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Silver Metal Lover #1

The Silver Metal Lover

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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, sensual, and ultimately triumphant love story of the future.

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

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?

291 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1981

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About the author

Tanith Lee

647 books1,662 followers
Tanith Lee was a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She was the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She also wrote four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a waitress.

Her first short story, "Eustace," was published in 1968, and her first novel (for children) The Dragon Hoard was published in 1971.

Her career took off in 1975 with the acceptance by Daw Books USA of her adult fantasy epic The Birthgrave for publication as a mass-market paperback, and Lee has since maintained a prolific output in popular genre writing.

Lee twice won the World Fantasy Award: once in 1983 for best short fiction for “The Gorgon” and again in 1984 for best short fiction for “Elle Est Trois (La Mort).” She has been a Guest of Honour at numerous science fiction and fantasy conventions including the Boskone XVIII in Boston, USA in 1981, the 1984 World Fantasy Convention in Ottawa, Canada, and Orbital 2008 the British National Science Fiction convention (Eastercon) held in London, England in March 2008. In 2009 she was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Master of Horror.

Lee was the daughter of two ballroom dancers, Bernard and Hylda Lee. Despite a persistent rumour, she was not the daughter of the actor Bernard Lee who played "M" in the James Bond series of films of the 1960s.

Tanith Lee married author and artist John Kaiine in 1992.

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5 stars
1,571 (40%)
4 stars
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3 stars
753 (19%)
2 stars
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83 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 389 reviews
May 11, 2016
"Mother, I am in love with a robot."

Excuse me while I sploosh everywhere. And then worry about the sploosh tarnishing the robot's gears and machinery.

This is the story of Jane, a sixteen year old sheltered, pampered and wishy-washy young woman, who falls in love with a robot called Silver. Silver, however, is not a normal robot. He has been designed to be better than human in every way and is so lifelike that Jane never sees him as anything other than a human man, except when she is at her most vicious.

This love story is heartbreaking. This story is told through the eyes of Jane, so we see Silver purely through her eyes and experience him through her, and what an experience it is. He has some amazing , swoon worthy lines. Dude's got so much game. And he isn't even human. Would bang.
Get in the dungeon.

Jane's progression as the story develops is particularly well done. The start of this story is terribly melancholy and Jane is not likable in the slightest. But as she falls further and further in love and learns to live her own life away from the constraints of her family and so-called friends, she really blossoms and becomes a better person.

Her friends and family are all selfish assholes and giant pieces of shit. I want them all to die. They are a horrid group of people and they deserve nothing short of the fires of hell for eternity. But Jane's naivete and willingness to forgive even the most horrible of trespasses, is actually pretty awe inspiring.

This was a wonderful story. It took a while to get going, for me, but about a hundred pages in everything started to click and I couldn't put it down. I even hid in the change rooms at work so I could read the final few chapters, in tears.

I do have to say, for a while there I thought there was going to be a twist where it is revealed that but alas, that was not to be.

This is a story about love in all it's forms. It showcases the way love can help you become the best version of yourself, and how it can bring out the worst in others, too.

I truly had no idea what to expect going into this book. But I'm so glad with what I found. A wonderful story full of character progression, love, trials, tribulations, heartbreak, hopelessness and forgiveness.

I look forward to reading the second one, as soon as it arrives in the mail. Tanith Lee is a word wizard and I hope to read much more of her work in the future.

"Jane, Jane, a pane of crystal, the sound of rain falling on the silken grain of marble, a slender, pale chain of a name."

4 silver-nail-through-the-heart Stars

Thanks for putting this book on my radar and buddy reading with me Heather and Karly!
Profile Image for Kat.
940 reviews
January 7, 2018
BOOOO to me for not having read this young adult page turner during my teens.

Well, falling in love with a robot isn't that odd. Considering that we fall in love over the Internet en masse, without having ever seen, smelled and touched the other. So lusting after a robot - especially when you're a sweet sixteen and the robot in question is Silver, a handsome fully equipped long haired brand new prototype, programmed to pleasure its buyer - seems pretty easy.

So could we someday develop robots that are able to trick us into believing they are human? Could they replace us? And should we allow for that to happen? The Silver Metal Lover gives a peek into a time technologically far ahead of us, but doesn't answer these questions. It may leave you pondering a bit about what it means to be human, but mostly The Silver Metal Lover 'just' reads as an excellent young adult romance, focusing on the coming of age of rich kid and cry baby Jane.

When she throws herself into the arms of Silver, she realizes that she probably shouldn't tell her controlling mom, who views her daughters upbringing as a pedagogically sound project. Thanks to Silver, she is able to burn her ships behind her (and had me whispering "you go girl!" and rooting for her while she did).

I especially liked how I perceived Silver through Jane. Her infatuation must've blurred her vision to some extent, which left me wondering what was real and what wishful thinking. When she assigned human qualities to him, was her imagination running wild? OR was her piece of metal possibly more than a masterly designed illusion? Therefore the part in which Silver actually climaxes, felt oddly out of place due to its lack of subtlety. Same with the second ouija board session (won't mention the details because of spoilers), which somewhat ruined the semi-tragic ending for me. I guess what bugged me is that Lee started with a robot and a young girls' apparant 'perverse' relationship with it, only to weaken this interesting concept by suggesting that he was very human after all.
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 51 books11.7k followers
August 12, 2015
Oh God, I don't know how to talk about this really. It kind of combines all my obsessions into one amazing book: sex, robots, love, identity and philosophical questions about what makes us human. It's not ... perfect, and it's probably the sort of thing you have to read at the right time.

But, dammit, it's still my book of books.

So, Jane the heroine lives in a decadent future where the rich are super rich and the poor are super poor, and the rich have everything, and suffer from ennui.

And there are sex robots.

Jane becomes obsessed with one of them--a beautiful, silver-skinned, auburn hair man called Silver--and they end up running away together to the slums and forging a new life for themselves.

It's told in first person from Jane's POV and, fair warning, she is passive and weepy and entitled and lost for maybe half the book. She's not exactly sympathetic during this section and may, in fact, induce an urge to shake her ... but she grows a lot and part of the pleasure of the book is witnessing that growth. Seeing Jane become her own person, not just her mother's accessory.

The other thing the POV permits is wonderfully unreliable narration, especially as regards Silver and his potential for human-ness. We see him through Jane's eyes and she loves him, and there is no narration more unreliable than that.

This is a love story, and it's really romantic (if you're into robots - which I am) but ... again ... don't expect a traditional HEA.

The ending is, in fact, the weakest part of this otherwise flawless book. It kind of wants to have its tragedy cake and eat it - and insists on answering the intriguing ambiguities within the questions it raises with cheap and tone-inappropriate spiritualism.

But this is still one of my favourite books ever. Because I'm basically a total sap.
Profile Image for Heather ~*dread mushrooms*~.
Author 19 books488 followers
July 9, 2016
Buddy read with Karly AND J-Rex sometime in 2016 I think?

I found this DAW edition with a bad/awesome cover at a used bookstore today.

I still like the Kinuko Craft cover best (even though Karly hates it). This was the cover I had the first time I read the book. Honestly I probably love it because of that muscular, metallic neck. SEXY. :P


What prompted this buddy read was another BR last November, of The Mad Scientist's Daughter. Karly enjoyed it (click for her review), and I really did not. In my review I mentioned how much better The Silver Metal Lover was, so we decided we'd read it and prove me right/wrong. Then we enlisted Dino-Jess and it was glorious!

"We have three locomotive robots, dear. Not to mention all the other robotic gadgets." "But he's a personal robot, Mother." "What does he do that the others can't?" Well...

So, yes, obviously I really, really like this book. Love it, even. How else do you explain why, reading this, I was trying not to break down in a McDonald's while my girls played? And later, trying not to break down at the park with other people and their children around me? I know I probably looked insane as the tears welled up in my eyes and my mouth went all funny. (Plus I'm the only parent who ever reads a book while the kids play instead of following them around the play structure.)

Tanith Lee has a gift. One minute you're reading and everything is fine and then BAM! Emotional destruction.

One of the great things about this book is Jane's transformation. She starts the story as a timid, inexperienced rich girl. You might think you'll hate her based on that description, especially since for a chapter or two she doesn't really do anything. But then she does do something—she seizes exactly what she wants by any means she can—and by the end she's smarter and wiser.

"Jane," he said. "Jane, a pane of crystal, the sound of rain falling on the silken grain of marble, a slender, pale chain of a name."

This story is sexy without having explicit sex and moving without feeling manipulative. Unlike in The Mad Scientist's Daughter, we see the prejudice against robots, but also the desire they inspire. We see the characters' emotions, even Silver. What's more romantic than running away to be poor, but together, and working together to survive despite all odds? I rooted for Jane (Jain) and Silver. I wanted to hear the songs they sang.

He sang. The robot sang. He sang into my veins where my blood had been and where instead the notes and throbbing of the guitar now flowed. I could feel his song vibrating in my throat, as if I sang it too.

Profile Image for L.S. Popovich.
Author 2 books342 followers
March 1, 2022
The second book by Tanith Lee I read within a couple days. I listened to this on a long drive. It was enjoyable all the way through. Similar to Heinlein's Rolling Stones, or Have Spacesuit-Will Travel in the sense that they were all pulp science fiction reminiscent of the Golden Age of the genre, light-hearted, and mostly about social interaction. TL's cheesy romance works well with the soft s-f world building. She brings a heavy, warm sensuality to this story of a 16-year-old girl falling in love with a robot - Think Lars and the Real Girl, but reversed. You grow to love Silver, her multi-talented android (and what a bedside manner!) but you will probably sympathize with Jane, the plucky protagonist because of her all-too-human desires and frustrations. But what will probably immerse and captivate you most is the author's beautiful imagery, distinct voice, charming humor, and well-rounded side characters. In the end, it is a classic tale of a young, fool-hardy, but passionate woman choosing love over her life of luxury, of venturing out into the world to discover herself, forsaking society's expectations, growing to know herself and her unconventional, but effective, lover. A suggestive and enjoyable romp, but pure pulp. I am glad to discover a new side to Tanith Lee's writing and greatly look forward to exploring her other works.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,364 reviews225 followers
July 2, 2021
Вечният мотив за Ромео и Жулиета, но в епохата на роботиката и изкуствения интелект, където последната непревзета от машините крепост е творческият процес. Но може би и тази последна твърдина е паднала…

Това не е Азимов. По-скоро е ранн��, камерна версия на сериала “Westworld”. Тук има отглас от меч и магия, в една дълбоко интимна и трогателна история, която няма да е за всеки вкус и в никакъв случай не е класическа фантастика. Танит Ли е просто брилянтна.

💔 “I'm not very good at being alive.”

🎸 “…it was so useful to lie with the truth…”
Profile Image for Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*.
999 reviews168 followers
January 3, 2012
This book is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I've never read anything like it. It chronicles the life of Jane, a vapid rich girl who lives in the future and doesn't really know what it is to feel anything, or how to experiance life. All that changes when she meets and falls in love with Silver, a robot programed to sing and play music. Eventually she leaves her rich lifestyle to run away with Silver to the slums to try and carve a new life for themselves. I loved this story for so many reasons. First of all, Janes transformation throughout the book is simply astounding. She goes from being very shallow, confused, and timid, to a girl who knows who she is and what she wants. She stands up for herself and what she believes in, and begins making her own decisions and living her own life. And love is the power that transforms her. Reading this really put some things in perspective for me, namely how love can really bring the best (and worst) out of a person. Secondly, from an aesthetic point of view, Tanith Lee's writing is gorgeous. The slums are beautiful, despite the destitude of the people living there, and every other backdrop in the book just drips with amazingly vivid descriptions. This is my first book by this author, but it certainly not the last I will be reading. Lastly, the idea of Jane and Silver's love enduring for all time is really just...beautiful. As corny as that sounds I literally spent a good part of the last few chapters crying my eyes out, because really it was just so emotional and heartrending. What a fantastic book!

"I love you. I'll see you again. Don't ever be afraid."
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,682 reviews345 followers
May 13, 2023
Classic early SF by the Fantasy mistress. Wish she'd written more SF. Wonder if I still have a copy?

Martha Wells mentions this as an influence on her "Murderbot" series:
"The Silver Metal Lover was one of the first books I remember where it was actually about a human-robot relationship, where that was focus of the story. It’s a romance between a young woman and a robot and it never gets into the usual “kill all humans and take over the world” territory."

Gee, I didn't recall the cover art being so *ugly*. Don Maitz! What was he thinking?
ISFDB: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?2...
Note that there are many other editions. All have better-looking cover art than that hideous Maitz! You need to be logged in to ISFDB to see them.

Re-read started 5/13/23. This is the SFBC 1982 hc, with OK cover art by Rob Sauber. Her BF (RF?) doesn't look very, well, metallic . . .
Profile Image for  Simply Sam ツ.
601 reviews78 followers
July 28, 2016
My love, my love. I will see you again.

I happened to be off work today and this BR read started today so.....yeah I finished it today.

I'm not very good at being alive.

Now, I must admit, initially I wasn't sure about this story. Our protagonist, Jane, just seemed too vapid and inane to care about. She was 16 but incredibly immature and sheltered. Her quote unquote "friends" were a group of shallow, self absorbed narcissists, and don't even get me started on the mother. The mother, who ordered Jane from a catalog and kept her programmed to her liking, from her body shape to her hair color to her talents. Her mother kept her like a doll, a plaything for her to control and manipulate.

But I knew that this would be a coming of age story, that through the events of the story that Jane would evolve to something more so I continued on in that vein.

And the vehicle for this transformation from a vacuous teenager into a young woman of substance you might ask?


There's a kind of beam, a ray that he draws to him. He draws all the energy of the crowd, and contains it within him, and then focuses it out again upon them. A ray like a star, a sun.

Silver is essentially the only robot of his kind. He is built to be a minstrel, a companion, a lover. After a chance encounter, Jane cannot get this silver man, robot, being out of her head. She has no idea why he affects her so and it both terrifies and enthralls her. She only knows that she needs to be near him, that she needs to have him. So she uses whatever means in her power to make him hers, even when it means leaving her life of leisure and privilege for a life in the slums.

Goodbye, my childhood, my roots, my yesterdays. Goodbye, Jane.

Who are you now?

It's there, in the tiny, run down apartment she lets that both Silver and Jane learn what it means to be human, what it means to be alive.

This book was weird and wonderful and just caused a jumble of mixed feelings in me. I thought it had the potential to be amazing, but there was something lacking that just kept it from that greatness. Again, I think it's just a matter of me not totally connecting with the characters. They felt too effervescent, too ethereal, just too everything if that makes sense. But the story of Jane and Silver? It's one that will stay with me for years to come.

"I hate your cheerfulness. When you leave me, there's nothing."

"There's all the world," he said.

BR with Shelly and all other interested MacHalo deviants.

Profile Image for Raymond Elmo.
Author 15 books147 followers
September 28, 2018
I'm tempted to say that this is one of Lee's deepest books. Why? It seems just another YA tale of a teen angst-driven by first love, rebellion, and the adolescent desire to establish an identity. But 'coming of age' is a crapulous label for story-telling. We are all coming of age, all our lives. And a good character shows this. As for giving first love a patronizing pat on the head... there is a reason stories associate first-love with death. Because it is a kind of death. What survives after, is a ghost at worst, a heart reborn at best.

So: Silver Metal Lover is a book where the girl wonders what color her hair would be if she didn't take her mother's pills; what shape would her bod take. She wonders whether her friends are enemies, and if she could exist on her own, and if robots have souls. For that matter she wonders if flesh-and-blood girls have souls. By 'souls' we can just say identity. Are people real? Or just things programmed to say our names when asked?

Bah; overmuch philosophy. This is a haunting love-story, a sci-fi adventure, and the reading of a sensitive soul's diary. Read it with respect.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,063 reviews1,474 followers
September 5, 2018
I read little sci-fi, and next to none before picking this book up, but this is by far one of the best I have read.

I want to continue on and give this book a rave review to encourage you to pick this up but, honestly, I'm still salty that I lent it to a friend and she then lost it without ever reading it. Bitter af.
Profile Image for Lizz.
235 reviews57 followers
July 1, 2023
I don’t write reviews.

“I’m not very good at being alive. Sometimes I despair of ever mastering it, getting it right. When I’m old perhaps. When I’m thirty.”

Dear mom, I fell in love with a robot. It’s not my fault! He was so clever and charming, far more three-dimensional than many men I’ve known, many people. No, I don’t love the robot, I love Tanith’s mind. And she set me up for grief. I cried unashamedly. But damn if it wasn’t all so beautifully done.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
381 reviews31 followers
September 21, 2015
Honestly I haven't read this book since I was 16. I will be 45 soon. Isn't it funny what stays with you. This is a story that has always lingered. Always one I have meant to reread. I can't tell you the details, I can't remember if it made me happy, sad, I am not sure. But the feeling of this story has been there for me. And I know I just said that I don't know how it made me feel, but I have thought of this often. And in honor of the authors passing I decided to write this review. I don't know if you would like it, appreciate it, I am not sure if at 45 I will like it, but all I have is that I have remembered this book. Something stayed and that is powerful.

Re-read September 2015

So, I loved it. This time I picked up that the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. I picked up more on the culture of the world and the relationships. It is more than a love story. Yes it is a story told through the eyes of a young girl, but maybe the young girl in me remembers all the pain and heartache and angst. I also appreciate more the story regarding Artificial Intelligence and what make us human. I am making this one of go to re-read books. I am sorry it took so long for me to revisit the story.
April 13, 2016
Last year during Spooktober the lovely Heatherdoll and I read The Mad Scientist's Daughter and while I found it a beautiful tale ensconced in the insidious nature of humanity’s prejudices against anything different than themselves, she was less impressed (read her review here) owing to the fact that The Silver Metal Lover had done this same story, and better.

Thus a buddy-read of same was born. Along the way we ensnared Future-Gurl in our webs. Thank you both for reading this at the same, relatively speaking, time as I.

I think this is a case of whomever gets there first gets the prize. The old early-bird-gets-the-worm mentality:

For Heather the bird depicted above was Tanith Lee, for me it was Cassandra Rose Clarke. Personally I’d rather be the sun having the cup of coffee, although why I would be brushing my teeth simultaneously….. ooops, there I go getting distracted again.

What I mean by this is that comparability isn’t always in a writer’s favour. Certainly you can see by both my ratings that I enjoyed BOTH versions, however I liked them for completely different reasons.

Future-Gurl, as far as I’m concerned you can lock Silver up in your man dungeon and throw away the key, I am 100% Team Finn.

Lee is a wonderful writer, there is no way for me to deny that. I found this story’s swooping, bombing pseudo-autobiography nature extremely well done. The chapter movements and header poems were exceptional. I thoroughly enjoyed the way we saw Silver through the evolving eyes of our main character, Jane, as she learned that her life perhaps wasn’t as rose-coloured as it may have appeared.

Jane has been sheltered (and exposed) by her mother and her friends her whole life. All of the characters surrounding her, saving for Silver, are vultures of her innocence and compassion. When she comes across an amazingly human looking and behaving robot outside of a theatre she has a startling reaction to him. This reaction sets in motion a story of unorthodox love that is beautiful, intense and quietly shattering. However, Jane is sixteen years old and this entire love story takes place at that tender emotional age of discovery and thirst for knowledge. And while that is incredibly powerful, it also distancing.

This is one of the places that I thought Clarke did it better, the main character in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter had a loving, if extremely bizarre, father and I thought the addition of HUMAN characters that were not entirely poisonous lent an authenticity to her love of Finn. It is not a case of a robot being the only “person” to ever show her selflessness, honour or compassion. I found it more powerful in this way. Incidentally I also liked the spread of time more in that story, I found the love more powerful for its history, trials and upheavals.

I honestly cannot recommend one story over the other, it really depends on what you are looking for. Lee’s story may deliver more emotional punch than Clarke’s but I think it was designed to whereas Clarke's story was more slow moving and social commentary.

There were two elements of this story that I really didn’t like. The first is that for reasons unbeknownst to me Lee had Silver Also, and this is a plot issue, However the overall progression of the story was quite lovely.

“A rose by any other name
Would get the blame
For being what it is--
The colour of a kiss,
The shadow of a flame.

A rose may earn another name,
So call it love;
So call it love I will,
And love is like the sea,
Which changes constantly,
And yet is still
The same.”

Profile Image for Carolyn F..
3,421 reviews51 followers
August 15, 2010
What an absolutely fantastic book! I can't rave enough about it. Jane is a girl in the future who meets a robotic man and then the story goes from there. I loved them together, it was so romantic. And the ending, I'm still crying! I have book #2 from the library and that is definitely the next book I'm reading. I would categorize this book as science fiction romance for both adults and young adults. Would recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Jannah A.
902 reviews52 followers
July 14, 2015
There are far too many feels now that I've finished this. Gobbled it up like a chocolate croissant.
I feel sad sad sad. Just like she said,
"You see, when I stop, I break my last link with him. With my love. Yes, he’ll always be with me, but not him. I’ll be alone. I’ll be alone."
I feel alone.
This is so good. And weird. It awesomely futuristic in a way only the 80s could have imagined.
This book mentions sex in some lewd manners. But really this book is about love, and personal growth, and not about sex at all.
I enjoyed seeing Jane's path to becoming an actual human from that vapid shell under her mother's thumb.
I felt for her. I felt for her paranoia and insecurities. And her fear of being something other than her mothers approval. How she constantly questioned Silver and his feelings and actions in relation to her because how could he feel for her? How could he love her? Why the heck and and how the heck could she love him? After all he was just a machine right?
I don't want to be clever or dismissive because maybe this book is aimed at teenage girls who fall in love, insta love or something dumb. Gosh that sounds dismissive.

Well yeah she, 16 year old vapid rich girl Jane, did fall in love. At first sight. With a silver skinned humanoid robot. It sounds quite moronic when put like that. But it isn't.

Jane only had to fall in love, sell her worldly goods and live in the slums to find out its not so bad outside the safe bubble of her mothers house.

Jane writes from first person. Its interesting how she seems vague until she asserts herself, THEN finally I can envision her. Her image was unsure until she made decisions to leave. She also is no longer aesthetically programmed under her mothers regime, so she reverts to her natural body image, wherein she accepts herself. Silver was in some ways a passive character, more a reflected ideology through Jane's eyes, brilliantly talented, bringing out the good in Jane while wrestling with the idea he had human emotions. I liked Clovis and his ridiculous rudeness and his obviously masked concern for Jane. If Jane was a guy...hmmm lol. Egyptia..what a bloody name. Everyone's bloody names in fact. Except for simple Jane. I mainly just associated Egyptia with various shades of blue and mascara tears (well she cried a lot). Demeta I couldn't really envision except as really tall and regal. She reminded me of Rapunzel's "mother". The manipulative ones who always make their offspring feel like they're out of control. She kept Jane emotionally stunted.

I don't know why I'm almost scared to write how I feel about this book because if I was someone else I would probably judge me. Shut up rhetorical hipster other self. Read the damn book at least before you judge. ^_^

Anyhow, it was unputdownable, beautiful, tragic and at the same time made you think. Gotta love some of that. If I hadn't clicked on the read a random book option on my android book app Moon+Reader, this would probably have been forgotten forever because I have a terrible habit of abandoning books after I put them on my to read list.
Profile Image for Hot Mess Sommelière ~ Caro.
1,148 reviews120 followers
May 27, 2022
Better than the sum of its parts

Tanith Lee shows her master penmanship through the smaller details: a magnificent cast of secondary characters, great character development, riveting sub plots and amazing dialogue.

It is a rather short book, and since 1981 (is it really 41 years old??) it has lost none of its immediacy. Actually, since humans are now actually developing robots with AI, the themes seem more fascinating than ever.

Despite the decades on its back, none of the gadgets invented in the book seem silly or old. The language is also never dated.

I really wish I had read this sooner (as a teen), because teen me would have LOVED this novel.
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,478 reviews325 followers
April 25, 2019
Decided to finally read this highly recommended sci fi. Or I guess you'd really call it a sci fi romance but it felt more speculative than many sci fi romances. It explored what is what is conciousness and who is really alive I guess. It also dealt with people's fear of AI. Which is pretty valid and currently pertinent.

This is the first book I have read by this author and she has a very different style. At first it was sort of glaring but after I got started it was easy enough to read and adjust to.

The romance part was believable and sweet.

Profile Image for Fantasy Literature.
3,226 reviews166 followers
January 14, 2016
It's unfortunate that Tanith Lee had to pass away for me to get the jolt of interest needed to read her work. The Silver Metal Lover, one of her most loved works, is a story about an immature love that blossoms into a fully realized one, and about an immature girl who cries too often and falls in love too easily but blossoms into a strong-willed, independent woman. It's a story about Jane, and her relationship with her robot lover, Silver.

Were this tender novel published today, it would be shelved in the Young Adult section of a bookstore, but such a label had yet to be conceived when it was first published in 1981. It features some of the defining characteristics of that genre as well: a dystopic world whose foundations are crumbling (though in Silver Metal Lover the dystopic elements serve more as background), a young protagonist inexperien... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...
Profile Image for Ash H..
40 reviews
June 7, 2011

A book like this only comes around once.
Tanith Lee has never written so well before or after. Good but never as evocative, as real, as poignantly heart touching, as piercingly tearful.

To render a character like Silver that will be, nay, shall be loved unanimously by all readers is no mean feat for an author. I shan't give away the plot for reading this, is believing.
However, be prepared to read in one full seating for it was darn near impossible to put the book down.

The dialogue is so real, so legit that at no point during the whole novel do you even vaguely assess that maybe, just maybe the characters may not have said it.
And there are certain echoes of a time to come maybe in our future where this book like Ray Bradbury's novels may not be too far from the truth.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
287 reviews23 followers
March 22, 2023
“Mother, I am in love with a robot.”

Get in line. Silver was a great.
This book was charming with an interesting world. It was a little funny reading a book written in the 80s and seeing their ideas of a far future. I don’t think the author was far off. 🤔
Profile Image for Miranda.
15 reviews
February 7, 2016
Ok, to be honest, I did read this as a joke after finding it on the shelf at my Library (please Google the original 1982 paperback to fully appreciate). The front cover art, combined with the brilliant synopsis on the back ("He was a robot, and he could do everything a real man could do—yes, everything...”), made it almost impossible for me NOT to read this book.

So, I didn’t like it. This was mostly due to (suprise!) the plot: overly dramatic, wealthy teen girl falls in love with a beautiful, humanoid robot (a musician!) and takes him as her lover – sex, drama, and musical numbers ensue. Meh. Not my thing. But I will admit, it could have been worse -- there were no graphic human/robot sex scenes (a definite mercy; thank you, Tanith Lee), and the writing was decent. AND it was only 250 pages. Those powers combined, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. And thanks to goodreads, I’ve now learned that there’s actually a sequel to this book. Alas, I won’t be reading it.
Profile Image for Becky.
220 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2012
I loved it. It's not a hard core sex book or anything...sure it mentions sex, but that's about it. There's the romantic quality of a "good woman" being able to give a man/robot (Silver) a soul, but it's also a story about what he does for her too. Jane basically is a young girl who doesn't understand her own feelings & for the man (robot) she loves she strips herself down to the bare basics. She gives up everything she thought defined her as a person. Her friends suck & bring to mind the saying, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"
I feel like rereading it immediatley.
Profile Image for E.J. Frost.
Author 20 books595 followers
November 17, 2012
One of my all-time favorite books. I read it when I was a teenager and it spoke to me about difference and love. I read it when I was a young adult and it spoke to me about the maturation of my relationship with my mother. I read it as a married woman with a pre-teen and it spoke to me about loving and letting go. That this small novel has aged so well with me speaks volumes!
Profile Image for murrrmika.
77 reviews4 followers
December 10, 2022
Срібнометалевий коханець – химерне поєднання майстерної прози, загальних деталей (розумійте як хочете), філософських роздумів, гротескного гумору і дрібки магічного реалізму з розкиданими протягом книги шматочками скла того, що ми зараз звемо "романтична лінія".

Я зовсім не так уявляла стосунки між роботом і людиною, передбачаючи щось банальне на кшталт "вона змінює його, він еволюціонує і бла-бла-бла".

Забудьте, тут ситуація прямо протилежна, якщо взагалі не з іншого кута зору.

Аби не спойлерити повністю сюжет, скажу лишень, що однією з головних думок, люб'язно кинутих авторкою нам на поталу, є питання того, що саме відкидання штучного походження емоцій і загалом природи істоти, що ми звемо роботом, самообман себе, що машина набула людських рис і бажання провести аналогію і подивитися на машину виключно під кутом зору людини – не є тією єдиною формулою, за якою можливе існування кохання між людиною і роботом.

Бо зрештою, "якщо в недалекому майбутньому діти народжуються поза тілом матері, люди роблять вдосконалення зовнішності за допомогою одного шприца, і не існує практично нічого, щоб проводило чітку лінію між людиною та машиною, хто може гарантувати, що душа здатна розцвісти лишень в оточенні плоті й кісток, а не холодного металу"?
Profile Image for Jeffe Kennedy.
Author 89 books1,249 followers
June 10, 2019
I read this book when it first came out, and I was an adolescent. I re-read it any number of times, including to my own first love and lover, when I was 16. Being a musical, dramatic type himself, he loved it, too. This book has always been close to my heart. Recently I decided I should read it yet again and discovered I'd loaned out my hardback copy. (WHY??? WHY DO I ALWAYS DO THIS??? THEY NEVER COME HOME AGAIN!) So, I bought the digital version. It was neatly packaged with the 2005 sequel METALLIC LOVE, which I hadn't known existed. So I'll review that, too, having now read both.

THE SILVER METAL LOVER is simply a classic and it's held up beautifully all these years. Yes, the genre has thoroughly explored the ramifications of AI and human interaction, the nature of humanity, etc., but this book still has things to say. The imagery and emotion are wonderful. Tanith Lee's voice bowls me over every time. So evocative, lending meaning to the smallest of moments. She was a true master of storytelling.
Profile Image for Johanna.
567 reviews40 followers
June 16, 2021
I think I would have loved this book when I was younger. This was a book about first love, and becoming an adult. But because I'm not so extremely fan of romance books, I just found this to be something hard to relate to.

But I have to say that Tanith Lee has created a really cool futuristic society here! There were really cool things, things that wasn't outdated even though this book has been published several decades ago.
Profile Image for Alex Ankarr.
Author 92 books142 followers
December 22, 2017
Ah, this is the best, it's the best. It's the deepest, the sweetest, it's the saddest. What else can compare? Nuttin', I'm tellin' ya, nuttin'. No-one is ideal and perfect, here, not even the robot who was constructed to be that way. And that's good, because beauty and love are incompatible with perfection.

If you don't cry a little, you probably don't have a soul. But your robot might.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kim Falconer.
Author 12 books214 followers
July 2, 2012
One of the things I love about TSML is how Tanith explores the hard problems of consciousness without intruding on the story. It was only during times ‘away from the book,’ that I pondered her insights—how the erotic nature of love can grow souls.

When I say erotic, I don’t me pornographic. I’m referring to Eros, the god of love—the original meaning is something that brings two people together in such a way that it creates a lasting transformation. In this sense, sex is rarely erotic, but it can be, as can the non-sexual relationship between an artist and their craft or a teacher and student. In TSML not only is the sex erotic but so is the art, music and intimacy shared between Jane and Silver.

To begin with, Jane is far from individuated. She says, ‘My mother has a lot of opinions, which is restful, as that way I don’t have to have many of my own.’ Jane is sentient but has little self awareness. Then she falls in love.

Mother, I am in love with a robot.
No. She isn’t going to like that.
Mother, I am in love.
Are you, darling?
Oh, yes, Mother, yes I am. His hair is auburn, and his eyes are very large. Like amber. And his skin is silver.
Mother. I’m in love.
With whom, dear?
His name is Silver.
How metallic.
Yes. It stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Verisimulated Electronic Robot.
Silence. Silence. Silence.

Silver has a sense of self from the start. I’m a robot, he says, but is he sentient? He’s like a toaster making lovely golden toast but then he explains a ‘cruel look’, showing he is more than the sum of his circuitry. ‘When something occurs that is sufficiently unlike what I’m programmed to expect, my thought process switch over. I may then, for a moment, appear blank, or distant.’ How ‘human’ is that?

By the middle of TSML I realised Tanith wasn’t writing about romance, or coming of age, or social inequality or advanced technology or environmental disasters—even though these themes are present. She was writing about the nature of being. In her beautifully woven story is a Cartesian thesis on mid-body dualism. Are we the product of our physicality—a result of biochemical reactions in the brain? Or is consciousness spirit, reflected in our capacity to transform through love?

When I reached page 232 I wanted to stop. Jane . . . Jain says, ‘I love him. He loves me. It isn’t a boast. I can hardly believe it myself. But he does. Oh God, he does. And, I am happy.‘

This moment reflects the perfect lightness of being, the epiphany before the fall—I longed to stay in this Eden of consciousness—the brilliance before expulsion from the garden. But Tanith holds us to our mythologies that say the ‘fall’ is necessary—separation is necessary for soul growth.

TSML is an extraordinary tale of erotic love and the lasting transformation it brings. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Anna.
91 reviews13 followers
May 1, 2016
This is a wonderful read. I kept wondering to myself why I had never read this before. For a long time it has been sitting on the outskirts of my "To Read"- list and since I was looking forward to a somewhat longer train journey than normal, I decided I'd had enough of mediocre romance and detective novels and needed something different. I was not disappointed.

As it happens, this is also a romance novel, in a way, but a completely different one from the usual fare. This is not about boy-meets-girl and then they are on a journey to a happy ending; no, this is something else. In this story, a girl meets a robot, and it's not just any robot, but one designed to please and amuse humans. Is it craziness to love a robot? Can a robot learn to feel?

"Don't ever," he said, "be afraid of me."
But I was. He'd driven a silver nail through my heart.

In many ways, The Silver Metal Lover is solidly YA, in other ways, it is eternal, because the subject matter never grows old. The power of transformative love is rarely dull, and in Tanith Lee's version it becomes vast indeed. Interestingly perhaps, Silver is not a hugely active character, the plot is instead driven mainly by the protagonist Jane, her actions and her character growth, and also partially by her mother and some of her friends and their decisions. Jane's relationship with her mother also takes centre stage, and it frames completely the love story that emerges.

Mother, I am in love with a robot.
No. She isn't going to like that.
Mother, I am in love.
Are you darling?
Oh yes, mother, yes I am. His hair is auburn, and his eyes are very large. Like amber. And his skin is silver.

While you get a feeling for where Jane and Silver are heading around the half-way mark, Jane's relationship with her mother kept me wondering until the very end, and I thought it was very well done.

Lee's language is light, sparkly and flowing. It feels a bit like green, bubbly wine even when the subject matter gets darker and the feeling of doom heavier.

Read this for spirited language. Read this for character development. Read this for that wonderful feeling of being hit by delicious tragedy and then a bit of hope.
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