For my Monday posts, we’ve been reading speculative fiction novels by female authors. Here’s the next section of Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. Check here for parts one, two, three, and four to catch up or refresh.
A gorgeous poem about a rose and love and the sea. By this point, I think it’s safe to say that each of these introductory poems gives a hint of how the chapter will end, which is hopeful because this one implies that the chapter will start to really explore Silver and Jane’s relationship.
The next morning, Jane wakes in her rented slum apartment, and the world seems much less dreary than before. She gets ready and goes to Clovis’s to pay him back for Silver. She gives him the money, and when he insults her, she slaps him, a move that the old Jane would never have even considered.
Reader Comments: Good, Clovis deserved to be slapped, and I’m glad to see Jane starting to find that confidence. Though, I’m a little worried that, out of spite or amusement, Clovis will call Jane’s mother and tell her where to find Jane.
Writer Comments: As much as Lee used the scenery in the last chapter to assist in giving the impression of just how deep a hole Jane has walked into, she uses it again to imply hope and possibility. The setting, the slum apartment and the weeds, is exactly the same in both scenes, but her choice of what to describe and in what light affects two completely separate moods.
Jane then goes to Egyptia’s to get Silver back. Egyptia’s theater company is in the midst of a rehearsal, and when Egyptia finally notices Jane, Jane uses her knowledge of Egyptia’s theatrics and sensitivity to connect with her and manipulate her into relinquishing Silver. It works. She confesses her love for Silver and says that Egyptia alone can understand. As teary as Jane, Egyptia agrees to give her robot lover over to Jane.
Reader Comments: Okay, now I’m ready for this story to change gears as it seems to be doing. In a way, I’d say that Jane got Silver back too easily from Egyptia, but Lee handled the emotions so well that it felt natural. Plus, for all I know, Egyptia or Clovis will still find a way to destroy Jane’s efforts to keep Silver. Somehow, though, I feel less worried about Egyptia doing it. After all, for all Egyptia’s insane theatrics, she seems more genuine than most of, perhaps all of, Jane’s friends.
Writer Comments: As I said, Lee handles this exchange between Jane and Egyptia quite well. The reason for this is because she follows both girls’ emotions as they interact. Nothing is forced, overdone, or avoided. In my observation and experience, following the genuine path of a character’s emotional journey leads to more compelling and believable stories.
Jane takes Silver back to her horrible, slum apartment, but where Jane sees nothing but hardship and dreadful surroundings, Silver sees possibilities. He takes her out to places around the city where he knows to scavenge or find things cheap. They get glue and boards and other things to patch up the apartment. Silver helps Jane purchase a few articles of clothing and rugs and pillows for the apartment. Throughout all this, he points out that Jane isn’t really afraid, she’s just pre-programmed herself to feel that way and that the greatest thing Jane has to worry about is picking him a new name.
Reader Comments: I’m loving this section. Silver is sweet and honest and brings out the best in Jane. Robot he may be, but he’s also a splendid romantic hero.
Writer Comments: Perhaps the best technical comment I can make here is that Lee handles the dialogue very well because it reflects Silver and Jane’s characters, especially Silver’s, well and carries their emotions and relationship in a subtle but effective way. But to say that also feels like it robs the scene of its raw beauty, but that is, in a way, what the dialogue should do. It should be so effortless in its appearance and invoke such subtle layers, emotions, and character that it should carry a magic that melds with the story as marvelously as an illuminator’s pictures.
Over the course of the next week, Silver and Jane make their apartment a little haven, in which Jane is thrilled to live. They paint it with murals, lavish it with rugs and pillows and curtains, carpet it with free carpet squares they painstakingly glue into a mosaic, and cheaply re-enamel the bathroom. Jane has a hard time remembering that Silver is a robot and not some highly talented man she’s been fortunate enough to find.
Reader Comments: Things are going so wonderfully for Jane that I’m very afraid of what bad will happen next. And, wow, her apartment sounds better than anyplace I’ve ever lived.
Writer Comments: Almost all this section is description, vast paragraphs of detailed, lengthy description. Normally, writing books and authors say to avoid long passages of description. They tend to make a reader bored. But here, it works well because the description accomplishes two important needs of the story: 1) It reflects the personalities of Jane and Silver as they are together as a couple. 2) At least for a time, it gives the reader a payoff. We’ve been waiting and hurting with Jane for almost half the book, and this is our reward: to see Jane in a place that promises hope and happiness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s section of Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. Join me next Monday for the next section and Wednesay and Friday for other forays into the speculative, writing, and life.