The Silver Metal Lover

The Silver Metal Lover

by Tanith Lee

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553581270
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/04/1999
Series: Silver Metal Lover , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 291
Sales rank: 878,017
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Tanith Lee (1947–2015) was a legend in science fiction and fantasy writing. She wrote more than 90 novels and 300 short stories, and was the winner of multiple World Fantasy Awards, a British Fantasy Society Derleth Award, the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Horror.

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!"

"Hallo."

"Oh, Jane."

"Yes?"

"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."

"No."

"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.

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The Silver Metal Lover 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
redheadedfemme on LibraryThing 10 months ago
One of my favorite books ever--the perfect combination of science fiction, masterful writing, and romance. It's too bad Tanith Lee penned a sequel to this, as this is one book that should have been left alone. In fact, I would recommend you not read the sequel, as it rather spoils the effect of this book.
silentq on LibraryThing 10 months ago
An intense young rich woman falls in love with a sophisticated format robot. Blinders come off and she reevaluates what she can do and what she was prevented from doing. A poignant story.
writinggreen on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I love this book. If I had to choose between the first or second book, it would be a no brainer. This one. Silver is ten time more sauve and humanistic than Verlis, and the entire plot line fits together like a huge puzzle. Who cares if you know what's going to happen? You're still shocked in the end.
GregStevens on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I first read this book as part of a course I took in college called "Alien Sex: A review of non-normative sex in mythology, fantasy, and science fiction throughout history." This may have biased my perception of the story. I wrote a paper in which I discussed the parallels between this story and the myth of Narcissus: comparing a hero who falls in love with a mirror and therefore falls in love with himself, and a young girl who falls in love with a robot who is programmed to be exactly what she wants him to be. The story is an exploration of love and free will. How can the robot fulfill his programming to be what she wants, when what she wants is for the robot to want her DESPITE its programming? It is an exploration of desite, attainability, and free will.So maybe it's not surprising that I thought that there was more to this book than just a whiny girl engaged in a teen romance plot-line. Sure, the characters might be a little flat, but to make up for it the world in which they live is detailed and fantastic. This book was first published in 1981, but the future world it portrays is not out-dated at all. And the writing is poetic and beautiful.I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in thinking about the meaning and character of love and attraction, and the ways in which interacting with a computer is like looking in a mirror.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I remember loving this as a teen.. I still love this book--a lot of books I loved back as a young reader don't hold up but this did on reread. And despite being 30 years old, it doesn't feel dated--itself unusual for a work of science fiction. I love Tanith Lee's style, which manages to feel sensuous and lush without ever sounding purple. This work is reminiscent in some ways of her other science fiction works, Bite the Sun and Sapphire Wine. Those are set in the far future and dealt with teens in a fairly loopy dystopia/utopia. In the case of Silver Metal Lover, Earth attracted an asteroid which attached itself in orbit "causing a third of Eastern Europe" to sink and North America to gain "seventy-two Pacific Islands" and kill a third of the world's population. This is a utopia (mostly) if you're very rich, and very much not so (mostly) if you're poor. The hedonistic rich living up in the clouds like Jane's home "Chez Stratos" and the poor in Earthquake-racked slums below among noxious purple-colored rivers. The novel's world-building is organic to the story and well-imagined.Also like those two other novels, this work is told first-person from a female point of view, but this is a very different voice. Jane, the narrator and protagonist, is only sixteen-years-old when the novel begins. This is very much a coming of age tale, although I wouldn't call it "Young Adult" in genre even though it's about a teen, and I loved the book as a teen, since there is very frank sexual content (although no explicit sex scenes.) Jane's a girl that her very imposing mother has cut to a pattern that doesn't fit her. It's a pattern she begins to change when she meets the silver metal lover of the title: Registration Silver. That is S.I.L.V.E.R. Which stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Versimulated Electronic Robot. Jane's friends are also well-drawn here--the overdramatic, self-absorbed actress Egyptia, the sarcastic "mirror-based" (ie gay) friend Clovis, the sly twins Jason and Medea. Interesting that, the very concept of "mirror-based" because I think there's still an open question in the book if that's all Silver was--a mirror that only reflected and let Jane see herself. Jane herself questions the healthiness of her loving a robot, and Silver warns her from the beginning that he's programed to please--and it's clear she wants him to be human and to love her. Even his coloring is suggestive of his mirror-like properties. Yet just as certainly when reading the story the author paints such a poignant portrait of love it's hard not to love them together, and I loved how the author drew the Jane's growing self-confidence and abilities. A friend of mine told me the sequel, Metallic Love, published over 20 years later, isn't nearly as good. A shame--because the original in holding up decades later in my estimation deserves to be called a classic. I have several Tanith Lee books on my bookshelves, this may very well be my favorite. But I don't see her being sold in bookstores these days, and I think that's a shame given the quality of her writing.
thioviolight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sci-fi romance, the story is set in the future, in a new Earth after the Asteroid hit it, and it's about a human girl who falls in love with a Silver robot. Silver is, of course, very beautifully described. An auburn-haired minstrel who strives only to make you happy. Sweet, gentle, sensitive (and a wonderful lover besides) ... anything and everything you want him to be! Ah, what an excellent book!
solanges on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story. I thought the plot and the characterizations were original and well thought out. But I would have loved to get deeper into Jain and Silver's relationship. I feel like that was just glossed over in some places. The ending, while emotional, lacked punch with me, mostly due to my not being able to sit down and read it all at once. I was expecting an ending where someone was happy, but I don't think that was the case.
Treeseed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story takes place on a reconstructed Earth of the future, following the devastations of a meteor hit. People are either ridiculously rich or unemployed impoverished fringe folk who have been displaced by a multitude of robotic workers. I'm not sure how the rich got richer but this is a sort of not too brave new world where babies selected by type are created in test tubes and delivered from artificial wombs to parents kept eternally young by Rejuvinex. Police keep everyone who's rich safe from everyone who's poor by monitoring them electronically. Kind of like the jail bracelet concept in reverse. The 16 year old protagonist, Jane, is a totally sheltered, spoiled rich girl whose growth is stunted by living in the shadow of her rich, arrogant and self-absorbed globe-trotting mother. Their relationship is more like that of French Poodle owner and pup than it is like mother and daughter. Jane's friends, aren't really friends at all since they are also self-absorbed, spoiled, jaded rich kids who use each other as backdrops to their dramas. One of the things I detested the most about this book is the long pages of descriptions about Jane's friends and their vapid, perverse lifestyles. In a word, BORING. The plot is good though it's been done before a gazillion times with the likes of Star Trek's Data and in D.A.R.Y.L. and in Robin Williams' portryal of Milennium Man and many other AI contributions to the sci-fi literary grab-bag. Jane meets this sophisticated robot model that is capable of pretty much any kind of work including the arts and love-making. He looks and feels like a human except for the faint silver tinge to his skin. No problem, lots of human in this world like to paint their skin silver, too. No one can really tell that he's a robot. Jane falls in love with him and has to give up every bit of her rich girl world if she wants to be with him. They discover and uncover each other's humanity but it ends bad for Robo-honey. Never fear, the trite ending is a surprise. Why wasn't I surprised? Jane is 16 years old and maybe this book will appeal to YA readers because it delves into the areas of first love, and finding one's self, personal discovery, loss and independence and all that jazz in a way that is at least, imaginative. I didn't enjoy it. I thought the talented Tanith Lee dropped the ball here with characters, dialogue, credibility...pretty much everything. It should be disassembled like an annoying robot.
Pandababy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps there are others like me, who missed reading this lovely classic, first published a quarter century ago. Then this review is for them.The heroine, sixteen-year-old Jane, comes of age in the book, so I suppose it would be classified as a teen or young adult novel in the Science Fiction genre. It is also a funny and moving romance, a commentary on what it means to be human, and a satire on political expediency.In some future world, where the rich have escaped to mansions in the clouds, and the poor live like New York City poor in the depression years, two unlikely people find love and fulfillment in the slums. Although the plot is about love between a girl and a robot, the novel is not erotic. The crux of the novel is about a young woman asserting her identity. Tanith Lee uses a light but deft touch to show Jane's overbearing mother, and Jane's shallow friends. Lee creates a convincing world, one where Jane's choices make so much sense, that they seem normal and not bizarre at all.I read the novel a month ago, but Lee's poetic descriptions are vivid to me now as I write this. Lee understands how to build empathy for her characters and tension in her scenes. She keeps her part of the writer-reader bargain: she delivers the magnificent climax, the fulfilling ending.Tanith Lee is a prolific writer, and this book, although one of her earliest, is still a favorite among her fans. It reads like a dream, one that I didn't want to end. Don't miss it.(My original review was first published at Forward Motion and on my blog, Pandababy.)
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.