Mother, I am in love with a robot.
No, she isn’t going to like that.
Mother, I am in love.
Are you, darling?
Oh yes, mother, yes I am. His hair is auburn, and his eyes are very large. Like amber. And his skin is silver.
Mother, I’m in love.
With whom, dear?
His name is Silver.
Yes, It stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Verisimulated Electronic Robot.
Silence. Silence. Silence.
Thus opens Tanith Lee’s 1981 future inter-being romance, The Silver Metal Lover, a heart-wrenching exploration of romance, tech and yes, love.
It tells the story of Jane, plain by the standards of her future oligarchic city-state (a combination of Privatopia and Somatopia) and firmly under the thumb of her powerful and rich mother. Seethingly comfortable with her existence, she meets Silver, an entertainment robot, playing guitar and singing in the plaza. She’s embarrassed. Then angry. Then hopelessly in love. Before long she’s thrown her old life to the winds.
Short by the standards of most science fiction, with terrifyingly real characters, it packs a punch that’s not to be underestimated. When the The Silver Metal Lover is called a tearjerker, it’s the blunt truth.