I have only read one book by Tanith Lee and after that, I never picked up another even though I’m fairly sure I’d enjoy them if I did. Sadly the one that I did read… put me off.
Imagine it, you are at university, in your third and final year, and you receive your book list for the Science Fiction & Fantasy module you picked out. Glancing down it, there a few things you expected – Lord of the Rings and suchlike, a couple of classics you have heard of but never picked up and one you have never heard of before called The Silver Metal Lover. Well, the title alone made us snigger – we should have taken that as a warning sign.
Firstly, it was a pig to get hold of due to being out of print (it has since been re-released due to Lee releasing a sequel novel) so we had to traipse around all of the book shops in Bath until we finally found one that had copies.
Then, when we had got hold of it, it was all a bit bizarre. By a couple of chapters in Jane, the 16 year old main character, had been told by her mother that all of her problems stemmed from not masturbating enough for her star sign or personality type or something and it just kind of went on from there.
Jane is very rich and very lonely and lives in a world destroyed by pollution and natural disasters where robots have been produced to do all manual labour, leaving a huge unemployment problem. When a new line of entertainment robots are launched with performance skills and great sexual prowess, Jane manages to fall head over heels in love with ‘Silver’ a minstrel robot.
By the end of the novel I wasn’t entirely sure if Silver was returning her affection or not but she had run away from home, abandoned her wealth and it was all a bit odd. I laughed quite a lot when reading it.
There was a lovely section where Jane was decorating a tiny flat to make a new home for herself and Silver which was an utter delight to read but the rest was a bit weird and slightly awkward to read.
If nothing else, The Silver Metal Lover gave us hours of entertainment and still pops up in conversation quite regularly as it is impossible to forget. It’s different to most ‘classics’ I have read, that’s for certain!