The Backlot Gay Book Forum discussion

The Silvers
This topic is about The Silvers
Science Fiction Discussions > The Silvers by Jill Smith

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jax (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jax | 979 comments B, captain of the first crewed mission to the Silver Planet, does not think of the planet’s native race as people. Silvers may look human, but their emotional spectrum is severely limited. B allows his team to capture, study, and even kill the creatures.

When B bonds with a Silver called Imms, everything changes. B’s not sure if Imms’s feelings are genuine or imitation, but B’s growing friendship with Imms becomes his anchor in a strange world. Following a shipboard fire that kills most of B’s team, B takes Imms back to Earth. He sanitizes the story of the fire—for which Imms bears some responsibility—so that Imms is recast as its hero rather than its cause.

Life on Earth threatens the fragile connection between the two men. As Imms seeks independence from a bureaucracy that treats him like a test subject, he begins to experience the gamut of emotions—including a love B is frightened to return. And as B and Imms’s story about the fire threatens to unravel, Imms must use all he’s learned about being human to protect B.

Takes the classic sci-fi premise of a simple, innocent alien altered by contact with humans and makes it fresh and new and so heart wrenching. My gut was tied in knots through the whole thing!

The book takes a close look at the casual cruelty of humans – some horrific acts, but also things we don’t even think about because it’s just the norm for us. In this case, becoming more human is definitely not a good thing.

Then, too, there’s the turmoil between B and Imms as they alternately pull each other close and push each other away, both incapable or unwilling to communicate their needs and fears. And they must do this relationship dance while facing constant threat from the NASA-like agency that B works for.

I enjoy all kinds of sci-fi, but I loved the spare worldbuilding here. It’s really just a handful of key details about the Silvers and their home planet, but so effective at painting a clear picture without lots of sciency stuff. It’s sweet, gentle Imms and his attempts to fit in that quietly provide that sense of ‘other’.

This has a satisfying conclusion but I sure wouldn't mind another book to continue their story. Highly recommended.

Note: This is another pen name for author J.A. Rock for any fans who already like her work.

Ulysses Dietz | 1540 comments Four stars for me, Jax.

I am not a big reader of sci-fi stuff, but this came highly recommended to me, and I took it with me on vacation. It is a remarkable book, lyrical and literal in the same breath.

“The Silvers” is not, ultimately, a story about aliens. It is, rather, a profound and moving analysis of what it is to be human.

With aliens.

Or, actually, with one particular alien, known as Imms, who has the misfortune to fall in love with a human spaceship captain who we only know as B.

Smith simply and beautifully creates for us vivid images of the Silver Planet, and of its gentle, intelligent race of humanoids who differ from humans in four crucial ways: they cannot feel fear, anger, hate or love. At least, they don’t seem to need to feel those things—until the humans arrive.

This is no scientific nerdfest explicating the minute details of life on the Silver Planet; although Smith gives us more than enough information to comprehend the essential character of this place and these people. She also gives us more than enough data to recognize the very worst and best in who we are as humans, and to feel in our bones the deeply conflicted position in which being human places us when we confront beings who are almost like us, but not.

B’s initial disgust and hatred for the Silvers is a mask for his inability to believe that these are people (because they are, indeed, people) who cannot covet, who cannot hurt anything or anyone. Their very gentleness provokes cruelty and violence in the humans, even as it intensifies the humans’ awareness of their own inescapable badness.

This is not an easy romance; but it is romantic. It is not about the power of love to solve problems, but the potential of love to offer alternatives. It is not about space exploration, but about the vagaries of the heart—human or otherwise. I had far more trouble coming to care about B, for all his anxious human complexity, than I did for Imms, whose courage and determination to survive moved me to tears more than once.

By the end of the book, there was a bright clarity in my mind. In the standoff between human and Silver, I was on the side of the Silvers.

Or was it on the side of the angels?

back to top