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The Silver Metal Lover Mass Market Paperback – May 4, 1999
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The Silver Metal Lover is a classic tale of transforming love. It's a keeper, a book that gets reread 'til it falls apart. Fans petitioned to get it reprinted, and after 10 years of waiting, here it is. Oddly, the book is seldom mentioned when Tanith Lee's work is discussed, perhaps because Lee's usual milieu is horror, and The Silver Metal Lover is a poignant romance requiring at least two hankies before the end.
Robots have replaced human labor on earth, causing massive unemployment in a world devastated by pollution and natural disasters. Then Electronic Metals releases a new line: performing artists and sexual companions designed to entertain human partners. Jane, a rich, lonely, and insecure 16-year-old, meets one, the minstrel Silver, and falls passionately in love, despite revulsion at the idea of preferring a mechanical man to a human. She gives up everything she has known for him, and discovers herself. Silver becomes more and more "human" in loving her--a clever illusion created by his programming. Or is it? This unstable society can't afford any evidence that some robots might be indistinguishable from humans. Tragedy is inevitable. Read it and weep--and don't forget to put it on the keeper shelf. --Nona Vero
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."
"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
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I did find the book dragged at the beginning and the end, and I'm not sure I enjoyed it as thoroughly as some of Lee's other work. I suspect it was aimed at a teen audience.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the story, but I will say that for me, "The Silver Metal Lover" was a story about growing up. We accompany the heroine Jain on a journey from childhood to adulthood. As her confidence develops, her own true self is revealed and she is able to overcome the restrictions placed upon her by her friends and family, and society as well.
I really enjoyed reading the reviews for this novel. It is interesting to see the different impressions that this story left with different people and I think that this is an indicator of how good this book really is.
Characters: I really didn't like any of the characters in the book. Jane was a bit annoying, and seemed really immature, Silver never seemed quite human enough to connect with, and none of the secondary characters had many redeeming qualities. Jane especially annoyed me because she cried all the time, and her whole relationship with Silver was basically based on a 16 year old's impulse. It also bothered me a lot that Jane's mom gave her pills to make her "voluptuous" and when Jane stopped taking the pills she became "slim with a 22 inch waist" and it was implied multiple times that she wasn't pretty until she was really skinny.
Plot: The plot had promise, but I just couldn't get over the fact that Jane decided she loved Silver just from seeing him and hearing him sing once. I couldn't take any part of their relationship seriously because of the fact that Jane couldn't distinguish infatuation/lust from love. I couldn't root for their relationship because I was never really able to convince myself they actually loved each other.
Overall: I really wanted to like this book because I really liked the writing, but there was too much about the plot and the characters that I just really didn't enjoy.