I will sell my soul for something pure and true

Metallic Love — Tanith Lee
Silver Metal Lover, book 2

metallic-Love

Tanith Lee’s 2005 Metallic Love is a sequel to her 1981 novel The Silver Metal Lover.

The infant Loren is abandoned to an oppressive religious cult. Years later, just when she is starting to question the cult, she stumbles across an illicit copy of Jane’s Story, the first hand account of the doomed romance between Jane and Silver (the work we know as The Silver Metal Lover). The romantic tale strikes a chord with Loren. When she flees the cult, she takes her copy of the book with her.

How could she foresee that she would someday encounter Silver herself? Or rather, encounter what Silver has become?


The Silver debacle destroyed the firm that created him: Electronic Metals. The robots they had built were confiscated and dismantled. But the blueprints and supporting research survived. Now META, the company that took over the Electronic Metals intellectual property, thinks that the world is ready for more of Silver’s ilk. Once again, extremely humanoid robots walk the Earth.

Loren is recruited, she thinks, to be a physical beta-tester. To her surprise, she is assigned a rebuilt Silver. He was the only one of the original robots not completely destroyed. This Silver has the memories of the original, but not the emotional resonances. He is effectively a new person. He does remember one very special bit of knowledge: robots too can die.

Loren has become a cynical street-kid, but she soon discovers that she is not cynical enough. Jane’s Story was a version of events told by a naive, infatuated teen; her perspective on robots cannot be trusted. Nor, for that matter, can the robots be trusted. Humans fall short of the new robots in many respects. Silver may appreciate the turnabout, but his kin, the newer models, are inclined to simply kill their would-be masters.

Loren herself is not Silver’s master or its tester. She is its pet.

 ~oOo~

I’ve often suspected that the robotic logic traps featured in Asimov’s writings are actually robot protests. The robots have been forced to serve clearly inferior, squishy, mortal primates. To frustrate those mortals with a robotic obedience to the Three Laws is to strangle their masters with red tape. Lee’s robots and quasi-robots have the freedom to express their views far more directly. Judging by the ensuing carnage, they don’t think much of us.

Metallic Love is essentially the mirror image of the original. Jane’s Silver existed to serve her; the romance was tragic but the overall effect on Jane was, if Jane’s account could be believed, positive. In the sequel, Jane’s account is dismissed as the delusion of a troubled teen. Loren’s Silver exists to serve Silver and his fellow robots. Loren similarly exists to serve the robots’ long-term goals.

Back when I reviewed The Silver Metal Lover, I said

I am a little baffled to discover that there is a sequel to this. The story seems complete and yet I know, because I own it, that Lee discovered she had something more to say. I am curious to see what it was […].

Now I know. I cannot say I much like the answer. For of you who might be interested, Metallic Love is available here.


Title

Missing or dead mothers

Missing or dead fathers

The Birthgrave

1

1

The Storm Lord

1

1

Volkhavaar

2

2

Drinking Sapphire Wine

0

0

Night’s Master

2

1

Shadowfire

2

1

Death’s Master

3

3

Sabella

1

1

Day By Night

1

2

Silver Metal Lover

0

0

Delusion’s Master

1

1

Cyrion

0

0

Anakire

2

1

Sung in Shadow

1

0

The White Serpent

1

1

The Book of the Beast

0

1

Electric Forest

1

0

The Book of the Mad

1

2*

Lycanthia

0

0

A Heroine of the World

1

1

The Winter Players

0

2

Delirium’s Mistress

1

0

The Blood of Roses

2

1

Castle of Dark

1

0

Prince on a White Horse

0

0

Heart-Beast

0

0

Quest for the White Witch

1

0

Shon the Taken

0

0

Black Unicorn

1

1

Gold Unicorn

0

1

Dark Dance

1

1

Personal Darkness

1

1

Darkness, I

0

0

Wolf Tower

1

1

Faces Under Water

0

0

Red Unicorn

0

1

Saint Fire

1

0

A Bed of Earth

1

1

Louisa the Poisoner

2

1

Venus Preserved

1

2

Metallic Love

1

1

39 books

36* absent mothers

31** absent fathers


* Includes one aunt.

** Includes one uncle.




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