Our current Monday read is Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. For those of you just joining us, here are parts 1 and 2 of the read so you can catch up.
Jane gets dressed up and calls Electronic Metals to ask about hiring Silver, but a mob is protesting outside the building and E.M. isn’t as interested in hiring out their robots as they were the night before. Jane turns on the news and judges that the mob isn’t so bad with the police so near for her to worry about coming near them. She hurries out, catches a flyer, and goes to E.M.
Reader Comments: As much as I want Jane to find fulfillment and whatever romance Lee intends to really kick off, I know it’s still too early in the book for things to be anything but complicated. Like Jane, I want to see some indication that Silver really cares for her, but I’m skeptical about that happening.
Writer Comments: Jane’s daring in this section reveals how desperate she is. She’s lied, which she feels terrible about, she contacts E.M. knowing she probably doesn’t have the money to purchase anything, and not even a potentially violent mob or a closed business stop her. As a result of her reckless and frantic choices, the tension in this section really ramps up.
As Jane arrives at E.M., the mob breaks up. E.M.’s gate is open, but the building says it’s closed. Defeated, Jane slumps in the doorway. A little while later, the gentleman she spoke with before arrives to close up the gate and spots her. Jane lies and claims she wants to buy a Sophisticated Format so the man will let her in. She endures a long sales speech and a show of the robots, but Silver never appears. Frantically fearful for his “life,” Jane demands to see him, even though he’s going through inspections because something is off about him. Her host grudgingly takes her, and Jane sees Silver half dismantled and nothing of his enchanting self. Her crush is cured.
Reader Comments: Wait, it can’t be that easy. I know it can’t be easy at all. Some major complication has to reveal itself in the next scene. And I’m guessing Silver’s odd readings are because he does have something of real feelings for Jane, but I know that’s wishful, romantic thinking on my part.
Writer Comments: Jane seeing Silver dismantled and at his lowest, if I’m guessing about Lee’s intentions correctly, effectively removes the magic of Jane’s emotional attraction to Silver. This opens her open to really fall for him later on.
Jane goes to Jagged’s, a restaurant, for iced coffee and meets Medea and Jason, who attempt to torment her some and leave her with their bill, which she refuses to pay. Right after, Jane calls Clovis in tears but not understanding why she’s crying. Clovis insists she come over.
Reader Comments: I’m not quite sure why we meet Medea and Jason here. Perhaps it’s to show how really alone Jane is. After all, they are terrible friends, and even Jane admits they’re not really friends at all.
Writer Comments: Lee does a good job here of including Jane’s emotions while she’s unaware of them. The descriptions are whirling, glaring, light. Her physical reactions, like her mascara running and just repeating Clovis’s name over and over, reveal that her inner turmoil exists despite her outward belief that she’s free at last from loving a robot.
Jane arrives at Clovis’s and tells him everything. Clovis makes her sleep then arranges to buy Silver for Egyptia and let Jane borrow him. He expects Jane to pay him back and that they’ll eventually wrangle Silver fully from Egyptia, but in his harsh way, he takes care of her. He brings Silver to her and leaves, and Jane has a very awkward, very painful conversation with Silver, learning that he remembers her and being reassured again and again that he does not feel as she would wish, that he does not love her.
Reader Comments: I want Jane to have some happiness in all this, but I’m glad she’s feeling pain now. That sounds terrible, but if she wasn’t in pain, it would be too easy. I’m also glad she didn’t just jump into bed with Silver. It would have ruined their odd but budding relationship.
Writer Comments: Clovis is oddly showing more of that kindness, which, while he says he’ll sue Jane for the money to pay him back for the robot, I doubt he actually will, at least not any time soon. It’s nice to know she has one friend in all this. Again with Clovis, Lee demonstrates her ability to make her characters multilayered and complex. Now that Silver is more permanently in the picture, I suspect she’ll start to layer in his complexities as well.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s sections of The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee. Join me again next Monday to see how Jane handles having Silver at her beck and call.