of glass, and you can stand under the glass with the fountain pouring, and not get wet. Across from the fountain is the scruffy peeling facade of the once splendid Theatra. A ticking clockwork lion was pacing about by the door. I hadn't seen anything quite like it, and wondered if this was the Sophisticated Format. Then something caught my eye.

It was the sun gleaming rich and rare on auburn.

I looked, and bathed my eyes in the color. I know red shouldn't be soothing to the eyes, but it was.

Then I saw what the red was. It was the long hair of a young man who was standing with his back to me, talking to a group of five or six people.

Then he began to sing. The voice was so unexpected. I went hot again, with embarrassment again, because someone was singing at the top of his lungs in a crowded busy place. At the same moment, I was delighted. It was a beautiful voice, like a minstrel's, but futuristic, as if time were playing in a circle inside the notes. If only I could sing, I vaguely thought as I heard him. How wonderful to have such sounds pour effortlessly from your throat.

There were bits of mirror on his jacket, glinting, and I wondered if he was there for an interview, like Egyptia, and warming up outside. Then he stopped singing, and turned around and I thought: Suppose he's ugly? And he went on turning, and I saw his profile and he wasn't ugly. And then, pointing something out to the small gathering about him, he turned fully toward me, not seeing me. He was handsome, and his eyes were like two russet stars. Yes, they were exactly like stars. And his skin seemed only pale, as if there were an actor's makeup on it, and then I saw it was silver—face, throat, the V of chest inside the open-necked shirt, the hands that came from the dripping lace at his cuffs. Silver that flushed into almost natural shadings and colors against the bones, the lips, the nails. But silver. Silver.

It was very silly. I started to cry. It was awful. I didn't know what to do. My mother would have been pleased, as it meant my basic emotions—whatever they were—were being allowed full and free reign. But she'd also have expected me to control myself. And I couldn't.

So I walked under the fountain and stared at it till the tears stopped in envy. And then I was puzzled as to why I'd cried at all.

When I came out, the crowd, about twenty now, was dispersing. They would all have taken his registration, or whatever, but most of them couldn't afford him.

I stood and gazed at him, curious to see if he'd just switch himself off when the crowd went away. But he didn't. He began to stroll up and down. He had a guitar slung over his shoulder I hadn't noticed, and he started to caress melodies out of it. It was crazy.

Then, quite abruptly and inevitably, he registered that someone else was watching after all, and he came toward me.

I was frightened. He was a robot and he seemed just like a man, and he scared me in a way I couldn't explain. I would have run away like a child, but I was too frightened to run.

He came within three feet of me, and he smiled at me. Total coordination. All the muscles, even those of his face. He seemed perfectly human, utterly natural, except he was too beautiful to be either.

"Hallo," he said.

"Are you—" I said.

"Am I?"

"Are you—the—are you a robot?"

"Yes. Registration Silver. That is S.I.L.V.E.R. which stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Verisimulated Electronic Robot. Neat, isn't it?"

"No," I said. "No." Again without warning, I began once more to cry.

His smile faded. He looked concerned, his eyes were like pools of fulvous lead. His reactions were superb. I hated him. I wished he were a box on wheels, or I wished he were human.

"What's the matter?" he said eventually, and very gently, making it much worse. "The idea is for me to amuse you. I seem to be failing. Am I intruding on some sort of personal grief?"

"You horrible thing," I whispered. "How dare you stand there and talk to me?"

The reactions were astounding. His eyes went flat and wicked. He gave me the coldest smile I ever saw, and bowed to me. He really did turn on his heel, and he walked directly away from me.

I wished the concrete would open and swallow me. I truly wished it. I wanted to be ten years old and run home to my mother, who might comfort or lecture me, but who would be omnipotent. Or I wanted to be a hundred and twenty, and wise, and not care.

Anyway, I raced off the terrace, and to Clovis.

Meet the Author

Tanith Lee (1947¿2015) was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of more than 90 novels (including Wolf Tower and The Flat Earth series), 300 short stories (such as "When the Clock Strikes," from the collection Red as Blood), a children's picture book (Animal Castle), and many poems. She also wrote two episodes of the BBC science fiction series Blake's 7. Lee was married to artist and writer John Kaiine.

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The Silver Metal Lover 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Rayha More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was 18 in 1998, and now at 32, I still love this story. It has the prefect blend of, romance, science fiction and fantsy all rolled in one, but it's well developed. I enjoy how through and thought provoking the plot is. This story will make you believe in love, and how powerful an emotion it is.
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Valtinen More than 1 year ago
The writing is clean, neat and vivid. Tanith Lee brilliantly depicts tragedy and comedy alike, using the precision of words without being overly sentimental. Much is to be taken from what she does not say.

Silver Metal Lover is truly a work of art: delicate, sophisticated and thought-provoking. This book will make you laugh and make you cry, and inevitably make you come back for more.

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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Silver Metal Lover is the most beautiful and touching book that I have ever read. I finished it only minutes ago and my cheeks remain stained by a river of tears. This book has such beauty and sadness that you cannot help but laugh and cry. The Silver Metal Lover is the most amazing book that I have ever had the pleasure of reading! The recommend it to anyone and everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i've always thought that any book that can make me laugh and cry is a good one. and when i read this book in one six hour sitting, i stayed up for hours not able to stop thinking about the outcome. i love how articulate the language is in the book, the repartee, and the glimpses we get into jane's stream of consciousness. this book is woven through with pathos. i've read it three times now and every time i turn the last page i just want to start over at the first one again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lee weaved an extremely good tale of love. The constant sacrifice that was exhibited on more than one occasion by the two was what every person in the real world should only hope to find. However, the most important detail of this story is the conclusion. It is often overlooked by readers because they are so entwined with the love story. In the end, Tanith Lee reminds her audience that the best of things are not permanent, but you should enjoy and appreciate them while you have them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
jane views the world as a naive child would but she is woman enough to realize it. love is not wrong but her love was questionable, could we as humans really animate such (supposedly) inanimate objects?? could we as humans all posses such unselfish care about another, wether it be right or wrong?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written through the eyes of a girl approaching womanhood, the style conveys immaturity, questioning, insecurity, and the paradox of the main character: she is rich, spoiled, and privileged with hardly an opinion of her own (and knows it), and is yet exquisitely tender, sympathetic and innocent in an almost brutally liberal world. It moved me, and made me think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hesitated at first to read this book, since generally I don't like love stories, but it hooked me and didn't let me go. Tanith Lee is a gifted author, and her descriptions of the futuristic society as well as the love between Jane and Silver are excellent. The ending smacks of the movie Titanic, but is much better. After all; you know there is only one way it could end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was great. very interesting, its like nothing i've read before and i really enjoyed a change of pace. this story will stick with me for life. at times odd but i found this book overall worth the read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brutally poignant. I love sci-fi, not romance, but this is my one exception to being moved by the latter. When the two genres cross paths, its enough to shatter any misgivings about the title. I had picked this one up when it was first published, and it still has the power to bring the tears and wrench my heart. This story will provoke thoughts of whom you care more for- Jane who pines for the robot or Silver himself, attaining something more than his creators could have imagined.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Generally, I dislike futuristic novels, however Biting The Sun grabbed me...and bit me. I didn't think I could like any sci-fi book better, but this one is outastanding. It went beyond an all-nighter, to an I-Dont-Wanna-Turn-The-Pager, because it was so enjoyable and I was afraid of the outcome. It went so deeply (I loved Jane's realistic neurosis) and had me emotional and almost crying the whole way. Even as I sit here writing this I keep thinking about picking up the book and reading it again, it goes beyond words. OMG read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tanith Lee has done an exceptional job in capturing the true idea of love. It means sacrifice and strength to throw it all away to be with the one person in which you truely love, and at all costs. Both Jane and Silver done this on more than one occasion. It is my favorite book and i take it with me to school, or on a long trip. It helps me to realize all life has to offer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
U know it is the best book I have ever read in my life.I really enjoyed reading this book.when I started reading this kool book,I feel like I'm Jane and as well as I'm living with my lover.I really love this book.My school always have a ''Reading Session'' everyday,So what I do is to take this book with me everyday,even when I'm going out with my family,I often take this book with me.In my life,I have read the whole book.If I read a book,I'll feel boring at the next moment but this book has given me the strength.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to say this book was very interesting. When I first began to read it I thought it had an odd plot. But, when I got further into it I just thought it was plain cool. And, I suppose I'm really empathetic or something but at the end...I cried. It was so sad to me. I just feel sad remembering the ending. Tanith Lee did an EXCELLENT job on this book!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was wonderful and very thought provoking. The ending was sad but I belived it had to come to that out come even if I'm use to the happily-ever after ending.I believe the ending of this book we make the reader appreciate it more.I myself am happy just believing that jane and silver will meet again some how.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great sci-fi romance novel, I just wished that the relationship between Jane and Silver could have been fuller;I had wanted a happier ending!You will just have to read the book yourself and decide what you think. I recommend this book to any fan of romance novels.