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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee: Reading for Writers and Readers, Chapter 4 Parts 2-3

Today is this blogs 100th post. Thank you to everyone who has read this blog and supported me through the past several months to make it possible. I’m grateful for you all.

And now for the second to last segment of our reading of Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. As usual, here are the links for the previous sections: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7.



Chapter 4

Part 2:

After catching Jane at the arcade, her old friends (in name only), Jason and Medea, press their presence upon Jane. She tries to get away and pretend like she doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they make references to Silver, but the twins are determined. They follow Jane all afternoon, their reflections appearing in store windows everywhere Jane turns. Her fear grows as she flees down alleys and through shops, not daring to go anywhere near home. At long last, they catch her again and press her for information. Why isn’t she going home? It’s getting late. Without her police code still active, she needs protection; they’re just being good friends by keeping an eye on her. Jane claims she can’t go home because she has plans to see Egyptia, hoping the twins will soon grow bored and give up their chase.

Reader Comments: These two, Jason and Medea, are just creepy and radiate maliciousness. Plus, from the way they interact and a comment Medea says in this section, I’m pretty sure they sleep together. Ick!

Writer Comments: This section starts really building the tension that will carry us through to the climax. Jane’s fear and frantic desire to escape come through clearly. Lee uses swift pacing and carefully chosen, brief snippets of detail to convey the frequent glimpses of the twins and the chase.

When Jane mentions going to Egyptia’s, the twins turn somewhat disappointed. Apparently, that night is Egyptia’s first performance in the play her theater company is hosting. Still, Jason and Medea escort Jane all the way there. Medea even pays Jane’s fair on the flyer, a clear indication that she and her brother are bound and determined not to allow Jane to escape. Throughout the journey in the flyer and the following ride on the ferry to reach Egyptia’s, Jane contemplates murdering the two, but with their police codes, she doesn’t dare touch them.

Reader Comments: I think I’d cheer if she murdered Jason and Medea. The two barely make an appearance in the book, but when they walk onto the page, they resonate with viciousness. I hope Jane’s mother isn’t at Egyptia’s play. That would really make Jane’s life worse.

Writer Comments: Jane has come a long way since the beginning of this book. Her tendency to give into panic, her inability to stand on her own two feet, and her tendency to burst into tears are all gone now. She still feels much of what she did before, but now, she exhibits control of herself and thus is able to more easily navigate through the challenges that face her. Like Jane, a character should change throughout a story. Like a plot arc, a character should experience their own emotional, mental, and personal journey.

When they arrive at Egyptia’s apartment, Clovis is already there. He’s let his hair grow out and dyed it to look like Silver’s. For a moment, when she first enters the flat, Jane thinks he is Silver. Clovis shows nearly as much surprise at seeing her and calls the changes her body has undergone, the thinning and naturally blond hair, beautiful. He forces Jason and Medea to leave the room in a quest for wine by blackmailing them. Once alone, Jane begs his help to escape Jason and Medea and explains briefly her troubles with Silver and E.M. Ltd. Clovis agrees to help her, assures her that he’s not Judas Iscariot, and insists she trust him. The twins return, and Clovis and Jane must drop off their conversation before Jane learns of any real detail to Clovis’s plan. Egyptia comes down and flings herself about Jane. She was so afraid Jane wouldn’t come and so terrified about her performance that she’s ecstatic about Jane’s arrival.

Reader Comments: I knew Clovis was a good guy. It’s honestly really sweet to see how, screwed up as they are, Jane at least has two friends who are real. Egyptia’s enthusiasm at seeing Jane seems genuine, and Clovis offers Jane aid without hesitation or expectation of payment. He grumbles a bit, but he wouldn’t be Clovis without some complaining.

Writer Comments: This scene conveys the greatest test of Jane’s friends. They are still who they were before, but now, it’s clear as to whose side they will stand on. Egyptia could have rebuffed Jane or demanded Silver back, but instead, she embraces her with friendly passion. Clovis lets Jane and the reader glimpse deeper into his soul, which isn’t so dark once you get past all the prickly parts. In this way, Lee ties up the mysteries of Jane’s friends’ loyalties. The questions surrounding them were minor compared to others facing the plot, such as whether or not Silver can love Jane, but by resolving them here, Lee initiates the first pebble rolling in what promises to be an avalanche of a climax.

Part 3:

Unable to escape Jason and Medea and desperate to learn the details of Clovis’s plan, Jane goes to the theater after all. She supports Egyptia through her antics and dramatics just before the play begins and realizes how much she’s learned from Silver about sounding calm and reassuring. When she gets to her seat, Clovis has rearranged their places. He managed to get Medea and Jason on the front row where they’ll have to strain their necks and can’t sit beside each other. He and Jane sit on the end of the third row. He swiftly instructs Jane of his plan: In the gory introduction of the play, which should sufficiently distract the twins, Jane is to slip out and go home. The next morning, she and Silver are to take a cab to a place just outside her mother’s home where a friend of Clovis’s will arrive to fly them out of state and away from those who hunt Silver, hopefully forever. He also warns Jane that he thinks Jason slipped a tracking device into her clothes that she best get rid of before fleeing the city. The first part of Clovis’s plan works, and Jane escapes for home.

Reader Comments: It’s a nice plan, but it won’t work. Plans never survive intact in fiction. Or, at least, they shouldn’t. It was also nice to see Jason and Medea suffer a little and at Clovis’s hands.

Writer Comments: This whole section builds layers upon layers of tension. The climax of the book swiftly approaches, and by that point, the tension should be high.

Jane makes it home just in time to catch Silver before he goes out again in search of her. He does not shake or weep or anything, but he holds her tight against him and confesses that he was afraid she has hurt or dead. He says that, were he human, he could have gone to every free hospital in that part of the city, thrown chairs, and demanded to know where she was. He is still a robot, but he either is able to or has learned how to feel fear and love. Instead of being elated, Jane feels bad, for in feeling as a human does, Silver has acquired a great weakness, the need to rely upon the human species.

Reader Comments: It was nice reading Silver confess how afraid he was. I would have liked to see a little more of the transition in him from being robotic to experiencing human emotions, but that’s rather difficult to accomplish in a first person novel, I suppose.

Writer Comments: I sort of touched on this in the Reader Comments, but choosing a point of view comes with benefits and drawbacks. First person provides a more easily reached intimacy with the narrator, in this case the protagonist, but it precludes the ability to see into other characters’ heads. Were this story more of a romance, first person would not work as well. Instead, the main point of this story is Jane’s journey from ignorant, frightened girl to confident, self-reliant young woman. For the later, first person works fabulously.

I’ll see you all next week for the final segment of The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee. After that, we’ll start Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty and the Werewolf.

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