Silver Metal Lover

Title: The Silver Metal Lover
Author: Tanith Lee
Genre: SF
Series: Silver Metal Lover (1)
Copyright: 1981
Ranking: Excellent
Binding: paperback
LibraryThing: Title:Silver Metal Lover WorkId 12999
Type: Owned
Read: 1999-11-17

I'd heard of this book, mentioned in one breath with many of Tanith Lee's other works, but I'd never read it until now. Well, I'm glad I at last corrected this omission, and perhaps the timing was very good anyway, since if I read it a decade ago, I might not have liked it as much. As it is, in places it moved me to tears, which doesn't happen that often.

In the society of the rich shown, there were shades of the careless, heartless, feckless society of the Jangs in "Don't Bite The Sun" and "Drinking Sapphire Wine" (recently re-issued in one volume as "Biting the Sun") but it was less remote and futuristic than that.

It is also a fascinating contrast with the also-excellent "Divine Endurance" by Gwynneth Jones, which I also read recently. They have nothing in common except for the central question: what would happen if someone made a perfect human-like robot whose purpose in life was to make people happy? In "Divine Endurance", the angel-doll can see into the secret desires of the heart - and finds that they are ultimately self-destructive - be careful what you wish for, you may get it. In "The Silver Metal Lover", Silver is not half so omnipotent, not judging by secret desires, but simply by the human measure of happiness. But what happens if someone's happiness is not dependent on selfish desires, but that they are desperately unhappy because they love the robot and the robot can't love them back, and yet still has to do the best to try to make them happy? Silver finds in such perfect service, a perfect love; for the first half of love is to care about the happiness of the one you love. Which means that we come back to those eternal verities yet again - love begets love, fear begets death.

This cover wasn't as striking as the other version I saw in a library once, but more fitting to the characters. I kept on looking back at the cover to see what he and she looked like, because I think it picked them up exactly, particularly her, just her face, fine hair, ethereal, and too shy to come to the fore.

Sid & Nancy Scale: The Three Graces in fibre-optics