Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Silver Metal Lover (1981)

by Tanith Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Silver Metal Lover (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0162214,037 (4.08)49
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?… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 49 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
The Silver Metal Lover is perhaps Tanith Lee’s best known novel after her three Flat Earth books. It may be the most beloved. Though an abiding Lee fan I was immune to its charms for many years until finally deciding to read it last summer. The cover art had connived this resistance. It’s…unfortunate. Don Maitz may be a wonderful artist but his version of Silver, the android lover of the book, is awful, resembling a liquid metal Terminator in a blood-colored hag wig and a weird, bemused, tremulous expression on his melting face. Eek!

(The DAW paperback, though, has Lee’s own artwork on the inside, which is a plus.)

Anyway, back to the book.

It wasn’t a romance per se, but an examination of the idea of romance on an everywoman, 16-year-old Jane. Like the heroine of Twilight she isn’t meant to be an actual teen but a stand-in for the reader, intelligent and aware, who is embarking on her first adult romantic and sexual experience. Jane lives in a world of unlimited luxury and wealth but restricted opportunity, created through artificial insemination to give mom the experience of raising a child. Jane is kept on a loose rein in that she has anything she desires materially, as well as questionable friends and social activities, but remains jobless and underage, economically dependent on her mother as well as being her mother’s analytical object. Jane has frenemies who are similar rich, bored, warped youth, but no real human connection aside from mom, and that one is questionable. Her mother’s control extends even to her appearance – Jane takes special drugs to foster a “Rubenesque” look with curly dark hair.

The story begins when Jane, who is lending some emotional support to a young actress friend on audition, comes across a lifelike robot strolling through the city with a guitar serenading passersby. He’s one of a new generation of robots who as well as being extremely lifelike are able to imitate human artists: musicians, actors, and dancers, crossing a barrier hitherto thought to be restricted. Jane becomes obsessed with him. She HAS to have him. But being under legal age she can’t buy a robot, and doesn’t have enough allowance to anyway. So she connives, through her slightly older friends, to buy him by proxy, and gets the money by selling off all the belongings given to her by her mother. She absconds to the big mean city to live with Silver (so she names him) in a mean little apartment and find out what love and desire are all about.

The novel is long and lush, and the romance is only a part of it. As with all Lee novels there’s a lot more going on the background, all of it picturesque: this future earth has acquired an orbiting asteroid that creates periodic earthquakes, robot labor has created a population of poor and unemployed, and the line between human and robot itself is growing thin with the introduction of Silver’s brethren the Golder (? I guess they all had to match) and Copper series of robots, indistinguishable from humans save for the metallic coloration of their skin. Silver himself has humanlike but silver-toned skin and auburn hair, described poetically by the author but still somehow not an appealing palette of coloration. When Jane’s mother cuts off her allowance he suggests they both make a living as street buskers, where Jane discovers she has a fine voice and musical talent of her own. Silver’s talent also extends to fixing up their hole-in-the-wall apartment; as a robot, he is devoted to and “in love” with whoever owns him. Jane’s conflict, along with her becoming her own woman, is to figure out if his love for her is real, or just part of his sophisticated programming. As the story progresses, it leans to the former.

Their idyll is intruded upon by real life when Jane’s frenemies, who she has depended upon to buy and keep Silver, become jealous and set out to make mischief, leading to Silver being repossessed by the company who made him, and who will destroy him for being too lifelike and flawed.

I don’t cry when I read books, but boy did my heart receive a wringing at the book’s end. The book was uncompromising as it hurtles toward tragedy and revelation, saying much, much more about new love, first love, than any number of contemporary romance novels do.

All of this was sort of muddled together in a continuous stream, like a player-piano roll, told by Jane in first person after the adventure has passed. While not hard to keep track of, it was perhaps too complex and wandering for what the story wanted to be. It’s like the author couldn’t help herself from creating embellishments and trills on the fly as typewritten pages cascaded out of the typewriter one after the other in marathon all-night sessions. (I’ve read that this was really how she wrote.) I could have done, for example, without the many interludes showing Jane’s poisonous friends: a pair of malicious twins, an “oh, snap” bitter gay boy, and an addlepated actress wannabe. They got in the way and weren’t that interesting to me. Though I did enjoy reading the prose about them, as I always enjoy reading Lee’s writing, they weren’t necessary for the direct cut to the heart the story wanted to be.

Put it this way. As a reader, I enjoyed it, as a writer, I wanted more streamlining. But also as a writer, I can’t help but admire that straightforward, stream-of-consciousness technique that accommodates new ideas on the fly.

I also wish young female readers were as in love with this as that crapfest Twilight. They should have been. ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Oct 12, 2019 |
I love this book and reread it every few years. It's one of the few I'll reread. Jane, sheltered by her mother knows almost nothing about the world outside of her home. When she comes across the entertainer android S.I.L.V.E.R, all that changes. By the end of the book, you'll wonder how human an android can be. ( )
  Aythn | Jun 27, 2018 |
Set in a future earth shaped by economic and environmental, Jane lives a sheltered life under the ever-watchful eye of her mother. Love is something she never considered - until she meets the sample android Silver. Her love for him allows her to explore her life, to see herself and her existence through new eyes. From there, she becomes a new person, someone other than the carefully prescribed path set for her.

Similar in feel to I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, this book explore if love with an android is real love. The conclusion is complex and well-explored. Lee creates a world populated by mosaic of characters, and strange ideas and customs that created a rich multi-layered story with excellent nuance.

Despite this, the story is a bit preachy, with a clear message in mind. If you move past that, Lee weaves a tale of romance, heartache, and growth worth reading. ( )
  empress8411 | Jan 28, 2018 |
So, this is my first Tanith Lee, and it was suggested as a robot book when I was asking for them. And I really, really loved this one. It's about so much more than robots, or even robotic love - although, damn, there is a lot of human/robot lovin' going on in here. No, there's so much detailed introspection, about family, about friendship, about love and loss, and even the social balance between the rich and the poor.

Beautiful prose. Just delicious.

And I was drawn in, right until the end. Which made me gasp and cry, by the way. Because as much as the gorgeous language makes you want to linger over the descriptions of people and places, the characters and their stories propel you along right until the end.

Jane is rich, and while not as spoiled as her friends, she is undoubtedly spoiled. When she meets S.I.L.V.E.R - referred to simply as Silver - she is, at first, horrified. An android who can sing as well, with as much tone and range, and emotion, as a human. And who can come up with his own lyrics as well. However, she is compelled to see him again, at least after her friend hires Silver for a party.

And there is a love story that slowly builds up, nothing erotic - or I should say, you're not given the juicy erotic details. The truth is that they don't really matter. Jane feels a pure love for Silver, so much so that she literally gives up everything for him.

I'm going to be even vaguer when I say that circumstances, and even people, work against Jane and Silver. To give away too much would be to spoil that lovely, slow build up of love, and the way it can both build and be unraveled by another's hand. It's truly touching, and all told from Jane's point-of-view.

I'm very much looking forward to reading Metallic Love, the sequel. I'd highly recommend this book. There are mentions of underage sex - although, again, no details - but this is a society that seems to accept teens having sex. At fifteen or sixteen, the upperclass teens are living alone, and if not, their parents talk to them about sex quite openly. (Or at least, Jane's does, and she's not presented as odd in that respect, especially given the kids living alone!) That is really one of the only things that kind of squicked me out, and it was presented in such a matter of fact matter that I'd accepted it as part of the world by the novel's end. (I'd also argue the kids act more like adults by sixteen or so than they do in our current society, so it also felt a little more like they were adults by the end of the novel.) ( )
1 vote All_Hail_Grimlock | Oct 25, 2015 |
This was so much more than I expected. I loved it.
My full review is here, on Hot Stuff for Cool People. ( )
  hotforcool | May 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tanith Leeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chiodo, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flynn, DannyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maitz, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, between picnics.
To Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Between picnics.
First words
Mother, I am in love with a robot.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.
It is a world of the future, where beauty is available to all, given the sophistication of technology and medicine. Yet Jane is - well, surely pleasant-enough-looking, with her soft brown hair and slightly plump body. Years back, when Jane was tiny, her beautiful, wealthy mother had her analyzed for perfect body type, and now cosmetic medications keep her true to form. And she questions little. After all, her mother has so much authority, so many opinions, that there's nothing for Jane to say.
And Jane's lovers are largely in her mind - men from films she's seen, from books she's read. The thought of confronting a flesh-and-blood lover makes Jane grow cold. What would she say to him? What would he think of plain Jane?
Until she meets Silver, a singer and guitarist. And a robot - with all the adoration and compassion that in-the-flesh lovers lack.
But, unlike human lovers, Silver is for sale, and Jane - desperate for his love - risks estrangement from her mother and friends to possess him. With Silver as her partner, she tastes the first happiness and independence she has ever known. She even grows pretty, as she stops taking the pills and treatments her mother had ordered for her.
Yet - what would you do if the manufacturer decided to recall the particular model of lover you'd bought?
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.08)
1 2
1.5 3
2 8
2.5 3
3 41
3.5 9
4 85
4.5 9
5 95

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 148,067,064 books! | Top bar: Always visible